How To Become A Watercolor Artist


How Does It Really Happen?

It Seems That Some Things Just Happen

I think this is a very true statement, it does seem like some things just happen. I can’t think of anything specific right this moment, but maybe something will come to me as I continue to write this post :)

When we get the bug that we want to become something, like a watercolor artist, we may first have a desire to look at great watercolor artist’s work that we are naturally drawn to.

For instance, I first looked at Georgia O’Keeffe’s work - and I bought every book of her’s that I could get my hands on. And since I couldn’t afford her art, I bought every poster I could find downtown Seattle in the poster stores. Oh how I wanted to paint flowers like her!

Then I moved on to Beatrix Potter and I had my family buy her books for me, for Christmas, my birthday and Mother’s Day. I drew and painted several of the paintings from her books trying to be an artist just like Beatrix Potter!

What I was doing was natural, as I think most of us who dream of being an artist are drawn to those who have already achieved the dream. But those great artists didn’t become who they are by dreaming only, it didn’t just happen! They worked hard and practiced… ALL THEIR LIVES!

Why Wait Any Longer?

So why wait one more day? Let’s get to it! I think I have some great ideas here!

Steps To Becoming A Watercolor Artist

First: Practice. To do this simple act, you must have paper, watercolors and a brush. Some say that you need to have the best of these things, but really to just get started any kind will do. The main thing is to just get practicing and become familiar with your brush and the watercolor and how they react to each other and the paper you are using. You can buy the good stuff later :)


Second: Begin with something small and easy, like a daisy. Simply make a large filled in circle of yellow, then paint pink petals coming out from that circle. Make a dark green stem and some light green leaves. Now make daisies all over the page, using different colors. Use a small brush and then a larger one. Use lots of water on your paper, then try wiping some of the wetness off your brush on a towel before painting. First let the paint do what it’s going to do and then try to control it a bit the next time. Add a lot of color, then try wiping it away with a clean brush. Again, the main thing is to just get practicing and experiencing.


Third: As my artist friend, Nancy F., says, “Let your Picasso come out!” Let your art style emerge the way it will at first, because as you practice it will change. In an email a friend just commented on how much better her botanical illustration has become. I didn’t have to ask her if she has been practicing because I know that is the only way she has gotten better. Once again, just practicing is the main thing.

Fourth: Make a commitment to practice every day. Maybe just for 10-15 minutes at first, then build up naturally to a timeframe that feels right for you.

Fifth: Maybe consider getting yourself a watercolor journal, with some nicer watercolor paints and a nice watercolor brush. Search for an online watercolor group that submits their work once a week or make a commitment to fill one page every day in your journal and you could do this for a week, or a month, or a year.


Your goal in order to become a watercolor artist should be to make practicing a part of your daily routine. Maybe ask a friend to join you and you could swap one journal back and forth filling the pages with both of your art! I am doing this with my sweet friend, Victoria from England right now. We swap one journal between the two of us each month. We have only one month to go and it will be filled! It’s so amazing to do this and very inspiring and encouraging when you watch your art grow together!

My first watercolor journal as an adult is so cool to look back on now! I’m just so glad I started!

I started by finding interesting things around the house to draw and paint… Like this vase my husband brought back for me from a missionary trip to Russia.


Or these flowers, apples and oranges.


Here I tried to do the landscape of our homestead from my window - and then one day I just doodled.

An attempt at a Hydrangea leaf

An attempt at a Hydrangea leaf

Practicing with colors in these two

Practicing with colors in these two

Flowers and a stream coming down from a hill

Flowers and a stream coming down from a hill

Studying Beatrix Potter and our bunnies

Studying Beatrix Potter and our bunnies

A story about a girl who loves Jesus

A story about a girl who loves Jesus

Some Daisies

Some Daisies

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon and a Maple Leaf from my homestead.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon and a Maple Leaf from my homestead.

Sixth: You may consider taking an online watercolor course. There are plenty online courses that are outstanding and I could tell you about many I have personally taken and loved. The best way to find one that will fit you is to search for online watercolor courses.

Seventh: Over time you may find that you like to draw out your image on watercolor paper before you begin watercolor work, and this is how botanical illustration is done. The live subject is carefully observed, dissected and studied, and then measured, in order to achieve just the right composition on paper.

It is then drawn out lightly, and once the drawing is just right, watercolor techniques are used to complete the piece, building up layers for an incredible life-like piece of art.

Some of my work from the online 6-month

Some of my work from the online 6-month

RBGE Certificate Course earlier this year.

RBGE Certificate Course earlier this year.

Eighth: In other forms of watercolor art, the artist may not choose to draw out their subject at first, but instead may choose to just begin painting. The artist can use their own interpretation of the subject in this kind of art and they can even use other mediums, such as Micron black pens as I do. This is a beautiful way to enhance watercolor art.

The original piece of this Autumn Trio is available in my Shop - just click this photo!

The original piece of this Autumn Trio is available in my Shop - just click this photo!

Ninth: Depending on how quickly you advance in your watercolor techniques, you may want to consider taking more advanced courses and maybe even apply to get a diploma in watercolor art, or study under a professional watercolor artist in your area. There are many art schools that offer online courses and are definitely worth looking into if you are serious about a possible career as a watercolor artist.

Tenth: You can make a blog as I have here (you can contact me if you need help with a blog of your own) and begin showing your art publicly and even creating a shop in order to sell it. You could also consider showing your art in local bazaars for holidays and other times of the year. Setting up a table in a park for an art festival and actually painting while people watch you is a wonderful way to become known as a watercolor artist in your own community.

Eleventh: You could enter your art in exhibitions. This may sound scary or overwhelming to you, but it is all organized and thought out in advance for you by committees and the process can be quite simple and prove to be a great experience. Your art may even sell in an exhibition!

Twelfth: If you choose botanical watercolor art, you can become a member of your local botanical garden and ask to show your art in their gift store, or on special event days. This is another great way to get to know other artists in your local community and allow them to know you!

These are just a few things I can think of from the top of my head that are beneficial in getting you started on your path to becoming a watercolor artist. As you can see, it doesn’t just happen :)

If this really is a desire of yours, and I think it is a wonderful thing to desire to do, then don’t delay any longer! I really want to encourage you to go ahead and take the leap and do #1 on this list and slowly move yourself through the steps. Over time you just may look back and find that you have become a watercolor artist!

Be sure to keep your art as you go. Don’t throw one single piece away. Store it, so you can look back on it and see how much you have advanced from simply practicing over the course of a week, a month, or a year - Before you know it, people will be referring to you as a watercolor artist!!

And as one of my favorite Bible verses says:

Make it your goal to live a quiet life,
minding your own business and working with your hands,
just as we instructed you before.
— 1 Thessalonians 4:11



P.S. - If you enjoyed this post and it has been helpful to you, please leave a comment below letting me know. Do you have any other ideas on how to become a watercolor artist? I can add it to this list if you like - just let me know :) I truly love to hear from my readers!!