Common Watercolor Painting Mistakes

5 Common Watercolor Painting Mistakes (How to Fix Fast)

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Interested to know the common watercolor painting mistakes? Explore the most common watercolor painting mistakes and see how to fix watercolor mistakes perfectly!  

Embarking on a watercolor journey is an exciting adventure for budding artists, offering a unique and expressive medium that captures the ethereal beauty of the world. However, like any artistic pursuit, watercolor painting comes with its own set of challenges.

Common Watercolor Painting Mistakes

In this guide, we will explore five common watercolor painting mistakes that often trip up beginners. Understanding why these pitfalls occur, how to rectify them, and learning preventative measures can be the key to unlocking your full creative potential in the captivating realm of watercolor.

Watercolor Painting Basics

1. Overworking the Paper

Mistake: One of the most common pitfalls for watercolor novices is overworking the paper. This occurs when artists repeatedly layer wet washes or scrub at the paper, leading to a muddy and over-saturated surface.

Why it Happens: Beginners often fear leaving white spaces on the paper or struggle to achieve the desired intensity, prompting excessive layering.

How to Fix it: Embrace the transparency of watercolors by allowing layers to dry between applications. Lift excess pigment with a clean, damp brush or blotting paper when needed.

Avoidance Tips: Start with a light touch, gradually building up color. Practice controlling water-to-pigment ratios to achieve the desired intensity without overworking the paper.

Influence on Artistic Abilities: Overworking not only compromises the visual appeal of the artwork but also limits your control over the medium, hindering your ability to create luminous and dynamic watercolor effects.

2. Ignoring the Importance of Quality Materials

Mistake: Using subpar paper, brushes, or paints can significantly impact the outcome of a watercolor painting.

Why it Happens: Beginners might be tempted to cut costs on materials, unaware of the crucial role they play in achieving desired textures and effects.

How to Make Watercolor Paint

How to Fix it: Invest in good-quality watercolor paper, brushes, and paints to enhance color vibrancy, paper absorbency, and overall durability.

Avoidance Tips: Research and choose materials suited to watercolor techniques. Prioritize acid-free paper, natural-hair brushes, and artist-grade pigments for optimal results.

Influence on Artistic Abilities: Working with quality materials provides a smoother and more enjoyable painting experience, fostering improved control and precision in your artistic endeavors.

3. Neglecting Color Theory

Mistake: Ignoring fundamental color theory can result in muddy or discordant color mixtures.

Why it Happens: Beginners may struggle with color choices and combinations, leading to unintentional color clashes.

How to Fix it: Take the time to study color theory basics, such as complementary and analogous color schemes. Experiment with mixing colors on a palette before applying them to your artwork.

Avoidance Tips: Create a color chart to reference while painting. Familiarize yourself with the color wheel to make informed choices and achieve harmonious color blends.

Influence on Artistic Abilities: Neglecting color theory limits your ability to convey mood, depth, and atmosphere in your watercolor paintings, hindering your overall artistic expression.

4. Fear of White Space

Mistake: Avoiding white space can result in overcrowded and visually overwhelming paintings.

Why it Happens: Beginners may feel compelled to fill every inch of the paper, fearing negative space or leaving areas untouched.

How to Fix it: Embrace the power of white space for balance and contrast. Allow certain areas of your painting to breathe, creating focal points and enhancing the overall composition.

Avoidance Tips: Plan your composition with intentional areas of negative space. Experiment with leaving some sections unpainted to achieve a more dynamic and visually pleasing result.

How to Use Watercolor Pencils

Influence on Artistic Abilities: The fear of white space limits your ability to create visually striking and well-balanced watercolor paintings. Embracing negative space empowers you to guide the viewer’s gaze and convey a sense of purpose in your artwork.

5. Rushing the Drying Process

Mistake: Impatience with the drying process can lead to unintentional blending and bleeding of colors.

Why it Happens: Beginners may be eager to see the final result or lack awareness of the necessary drying time between layers.

How to Fix it: Exercise patience and allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next. Use a hairdryer on a low, cool setting to expedite the process if needed.

Avoidance Tips: Plan your painting process to accommodate drying times. Work on multiple pieces simultaneously to maintain a productive flow while allowing adequate drying intervals.

Influence on Artistic Abilities: Rushing the drying process compromises the clarity and definition of your watercolor artwork, inhibiting your ability to create intricate details and layered effects.


Mastering the art of watercolor painting is a journey filled with discovery and growth. By understanding and overcoming these common watercolor painting mistakes and knowing how to fix watercolor mistakes, beginners can develop a solid foundation, unlocking the full potential of this captivating medium.

Patience, practice and a willingness to learn from mistakes are the keys to achieving beautiful, expressive watercolor creations.

Key Takeaways (Common Watercolor Painting Mistakes)

  • Allow layers to dry between applications, avoiding overworked paper.
  • Invest in quality materials for enhanced vibrancy and control.
  • Study color theory, experiment with mixing, and create a color chart.
  • Embrace intentional white space for balance and visual appeal.
  • Exercise patience, allowing each layer to dry completely for clarity.

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