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  • Elizabeth Reich

My Process: Steps for a Watercolor Painting

Updated: Jul 25

A recent blog post was shared about the art challenge 21 Days in My Art World, hosted by Tara Leaver, one of the prompts was My Process, this blog post shares this artist's process for a watercolor painting.


Painting with the video rolling doesn't happen and photos of every step are often forgotten.

Reference or Inspiration

reference image in color and grayscale of a magenta pink bleeding heart flower.

I start with the actual flower, still life, or landscape. From sitting with the physical object, or taking personal reference images, which is preferred. Sometimes the use of copyright free commercial license images are used. When using photographs they are turned to grayscale to verify the values.

Color Swatching & First Layers

beginings of pink bleeding heart watercolor flower painting.

  1. Drawing the image onto the watercolor paper. (not shown)

  2. Create Swatches of color and determining pigments and mixes that will be used in the painting.

  3. First Layers

Glazing Layers and Adding the Background

  1. Glazing : adding layers of watercolor paint over a previous layer or layers of watercolor paint.

  2. Adding the background.

  3. Not pictured - touch ups and darkening the darks.

Starting Again

a flat lay of watercolor brushes, watercolor pigments, palettes used in painting Yesterdays - pink bleeding heart flowers.

Poof the course of the painting was changed. You were warned how photos are forgotten. The new course followed above. The first try rarely makes the cut. These paintings are saved for future experimenting.

Questions asked when troubleshooting a painting:

  • Is their contrast? Shapes, Values

  • If uncertain about values, take a photo, change it to gray scale, see what that image shows.

  • Is their Color Harmony?

  • Ask: What attracts the eye first? Where does the eye wander through the painting?

  • Now hold it up to a mirror and ask the above questions.

  • What story is being told? What story was intended?

  • Walk away for a day or so then really LOOK. What is seen now?

  • Anything out of place? Ugliness? Washed out areas? Rich or Wimpy colors?

Photo Setup

Usually a tidied up painting surface becomes the photo surface.

A camera phone is used to take the pictures.

In the past either the PIXLR or Snapseed app was used to crop and adjust lighting as needed. Updates are causing these apps to be used less.

Scanning and Uploading

Once happy with the painting, and it's dry...Next Steps:

  1. scan

  2. prep in Photoshop for size requirements and if necessary color adjustments

  3. upload it to print on demand for art prints and products

  4. New! Some originals are matted, bagged and tagged, then brought to LZBTH Creative's booth located at: University Pickers - Huntsville, 3405 Triana Blvd SW 35805

Thank you for visiting and reading.

Your Painterly Artist who loves playing in colorful puddles,


You can find out more about Tara Leaver
Book Recommendation:
Master Disasters: Five Ways to Rescue Desperate Watercolors By Susan Webb
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