36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (2024)

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (1)

Photo: Stock Photos from TorriPhoto/Shutterstock
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Watercolor painting is one of the easiest creative activities to pick up. There are only a few supplies that you need—a set of paints, paintbrushes, paper, and water—and there are just a handful of essential techniques to know before you put pigment to paper. This brilliant simplicity means that it’s a breeze to start and finish a watercolor painting in the same day. So, what are you going to paint?

Deciding what you’ll paint can sometimes be the hardest part of the entire creative process. Do you want a subject matter that will challenge your skills? Are you looking to hone how you depict realism, or are you interested in testing the limit of your abstraction? What kinds of watercolor techniques would you like to use in your project? Making these decisions will prove vital to what you decide to paint, but they can feel overwhelming and leave you scratching your head.

If you’re in need of watercolor painting ideas, never fear! We’ve come up with a myriad of concepts that range from easy to challenging, and they all lend themselves to the carefree fluidity that’s indicative of the medium. We recommend picking a few ideas that you like and, if applicable, make a sketch of what you'd like to paint. When you’re happy with the composition, start applying color and watch the watercolor work its magic.

Check out some watercolor painting ideas below.

Table of Contents hide

1 In need of something to paint? We’ve got 36 watercolor painting ideas you can try today that range from simple to complex concepts.

2 Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

2.1 Experiment! Try different colors and test out a variety of watercolor painting techniques.

2.2 Washes that resemble the sky. Try painting the sunset with the wet-on-wet approach.

2.3 The starry night sky. Try preserving your white paper with masking fluid.

2.4 Simple landscape with hills or mountains.

2.5 Put your spin on the iconic rainbow.

2.6 A decorative pattern. Make sure you start easy and work up to more complex motifs.

2.7 A single piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange. To make your composition more interesting, try slicing it in half.

2.8 Fresh flowers (like daisies, tulips, or sunflowers).

2.9 Your favorite Disney or video game character.

2.10 A tranquil lake scene or a beach. (Optional: include a boat, animal, or beach umbrella.)

2.11 A ladybug on a leaf.

2.12 Your favorite pairs of shoes.

2.13 An aerial view you’d see from an airplane.

2.14 An interesting tree you saw on a recent hike.

2.15 Your morning cup of tea or coffee. Use the fluidity of the watercolor to capture the steam coming off the hot beverage.

2.16 Balloons and confetti. Learn how to make vibrant hues with the pigment.

2.17 A fluffy cat or dog using smudgy watercolor washes.

4 Challenging Watercolor Painting Ideas

4.1 Recreate an old family photograph.

4.2 A collection of your favorite glass bottles. The more you add, the more challenging the painting will be.

4.3 A smattering of spoons, knives, and forks. Be sure to pay attention to the reflections in them!

4.4 A bouquet of flowers—roses are some of the most challenging blooms you can paint.

4.5 The plumage on a peacock.

4.6 Pet portraits—these make great gifts!

4.7 A fire-breathing dragon.

4.8 Go outside! Sketch a building on location. Can you capture the people around there, too?

4.9 A beetle with an iridescent shell. Try to recreate all of the gorgeous colors you see.

4.10 Part of the human body. An entire face is the hardest to paint. For something a little easier (but still challenging), try rendering the hands or feet.

4.11 Your favorite room in your home.

4.12 What you see from your bedroom window.

4.13 Paint the monsters living under a bed.

4.14 Crashing waves on a shore.

4.15 A magical unicorn.

4.16 Venture into Surrealism by merging two things into one—such as a bird with leaves in place of its feathers.

4.17 Your main mode of transportation, whether that is a bike, car, scooter, or public transit. Try showing them in an environment.

4.18 A bustling underwater scene.

5 Once you’re done painting, be sure to share your work in our Art, Design, Photography, and Drawing Club on Facebook!

In need of something to paint? We’ve got 36 watercolor painting ideas you can try today that range from simple to complex concepts.

The great thing about many of these ideas is that the simpler concepts can evolve into more challenging ones. With flowers, for instance, it’s relatively easy to paint a daisy or a tulip. When you’re ready, try adding a rose to your bouquet.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (2)

Stock Photos from Ekaterina Iatcenko /Shutterstock

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

Experiment! Try different colors and test out a variety of watercolor painting techniques.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (3)

Photo: ChrisAt/Depositphotos

Washes that resemble the sky. Try painting the sunset with the wet-on-wet approach.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (4)

Photo: ViktoriiaDyachenko/Depositphotos

The starry night sky. Try preserving your white paper with masking fluid.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (5)

Photo: Rastan/Depositphotos

Simple landscape with hills or mountains.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (6)

Photo: [emailprotected]/Depositphotos

Put your spin on the iconic rainbow.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (7)

Photo: ibogdan/Depositphotos

A decorative pattern. Make sure you start easy and work up to more complex motifs.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (8)

Photo: oaurea/Depositphotos

A single piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange. To make your composition more interesting, try slicing it in half.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (9)

Photo: Dream79/Depositphotos

Fresh flowers (like daisies, tulips, or sunflowers).

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (10)

Photo: st-design/Depositphotos

Your favorite Disney or video game character.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (11)

Photo: sobin/Depositphotos

A tranquil lake scene or a beach. (Optional: include a boat, animal, or beach umbrella.)

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (12)

Photo: elenathewise/Depositphotos

A ladybug on a leaf.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (13)

Photo: monner/Depositphotos

Your favorite pairs of shoes.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (14)

Photo: drupa79/Depositphotos

An aerial view you’d see from an airplane.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (15)

Photo: lyulka.86/Depositphotos

An interesting tree you saw on a recent hike.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (16)

Photo: Kannap/Depositphotos

Your morning cup of tea or coffee. Use the fluidity of the watercolor to capture the steam coming off the hot beverage.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (17)

Photo: Subbotina/Depositphotos

Balloons and confetti. Learn how to make vibrant hues with the pigment.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (18)

Photo: IrenLo/Depositphotos

A fluffy cat or dog using smudgy watercolor washes.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (19)

Photo: OlezzoSimona/Depositphotos

Once you've completed all of the easy ideas, you can step up the difficulty level!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (20)

Stock Photos from sashafolly/Shutterstock

Challenging Watercolor Painting Ideas

Recreate an old family photograph.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (21)

Photo: zurijeta/Depositphotos

A collection of your favorite glass bottles. The more you add, the more challenging the painting will be.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (22)

Photo: tsyb.oleg.gmail.com/Depositphotos

A smattering of spoons, knives, and forks. Be sure to pay attention to the reflections in them!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (23)

Photo: VadimVasenin/Depositphotos

A bouquet of flowers—roses are some of the most challenging blooms you can paint.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (24)

Photo: VadimVasenin/Depositphotos

The plumage on a peacock.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (25)

Photo: Hintau_Aliaksey/Depositphotos

Pet portraits—these make great gifts!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (26)

Photo: Photoboyko/Depositphotos

A fire-breathing dragon.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (27)

Photo: FairytaleDesign/Depositphotos

Go outside! Sketch a building on location. Can you capture the people around there, too?

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (28)

Photo: VIAVAL/Depositphotos

A beetle with an iridescent shell. Try to recreate all of the gorgeous colors you see.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (29)

Photo: bornin54/Depositphotos

Part of the human body. An entire face is the hardest to paint. For something a little easier (but still challenging), try rendering the hands or feet.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (30)

Photo: NatashaFedorova/Depositphotos

Your favorite room in your home.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (31)

Photo: iofoto/Depositphotos

What you see from your bedroom window.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (32)

Photo: romantiche/Depositphotos

Paint the monsters living under a bed.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (33)

Photo: innovatedcaptures/Depositphotos

Crashing waves on a shore.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (34)

Photo: irisphoto11/Depositphotos

A magical unicorn.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (35)

Photo: CoreyFord/Depositphotos

Venture into Surrealism by merging two things into one—such as a bird with leaves in place of its feathers.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (36)

Photo: cranach2/Depositphotos

Your main mode of transportation, whether that is a bike, car, scooter, or public transit. Try showing them in an environment.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (37)

Photo: [emailprotected]/Depositphotos

A bustling underwater scene.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (38)

Photo: GraphicsMonarch/Depositphotos

Need more art ideas? Check out our drawing ideas, acrylic painting ideas, and sketchbook ideas.

Related Articles:

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Learn to Draw Anything with These Handy Online Resources and Books

Artist Captures the Magic of the Cosmos in Visually Textured Watercolor Paintings

8 Best Watercolor Marker Sets for Beginners and Professionals

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Watercolor painting is a popular creative activity that requires only a few supplies and can be easily picked up by beginners. To help you get started, here are some watercolor painting ideas ranging from simple to complex concepts:

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas:

  1. Experiment with different colors and watercolor painting techniques [[1]].
  2. Paint washes that resemble the sky, such as a sunset using the wet-on-wet approach [[2]].
  3. Create a starry night sky by preserving the white paper with masking fluid [[3]].
  4. Paint a simple landscape with hills or mountains [[4]].
  5. Put your spin on the iconic rainbow [[5]].
  6. Create a decorative pattern, starting with easy motifs and gradually working up to more complex ones [[6]].
  7. Paint a single piece of fruit, like an apple or an orange, and consider slicing it in half to make the composition more interesting [[7]].
  8. Try painting fresh flowers, such as daisies, tulips, or sunflowers [[8]].
  9. Paint your favorite Disney or video game character [[9]].
  10. Create a tranquil lake scene or a beach, optionally including a boat, animal, or beach umbrella [[10]].
  11. Paint a ladybug on a leaf [[11]].
  12. Capture your favorite pairs of shoes in a watercolor painting [[12]].
  13. Paint an aerial view that you would see from an airplane [[13]].
  14. Create a watercolor painting of an interesting tree you saw on a recent hike [[14]].
  15. Use the fluidity of watercolor to capture the steam coming off your morning cup of tea or coffee [[15]].
  16. Paint balloons and confetti, experimenting with vibrant hues [[16]].
  17. Create a fluffy cat or dog using smudgy watercolor washes [[17]].

Challenging Watercolor Painting Ideas:

  1. Recreate an old family photograph [[18]].
  2. Paint a collection of your favorite glass bottles, adding more bottles to increase the challenge [[19]].
  3. Paint a smattering of spoons, knives, and forks, paying attention to the reflections in them [[20]].
  4. Challenge yourself by painting a bouquet of flowers, with roses being one of the most challenging blooms to paint [[21]].
  5. Paint the intricate plumage of a peacock [[22]].
  6. Consider painting pet portraits, which can make great gifts [[23]].
  7. Challenge yourself by painting a fire-breathing dragon [[24]].
  8. Go outside and sketch a building on location, trying to capture the people around as well [[25]].
  9. Paint a beetle with an iridescent shell, recreating all the gorgeous colors you see [[26]].
  10. Paint part of the human body, such as the hands or feet, or challenge yourself with an entire face [[27]].
  11. Create a watercolor painting of your favorite room in your home [[28]].
  12. Paint what you see from your bedroom window [[29]].
  13. Let your imagination run wild and paint the monsters living under a bed [[30]].
  14. Capture the crashing waves on a shore in a watercolor painting [[31]].
  15. Paint a magical unicorn, exploring the whimsical side of watercolor [[32]].
  16. Venture into surrealism by merging two things into one, like a bird with leaves in place of its feathers [[33]].
  17. Paint your main mode of transportation, whether it's a bike, car, scooter, or public transit, and consider showing them in an environment [[34]].
  18. Create a bustling underwater scene, exploring the vibrant colors and life beneath the surface [[35]].

Remember, these are just ideas to get you started, and you can always add your own creative twist to them. Enjoy the process and have fun with your watercolor painting!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (2024)
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