Just Add Watercolor

This is the first weekend I’ve had in awhile to finally just relax.  Nothing crazy is going on, I’m home alone for once, which means I can enjoy doing some things that lately I have not had the time for.  One of these things is painting.  I used to paint all the time, mostly with acrylics, and in the fall of 2014 I even took an oil painting class to try and learn some other painting techniques.  One type of painting that I have always wanted to get into but just haven’t had the chance to try it out is watercolors.  Watercolors have always appealed to me because they make the painting seem much softer and seem like so much fun.

Just Add Watercolor - Helen Birch

A few weeks ago I got a book called “Just Add Watercolor” by Helen Birch, which goes through a bunch of different watercolor styles and techniques with examples of artwork from different artists.  Although this book does not actually explain how to do each technique, it does give you a rough idea of how to accomplish each piece. “Just Add Watercolor” touches on 88 different types of watercolor techniques, which also includes using watercolors with gouache, digitally, with mixed media, through other water-based media, and non-paper media.  Some of the styles and techniques used are for more advanced watercolor painters, but there are quite a few techniques and styles to give a beginner watercolor painter some inspiration.

Helen Birch gives brief explanations on how to accomplish each style/technique by explaining whether or not the painting was created via  wet to dry or wet on wet, etc. and also gives some detail on what sort of brush the artist used.  The breakdowns of the paintings she does gives an idea of how to accomplish this sort of watercolor style, without giving you how-to-do instructions.

Even though I’ve never used watercolors before, I decided to try my hand out on a couple of different types of watercolor painting techniques.  I decided to do 3 different styles/techniques – Glazed Landscape, Using Secondary Colors, and Keeping Things Spontaneous.

Just Add Watercolor - Glazed Landscape

Just Add Watercolor - Using Secondary Colors

Just Add Watercolor - Keeping Things Spontaneous

The first one I tried out was the Glazed Landscape.  In this style, you use the same color in 7 or so different hues that gradually go down in color to give off the impression of a landscape.

Glazed Landscape

The second one I tried out was Using Secondary Colors.  I failed miserably at trying to recreate this painting, but have a couple shots of what I did do in order for you to get an idea of how Using Secondary Colors works.  Basically with this style you try to use opposite colors.  The main color in this painting is purple.  On the color wheel orange is purples opposite, so strokes of orange are placed into the painting in order to give it more pop, as well as yellow and green with fall on either side of orange on the color wheel.

Using Secondary Colors


Using Secondary Colors

The last watercolor style I did was Keeping Things Spontaneous.  This style encourages you to create a painting with a lot of wet on wet painting.  I attempted to do this, basing my painting off of a small succulent plant I have at my house, and it was hard to do only because I’m not entirely sure what the best way to prepare your watercolors is.  So it was hard to me to get the wet on wet portion more because I don’t think I was using enough water to get the more blurry effect of wet on wet.

Keeping Things Spontaneous

In all, I think this book is good to get ideas from if you already have a basic knowledge of how to paint with watercolors.  However, for someone like me who has never tried painting with watercolors before, it was harder to implement these styles/techniques since I don’t have a base knowledge of watercolor painting to go off of.  I am still glad that I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review, because I think it will definitely help me more in the future when I do have more knowledge on the proper way to paint with watercolors.


Review of Just Add Watercolor by Helen Birch

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