How do you paint with watercolors?


How do you paint with watercolors? There are many advantages recognized to tempera colors. These are relatively cheap, bright, and non-toxic colors. But that’s not all: to take the first steps, you need to have the primary colors and create all the other shades yourself. Being water-based, the paints can dilute with simple water from our tap, which is also perfect for washing the tools used: brushes, palettes, plates, and saucers can be cleaned under running water in no time, without necessarily having to use special solvents, as is the case with oil colors.

Is painting with watercolor that simple?

It follows, therefore, that tempera colors are generally considered simple to use. For this reason, many people decide to enter the world of artistic painting by passing through tempera. In the belief that we are dealing with a technique that is not particularly difficult – which, not surprisingly, is used to teach even the smallest to paint – there is no count of people of all ages who buy sets of colors, brushes, and canvases to give vent to your desire for art finally. Were it not that tempera painting, often, does not turn out to be as easy as expected. And you know, it is usually minor obstacles and the most subtle difficulties that frustrate beginners, leading them to abandon their projects early.


In reality, however, tempera painting is effortless. Anyone can achieve small satisfactions quickly: the important thing is to follow the right advice so as not to be overwhelmed and discouraged by trivial errors. And, as we often recommend, look for a good teacher or a good painting course. That’s why, in this post, we have decided to collect many valuable tips for those who want to learn from scratch to paint with tempera colors. Memorize all these tips and practice a lot: with the right effort, you will soon be able to paint some beautiful pictures!

What are watercolors?

paint with watercolors

Tempera colors are colored paints used in artistic painting and landscape drawing. They have been used since ancient times, and their formula and composition have been changed several times over time. The basic principle is that these are colors formed by pigments dispersed in a binder other than oil: egg yolks, animal glues, starch, casein, and different waxes were used. To date, its original meaning has been somewhat lost, except insiders, and we refer to tempera as the classic “colors for children” or generic “colors in tubes.”


Most of the colors that we find on the market today and labeled as tempera are either gouache or water-based stains designed for children. This article will refer to tempera using their ordinary meaning: the one that unites them with gouaches. If you are interested in learning more about this aspect, I recommend reading the article dedicated to the history of tempera.

Where to paint with watercolors? Which media to use?

Before learning how to paint with tempera, you need to choose the most suitable supports. As you may already know, tempera paints can use almost anywhere. It is sufficient that the support is degreased and porous and therefore able to ‘hold’ the color. Consequently, it follows that the tempera adheres without problems on almost all types of paper, on cardboard and cardboard, on wood, on terracotta, on plaster, and so on.


By itself, therefore, you can paint almost anywhere with your tempera. However, if you want your work to remain intact over time and not be damaged at the first wrong move, we recommend that you study the ‘behavior’ of the tempera on the various supports. What does this mean? It means that for tempera painting, it is necessary to aim for more rigid supports or where there is no risk of deformation.

Painting with watercolor on canvas

It is possible to paint with tempera on canvas, but you must pay attention to some simple rules. Tempera colors are diluted with water, and the canvas, as is well known, is not designed to absorb paints with a large amount of water. It would be a bit like thinking about painting with watercolor on canvas. Feasible but not recommended, at least for beginners. For this reason, I recommend using tempera that is not too diluted or with a controlled dilution on canvas. Alternatively, you can also try canvas cardboard, rigid and cheap, or canvas paper, able to simulate the texture of the canvas.

Painting with watercolor on paper

Many artists use tempera on paper, at least to carry out tests or sketches. Children do the same in painting classes. But be careful: paper is not rigid support. It can deform, especially if it has a low weight since the dilution of the paints takes place almost exclusively with water. We, therefore, recommend that you use the colors only on paper with a weight of 185gr or higher. It means that you will need to adjust the amount of water to add to the color not to cause the sheet to warp or warp. As you may know, the tempera, if very diluted, can be used as if they were watercolors. Another piece of advice I can give you to reduce the risk of embarking the sheet is to fix it and stretch it correctly to the table using scotch for artists or paper scotch.

Leave a Reply

Back To Top