Posts tagged watercolor lessons
Watercolor Tutorial Lesson Three: Create a Gradient Wash

Congratulations on making it to my third watercolor tutorial!

I've been hearing from many of you via Instagram, Facebook, and in the comments section about what a stress reliever painting is and how these tutorials are helping you be more creative. It makes me so happy to hear that! Thank you for all the love and feel free to leave feedback on today's tutorial by clicking through to the comments section at the top of this post.

If you've missed any tutorials...

(Click here to review previous tutorials and learn how to set up your workspace.)

In this lesson we'll practice our:

  • water control
  • brush application
  • wet to wet technique

You'll notice that watercolor is a transparent medium (as in, you can see right through each layer to the color underneath) and tends toward a more gradient and varied look as opposed to a flat look like acrylic or gouache.

You might find this lesson a bit easier than the last as we'll be letting the paint run and bleed and do it's thing. The goal is to NOT overdo it with your brush strokes, but let the water do the work for you!

1. Start with a clean wet brush, size 16 (or the biggest one you have similar to mine).

Move the brush side to side and drag the water (no paint yet) down the paper until you almost reach the bottom. Be generous with your water here. Can you tell from the pictures about how much water I'm using?

Look at your paper at an angle to see how much water is on the page. You should see a thin even layer from top to bottom.

2. Now, let's add the first color.

I chose various greens, but you can work with whatever colors you want. Blues would also be pretty!

Load your brush with the first color and drag it across the very top of your paper where the water begins. See how the water pulls the paint right off your brush? Move the brush back and forth, gently, until you've covered about a third of the page.

3. Repeat step 2 with the second and third colors.

You'll want to make sure you're working wet into wet, meaning a wet brush working the paint onto a wet surface. So, try to work quickly so your paper doesn't dry while you're working.

Also, you'll need to exercise restraint in not over-working the painting. To lay in each color I used about 5-6 brush strokes. Once all three colors were on the paper, I added a bit more water to the darker green area to make the bleed- one brush stroke. 

If you over-work an area with this wet to wet technique, you'll notice the paper start to deteriorate and the colors will muddy. Let them bleed together and blend on their own.

4. Let the painting dry completely.

It really will change as it dries. See all the little areas where the water slowly moved the pigment as it dried? Those are called bleeds, and they're so fun to make! No other painting medium can create that look, which is why I love watercolor so much.

As usual I encourage you to have fun with this exercise and try it several times in multiple colors. Three of these gradient washes would look really pretty framed in white frames and hung together in a room. 

Share your results with me! Send me an email at or tag me at #theartofmichelleteaches on Instagram and Facebook. 

I can't wait to see what you create!

Watercolor Tutorial: Getting Started
watercolor tutorial by artist Michelle Schneider

watercolor tutorial by artist Michelle Schneider

I'm SO excited to be sharing my very first watercolor tutorial with you today! I've had a desire to teach for a long time, and finally, after testing the waters on Instagram and Facebook, your feedback and affirmation has given me the courage to start. Thank you! This is going to be incredibly fun for me and hopefully for you too!

Just a few things to keep in mind before we get started:

  1. I'll try to post a tutorial once a week on Thursdays. (Please be gracious with me as I have a toddler!)
  2. I'm an illustrator at heart and will be teaching you how to paint in my personal style.
  3. When getting started please don't worry about creating a "perfect" painting. These first few lessons are all about FUN and exploring and learning and NOT about creating a finished piece to hang on your wall.
  4. Lastly, please DO NOT get discouraged if your painting/drawing skills are lacking at first. Give yourself time to learn and grace throughout the process. Don't be afraid to make mistakes!

 Ok, let's get started!

First, you'll need the proper supplies. KEEP IT SIMPLE. If you're just starting out, buy inexpensive versions of everything I recommend until you get more comfortable with the medium and confident in your skills. Then, and only then, upgrade your tools. (Inexpensive supplies can be purchased at any local craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michaels.)

watercolor tutorial, supply list for painting, how to paint

watercolor tutorial, supply list for painting, how to paint


My favorite brushes right now are Winsor & Newton Cotman Designers Round brushes. I currently use sizes 10, 8, 6, 4, and 0. For larger areas of color I use Master's Touch round brushes in size 16 and 24 (look for these at Hobby Lobby).


I use ALL different kinds of paper, so narrowing it down to just a few types to recommend can be a bit tricky. Currently my favorite sketchbook paper is Strathmore Watercolor "Paper for Practice" 140lb and Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbooks.

4 things you want to look for when buying paper:

  1. Weight- Almost every weight of paper will, in some way, warp when water is added. I typically use 140lb paper because it doesn't require stretching.
  2. Texture- Cold Press paper will feel rough when you run your hand along it. Hot Press is smooth. The rougher the paper, the more texture your painting will have. I tend to buy smoother papers.
  3. Size- The smallest sketchbook I have is this one. The largest watercolor pad I use is 18x24." If you're just starting out, I'd recommend anything in the 9x12" or 11x14" range.
  4. Make sure it says watercolor somewhere on the label!
watercolor sketchbooks and supplies, learn to paint with watercolors

watercolor sketchbooks and supplies, learn to paint with watercolors


My favorite brand of watercolor to use is Sennelier French Artist's Watercolor Tubes (which also happens to be the most expensive). I also use Cotman Watercolor Tubes and occasionally Grumbacher. These are all paints in tubes. A liquid watercolor that is especially pretty and bright is Dr. Ph. Martin's Hydrus Watercolors which come in glass bottles. 

If you're just starting out, I'd recommend a dry watercolor set like this one. It's actually a traveling watercolor set with a lid for easy clean up. (I've never used this particular one but have one that's similar that I purchased at a craft store.)


  • a jar of warm water
  • a palette (I use one similar to this one.) or a paper plate
  • paper towels
  • and perhaps a pencil and eraser later on

Are you overwhelmed yet? Ok, just remember, all you really need to get started is one or two brushes, a pad of watercolor paper, a few tubes of paint, and water. Don't rush out and spend a small fortune on supplies. Just get the basics and grow your supply over time if you find out you like it. 

Feel free to ask questions in the comments!