• Kirsty Partridge

8 Watercolor Techniques to Spice Up Boring Paintings

Think your watercolor painting looks a bit drab? Why don’t you try these eight, great techniques and bring your watercolor painting back to sparkly life? I’m going to show you how I use them whilst painting a lovely jellyfish. If you would like to follow along to this painting in real time and see exactly how it’s done, then why don’t you check out my Patreon page?


Technique 1

Let’s start off with masking fluid, a staple of my watercolor kit. It really is amazing at preserving highlights. My favorite method is using a masking fluid pen but you can also get it in bottles and apply with a paint brush. I apply it to the jellyfish tentacles so when I’m painting other areas I don’t have to worry about getting paint on these highlights – the masking fluid will protect them. When your painting is dry you can use a tea towel to simply rub the masking fluid off. Try not to use your fingers as that can be surprisingly painful!


Technique 2

The wet-on-wet method. A lot of you will probably know this method, I utilize it in almost every single painting I do. If you don’t know it, all you need to do is wet the paper and then add darker colors. This allows the colors to bleed into each other and give a really soft effect. Bleeding out equals no harsh edges and is great for blurry backgrounds, which I love as your subject is then more of the focus. In this case I use it for the watery background around the jellyfish, with blue, purple and black all bleeding into each other.


Technique 3

Dropping water into the paint creates starry lighter effects in the darker colors. I chose to drop it into the darker black areas for a lovely contrast. Further on I used this technique for the hood of the jellyfish (sorry I don’t know what it’s called) and you can really see a cool starry effect.

It can be a nightmare if you do this by accident however, so be careful to not use pure water when blending out if you don’t want this look.


Technique 4

Salt is amazing! I’m just going to sprinkle a little bit onto my water background (whilst it is still wet) and it gives a really interesting effect. I would recommend it in snow and ice paintings as well.




Technique 5

Using tissue is great, as it can do many different things for you. It can add texture, add lighter patterns, create highlights or lift up your paint. Wetness is key here; else the technique won’t work. Tissue is also great if you make a mistake because it will just come along and lift that paint right up. What mistake!?


Technique 6

You’ll know if you’ve watched a lot of my videos, but I love to add splatters to my paintings. I love splatters everywhere! I used pink for the jellyfish, so I added pink splatters to the water background, just to tie the two in together. If you are interested in a more expressive style, then splatters are a great way to achieve this.


Technique 7

You’ve heard about the wet-on-wet method but now it’s time for the wet-on-dry method. This is what I like to use to add in sharp, crisp details as the paint won’t bleed out (the other paints have already dried). With a water brush pen this method allows you to add more contrast to your painting, which is one of the main reasons a painting will look eye-catching. Good contrast will come from dark shadows and bright highlights. For the jellyfish I added lots more shadows this way, making sure my values were correct to make it really stand out.


Technique 8

White gouache is another love of mine to utilize the full range of values as possible for that all-important contrast. I added more highlights and splatters to the jellyfish that are a lovely bright white. Any part of your painting that needs to be a bit brighter then white gouache is the answer!


If you would like to learn more tips and tricks about watercolor paintings, then you can also check out my online courses.


Finally, here is the finished jellyfish;



Materials featured in this blog:

Cotman watercolours: http://geni.us/StarterWatercolorSet

Cold Pressed Paper: http://geni.us/Archescoldpressed

Molotow masking fluid pen: http://geni.us/maskingfluidpen

Silver Brush Paintbrushes: http://geni.us/Brushset

Windsor and newton gouache: http://geni.us/DesignerWhiteGouache

Washi Tape: https://geni.us/washitapeset


See these techniques in action:

Disclaimer; some links are Amazon affiliated.

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