Whether you want to create realistic figurative art or something more abstract or impressionist, watercolors are up to the task. Here are 35 inspiring watercolor painting ideas, easy to advanced.

35 Inspiring Watercolor Painting Ideas

Get inspired with these references. Find a suggestion that meets your skill level and work your way up, or head back to the basics at any time.

Follow along with these five watercolor painting tips for every skill level.

Watercolor Paintings for Beginners

1. Watercolor Sketchbooks

city sketch
Turn ordinary scenes into something special by painting them.

Many professional artists will have a sketchbook they take everywhere with them, and this is a good habit for hobby and aspiring artists to get into, too. Paint what you see around you with a portable watercolor set, and embellish with pen and pencil.

2. Galaxies

galaxy
Nebulae, planets, comets, and other galactic forms.

The properties of watercolor paints lend themselves to a galactic scene. Although it looks detailed, this is one of those easy watercolor painting ideas that anyone can attempt.

3. Colorful Peacock

peacock
Student work by Cassandra Epalle for Watercolor Painting for Beginners and Kids: Drawing and Painting a Peacock.

Kids and total beginners can learn the basics of planning and painting a watercolor painting by working on this peacock project. 

4. Butterflies

butterflies
Looking for easy watercolor painting ideas? Butterflies are a good subject for beginners.

The colors and details of these butterflies are a good way to learn watercolor basics, but they can also be rewarding for more advanced painters.

5. Garden Vegetables

carrots
Watercolor carrots in different shades of orange and brown.

Almost anything can be a subject for watercolor painting, such as these colorful carrots, which allow beginner artists the chance to practice core watercolor techniques.

6. Shaded Donuts

donut
Student work by Katerina Kreutzer for The Watercolor Painting Series - Semi-Realistic Complementary Donuts.

Looking for easy watercolor painting ideas for beginners? Painting these semi-realistic donuts is a good way to practice light and shadow. 

7. Fall Leaves

leaves
Fall leaves are a simple watercolor painting project for beginners.

These fallen autumn leaves are painted using wet-on-wet, light to dark, and lifting watercolor painting techniques.

8. Delicate Roses

roses
Student work by Yaela Sans for Watercolor Painting: Create Watercolor Flowers.

Flowers are a popular subject for watercolor paintings, as soft hues capture the delicacy of roses perfectly.

9. Vivid Colors

colorful animals
Watercolor animals in vivid colors.

Not all watercolor paintings need to represent real, naturalistic colors. These animals are painted using a vivid palette.

10. Pine Tree Night Scene

night scapes
Learn to paint silhouettes of pine trees.

Pine trees are distinctive but quite simple to paint and can be incorporated into day and night-time landscapes.

11. Hibiscus Flower

flowers
Student work by Beatrix Fekete for Learn to Paint Botanical Watercolors with a Modern Twist.

Careful use of color blooms, a characteristic of watercolor paints, creates this multi-hued hibiscus flower.

12. Starry Night Sky

night sky
Student work by Laura Davies for Painting a Starry Night Sky with Watercolors.

The colors of the night sky can be painted with watercolors, and the white flecks for stars added later.

13. Rainbow Monstera Leaf

leaf
Easy watercolor painting ideas for beginners don’t have to be plain.

Using modern color combinations and carefully placed white spaces, it’s easy to paint fresh, on-trend botanicals.

Watercolor Paintings for Intermediate Painters

14. Snowy Scenes

snowy scenes
Student work by Lorri C. for Let it Snow: Learn to Paint 5 Simple Yet Beautiful Snowy Watercolor Paintings

Utilizing white space can be a tricky part of painting with watercolors, and painting snowy scenes is a good way to practice.

15. Fox

fox
Learn to paint and watercolor fox with Watercolor Fox - Adding the Element of Texture to Your Watercolor Paintings. 

This fox is created using the watercolor techniques of blooms and salt on wet paint to create texture.

16. Doors and Windows

door and window
Attractive doors and windows aren’t too difficult to paint.

Whether you’ve observed them in your home town or on your travels, striking doors and windows have a magnetic appeal and can be captured in watercolors.

17. Abstract Watercolor Painting

abstract blue
Student work by Isa Cienfuegos for Abstract Watercolor Paintings: Explore Through Freeform and Planned Process.

Out of watercolor painting ideas? Try an abstract watercolor painting, using both a freeform and a planned technique.

18. Abstract Floral Watercolor

flowers
Student work by Michelle Kral for Loosen Up and Play: How to Create an Abstract Floral Watercolor Painting.

If you’ve practiced painting figurative flowers, why not have a go at painting more abstract floral scenes?

19. Beautiful Landscapes

boats
Beautiful and detailed landscapes can be painted with watercolors.

You don’t need advanced watercolor painting skills to paint beautiful landscapes, such as this one by artist Milan Glozic.

20. Mixed-Media Mushrooms

mushrooms
Mushrooms created with ink and watercolor paint.

Combining watercolor paint with pen or other media can enhance your artwork and create depth and detail.

21. Pet Portrait

cat
Student work by Carmen Davalos for Watercolor Painting: Cute & Realistic Cat Step by Step. Pet Portrait Techniques.

Capture your faithful cat, dog, or other pet in a cute and realistic pet portrait.

22. Watercolor Paper Collage

watercolor collages
Watercolor paper collages framed and decorating a dining room.

If you’ve been painting for a while and have lots of scrap paper washed with watercolor, upcycle them into collages. You can create the colored paper from scratch, too.

23. Misty Mountain Landscape

landscapee
Student work by Y K for Watercolor Painting: Misty Mountains Landscape.

Learning to paint a misty mountain scene will give you the chance to practice blending paint colors and tones. 

24. Loose Florals

flowers
Loose florals give the impression of flowers without fine details.

Watercolor painters who have mastered the basic techniques can develop their floral painting skills and try these loose, impressionist-style florals.

25. Floral Galaxy

galaxy
Student work by Jamaica Arvisu for Floral Galaxy Painting with Watercolor and White Ink.

Galaxies are a good beginner-level watercolor project, but intermediate artists can take them to the next level by adding details and layers with white paint.

Watercolor Paintings for Experts

26. Portraits

portrait
Student work by Atilla Aydemir for Watercolor Portraits - Dynamic Atmosphere and Whimsical Art Tones

Portraits of people don’t need to use realistic colors to be effective. Experiment with colors and shadows.

27. House Portrait

house
A watercolor house portrait is a way to remember a special place.

People aren’t the only worthy subject of a portrait. Significant houses can be a great subject, too.

28. Travel Scene

venice
A canal scene in Venice, portrayed in watercolors.

Remember your travels with detailed watercolor paintings of beautiful scenes, based on photos.

29. Wet-on-Wet Cat

cat
Use the wet-on-wet technique to paint a cat.

The wet-on-wet technique makes the most of watercolor paints’ unique properties, creating a fuzzy, misty effect, as seen in this painting of a furry cat.

30. A Crystal Vase

vase
This painting of a crystal vase captures the colors and light of the real object.

Capturing the colors, light, and tones of a crystal-cut vase is a great project for advanced watercolor painters.

31. Realistic Landscape

landscape
Watercolor painting of the Inside Passage.

Watercolors can be used to paint detailed, realistic-looking landscapes, such as this one of the sea, forests, mountains, and sky of the Inside Passage.

32. Impressionist Scene

port scene
Capture the light of a seascape in an Impressionist-inspired painting.

The 19th-century Impressionists were renowned for their use of light and shade. Experienced watercolor painters can learn some of their techniques.

33. Hamsa Hand

Hamsa hand symbol
Variations of the ancient Hamsa symbol.

The Hamsa is an ancient North African spiritual symbol representing protection, power, and strength. Experienced painters can design and paint a Hamsa using watercolors.

34. Fashion Figure

floral dress
Student work by Anna Pino Ravelli for Painting with Watercolors: From Inspiration to Fashion Illustration. 

Whether you have ambitions to be a fashion designer or not, watercolors are a good way of depicting the color, detail, and drape of clothing. 

35. Watercolor Painting to Digital Pattern

shapes
Student work by Rose Herczeg for iPad Art: Watercolor Painting to Digital Seamless Pattern on Your iPad.

Experienced watercolor painters might like to experiment with digitizing their paintings, such as with this repeat pattern created on an iPad.

Choose Your Watercolor Paint Wisely

Don't underestimate the importance of finding the right tools to guide you on your watercolor adventure. There's no need to worry though – our Skillshare teachers have you covered with their recommendations for your next watercolor session.

Paint Fresh, On-Trend Watercolors

Modern Watercolor Techniques: Explore Skills to Create On-Trend Paintings

Written By

Elen Turner

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