These abstract watercolor designs are incredibly simple, making them perfect for beginners. Master all three, then showcase your work in a gallery wall!

By Sydney Price
October 01, 2018

It might be years since you’ve picked up a watercolor palette (hello, childhood!), but we've all walked past artwork in a store and thought, “I wish I could make that.” We can’t all be Michelangelo, but simple modern art is well within your reach. Armed with these three easy watercolor painting ideas, you can dress up a gallery wall with DIY pieces that only look expensive. All of these techniques apply water to the paper first as an invisible guide. Watch to see how we did it, then get more watercolor painting tips below. Once your projects are dry, frame and mat them to instantly upgrade your DIY watercolor art.

1. Circle Swirl

To start this watercolor painting idea, pick one main paint color (we chose blue), then use various shades of that same color. Use a flat, curved brush to keep your circle edges round. Make a large C-shaped circle on the paper using just water and a clean brush. Dip your brush in the darkest paint color and trace the outline of the water. The paint will naturally spread through the wet areas. Continue layering various paint shades and water until you are happy with your design. Finally, saturate the brush and gently flick at the ends of the circle to make splatter marks.

Editor’s Tip: The more water you apply, the more translucent your design will be. And the more paint you apply, the more opaque your design will be.

2. Brushstrokes

Choose two shades in the same color family for each block of color. Use a flat, square brush to apply water on the paper in large, rectangular strokes. Start with the darkest color and drag the paint from left to right over the water block, easing pressure on the paper at the end to give it the appearance of trailing off. Layer on lighter shades the same way.

For a blended look, dip the brush in two shades at once and pull across the paper. Mix two hues to make a third color, if desired. Repeat the process for additional sections.

3. Gradient Dots

Use various hues from the same color family. Try warm tones, such as yellow, red, and orange, or cool tones, such as blue, green, and purple. With a round brush, apply water to the paper in rows of small circles. Carefully outline the circles with paint. Drop water in the center of each paint circle to dilute it. Add a second paint shade to circles on one side of the page for a gradient effect. Connect rows at random, if you’d like. Lift up the paper and tilt it around gently to blend the paint within each circle.

Editor’s Tip: Work in small groups of circles, moving down the page. If you apply all of your water dots at once, the bottom ones may dry before you can apply the paint.


Comments (1)

elainerlastgma
November 2, 2018
I see nothing appealing about any of these.