How I learned to paint with watercolour

check this list out for a comprehensive beginner watercolour lesson package and enjoy the learning

This is a reference list to the sources of information that I had used when I was working in my first sketchbook. It chronicles the series of lessons I took to upgrade my skills in watercolour. My journey is not the only way to learn watercolour. But I hope you had seen something you like from my sketchbook and will pick up a thing or two from this lesson plan that I had designed for myself.

Take a tour of my first complete sketchbook here:

I had spent a lot of time searching for these tutorials and putting them in logical order for learning. Please enjoy.

General advice that you will see in any watercolor tutorial for beginners:

  1. Buy professional, artist grade watercolour
  2. Buy watercolour paper
  3. Use natural hair brushes as much as possible; beware of acrylic paint brushes if you are buying synthetic hair brushes for watercolour
  4. Learn colour theory, the colour wheel, and how to mix your own colours FAST
  5. Start with smaller brushes – size 8 and under

In my sketchbook:

  1. Basic watercolour wash techniques for backgrounds with Kelly Eddington ( – (a) wet-on-wet, (b) wet-on-dry, (c) dry-on-dry, (d) dry-on-wet, (e) flat wash, (f) gradient/ fade, and (g) variegated.
  2. Exercise for understanding the transparency of watercolour; how to vary tone; how to lighten the colour e.g. from red to pink with TheWittyGrittyPaperCo. ( – I have found this to be easily the most valuable practice to do. You can do this practice over and over no matter your level of expertise.
  3. Watercolour-glazes is the deeper understanding of the transparency of watercolour. Take another lesson with Kelly Eddington. ( I find glazes to be my first real experience of layering in watercolour. The transparency of watercolours is by the far the most distinct characteristic and arguable the one characteristic that sets watercolour apart from other media. Many watercolourist are attracted to the unique transparency of watercolour and its ability to be layered.
  4. Colour-theory and mixing colours with Don Andrews at Cheap Joe’s ( and ( I felt most inspired by Don Andrews because of his craft and his lifetime spent on watercolour. I truly wanted to learn more because of him. These two videos introduce a beginner to the staples in watercolours very efficiently. Check out how to mix violets as well (
  5. Systematic way of learning what colours you could mix from the watercolours that you own with Alek Krylow ( I started making pages and pages of watercolour charts after learning his system to do so. I had learn so much through mixing only cyan, magenta, and yellow. Most notably, I know how to obtain autumn gold, all sorts of skin colours, tiffany blue, and all sorts of lipstick colours through this experience. This video is a MUST WATCH! He also offers a sensible first nine colours to buy – prussian blue, ultramarine blue, payne’s gray, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, yellow ochre, and lemon yellow.
  6. Discover what your brushes can do with Kelly Eddington ( I have found this exercise incredibly useful whenever I get a new brush.
  7. Up your game by creating backgrounds without a brush with Soon Y. Warren on ArtistsNetwork ( I definitely got into spraying my watercolours because of her.
  8. Time to mix it up – learn to use two colours on one brush, to paint flowers with April Numamoto ( All her videos are worth watching.
  9. More on painting flowers and the strokes involved with One Stroke Decorative Art (
  10. Try different effects for card-making with Scraps and Stamps (
  11. Good to learn that you can drip watercolour to achieve effects like painting a feather with ART TV by Fantasvale ( I never quite achieved this. I will have to get back to this some day.
  12. Definitely try watercolour galaxy with Studio of M.M ( Go darker. Watercolour will always dry lighter. Layer. Wait for layers to dry.
  13. Go to Instagram for some inspiration. I started imitating some works that inspired me. Save the works so that you have a neverending stream of inspiration when you find time to work your watercolours.
  14. Try stenciling. Dab a dry sponge on nearly-dry pan watercolours. Dab the colours through a stencil and check out what you could achieve! I did this using inexpensive ready-made palette instead of artist watercolour because the ready-made pans are so easy for me to push in the makeup sponge. I used inexpensive simple shape stencils too – squares, circles, ovals, that you could get at the stationery shop.
  15. Take note of cool and warm colours. Stick to three colours in the same cool or warm family if you want your designs to have harmony.
  16. Take your watercolour up a big notch by painting a full scenery through step-by-step tutorials with Jason Skill on Painting With Skill ( This guy is a phenomenal teacher. He has covered your back from choosing a paint bucket to producing a full nature scene.
  17. Get on the card-making wagon with K Werner Design. I started with a simple Valentine’s Day hearts cover ( You have to discern with her videos because many of them use a lot of items that are too expensive for beginners. I skip all those that use die-cuts. I stick to those that use only watercolours and remain flat.
  18. Learn how to make your subjects come alive with shadows and perspectives with Alphonso Dunn, a published author ( I feel like he scolds me all the time but for my own improvement. His video on colour theory is worth watching as well (
  19. I went on to try other brands of watercolour. And I am sticking with artists’ grades watercolour.
  20. I started to admire people who dare to paint outdoors and got some inspiration from Teoh Yi Chie on Parkablogs. I love his genuine disposition and conscientious attitude towards updating his channel. ( He has a great archive of videos that will likely answer many questions. Otherwise, he is responsive, so you could feel free to ask in the comments.
  21. I also found another down-to-earth watercolourist to learn landscape painting from – Patrick Ley-Greaves on ( I had watched almost all of his videos. I found his studio setup very useful as well (
  22. The community in is very supportive, so I started doing more imitations of pretty pictures I had found on Instagram and posting them on Patrick’s website. I am truly thankful for the community.
  23. Finally, I did an Alvaro Castagnet on the last page of my sketchbook! Alvaro Castagnet is arguably the king of watercolour today. Catch him giving fine art tips using a watercolour demonstration with Graeme Stevenson on Colour in Your Life (
  24. Last but not least, explore more watercolour brushes with faith6651 (

I hope you have enjoyed the two dozens of lessons in this package. Feel free to give me feedback on the curation of lessons.

To what extent have you found this list useful?

First blog post

Learning is so full of mistakes. As such, if one makes very little mistake, how much has one learned? How much has one grown in life?

Crack the Claypot is a translation from a Mandarin saying, 打破沙锅问到底。Crack the Claypot means to ask till the very end; to inquire until you expire.

I chose this name for my site because I remember my mother using this phrase on me fondly. She liked my inquiry but she was ever so slightly exasperated whenever I questioned non-stop.

I dedicate my site to all the questions that seem stupid for the sake of generating discussions and entertainment. I dedicate this site to the mistakes made and the lessons learning because learning is so full of mistakes.

I do not have the answers but we will find it together.

Let’s crack the claypot!


P.S. My main site is Cocoa Evenings. Please enjoy the evenings with cocoa with me over there.

Where to buy art and journaling supplies

where to buy art and journaling supplies in Singapore, crafting and paper-crafting as well

I stay in Singapore, an island-city-state-country located four degrees North of the equator in a region known as Southeast Asia. The climate here is tropical with frequent rain all year round.

I get my supplies from the following places:


ARTERS (Singaporean company, will post within 24 hours, items have arrived in two days, local retailer of Daniel Smith watercolours and Stillmen & Birn sketchbooks)

Jerry’s Artarama (only place where I have found Lukas watercolour but with extremely high shipping costs, has ALL the watercolour brands I know, huge retailer)

Ken Bromley Art Supplies (carries UK-ish art supplies, fair shipping charges, has gummed tape)

Senior Art (in particular, Derivan artist watercolour from Australia, generally fair prices and fair shipping costs to Singapore but their prices go up and down)



Cult Pens (comprehensive selection of pens, from ball point to fountain pens, at a more reasonable price, shipping is very affordable at 10 GBP DHL)

Goulet Pens (responds almost immediately to queries, thorough with fountain pen analysis but will be ever so slightly biased, high shipping costs, have to pay a premium for FedEx)

Jet Pens (has all the schooling pens you will ever need, a knick-knacks kind of retailer, light watercolouring supplies, alright shipping costs)

Penroom on Rakuten Japan (have to wait for them to contact me about the shipping)


Journaling & Paper Crafts

Blitsy (Affordable, good quality clear stamps and stencils, very wide variety, carries Stampers Annonymous cum Tim Holtz Stencils, Bo Bunny Clear Stamps, Docraft Gorjuss Girls products, and more!!!)

Simon Says Stamp (expensive with slow shipping, Paper Market has imported a lot of what they sell)

Studio L2E (very basic stamps, small collection, cutesy style, medium shipping costs, normal speed)


Physical Shops

Art Friend (has above average in-store customer support, inexpensive for basic items like styrofoam, glue, paper, but expensive for branded items such as stamps and stencils, branded watercolours and brushes, has standard washi tapes, found VersaFine Emboss ink there)

Daiso (craft and colour items include plastic palettes, fountain pens, brush pens, notebooks, basic stencils, design scissors and round cutters, brushes, sketch books, only place with ceramic flower watercolour mixing palette, has gummed tape)

Kinokuniya (extremely specialised in books, Moleskine watercolour sketchbooks found here, has Midori Traveller’s Notebooks and Akashiya brush pens)

NBC Stationery & Gifts (out of the way but they have all the Zig Clean Colour Real Brush pens, Midori TN, Japanese store)

Overjoyed (has everything, gives Art Friend a run for their money, extensive Rhodia collection, Schmincke watercolours in box palettes only, good stock of fountain pens and inks, carries Midori, has an online store that I love to use, Rochor MRT, opposite La Salle School of the Arts, has membership)

Paper Market (check Paper Market before searching Amazon or eBay because they are very up-to-date with the imports, expensive as a result of imports, they have Project Life cards, VersaFine, Tim Holtz Distress Inks, Happy Planner, high-end WASHI TAPES, embossing heat tool, etc)

Popular (corner puncher and basic brushes, all the general stuff, student watercolour palettes, basic crafting items, pens and more pens)

Straits Art Co. (across from National Library at Bugis, sells SCHMINCKE, Rembrandt, Holbein Artists, White Knights, etc. pricing is same as shipping from Australia, they respond well on Facebook)

Times Bookstore (specialises in books and writing, planner/diaries, Tombow brush pen duals, Uni pigment pen, etc)

Tokutokuya (another SGD 2 store with fewer outlets, one at Changi City Point, very specialised, has nice Japanese craft materials, lots of washi tapes, good planner/diaries)

Tokyu Hands (EVERYTHING JAPANESE, from $2 to $200 and up, get your Midori Traveller’s Notebooks here, carries a lot of what Goulet Pens sell, such as Pilot Vanishing Point, Platinum Preppy and Platinum Cool Demonstrator, Sailor Extreme Black Ink and Jentle inks, Pilot Iroshizuku inks, Uni Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil, Zig Clean Colour Real Brush Pens, notebooks from Mnemosyne, LIFE, Clairefontaine, C.D. Midori, WASHI TAPES, and MORE! Open at Suntec City, J.E.M)

Urban Write (beautiful collection of large squares of pretty papers, has Tombow brush pen duals, more pens, and general crafting stuff, very accessible)


eBay sellers

dk_global (watercolour mixing palettes, Korean)

painting_material (Meeden metal watercolour paint storage and mixing palette, Schmincke style)

qdsupplies (the art version of Jet Pens)

theartshopskipton (Daler Rowney Mini Travel here)


Amazon (Dr. Ph. Martin Hydrus Liquid Watercolours, Finetec Pearl, Cavallini Rubber Stamps, rubber stamps in general are more affordable on Amazon, the most pocket-friendly way to buy M.Graham Watercolours)


My Reflection

I got all my basics from Urban Write before I went on to specialised items from Art Friend, Paper Market, and Tokyu Hands. I think it is more a matter of accessibility than specifically where to buy what because many products are carried by several retailers at the same price.


My adult-learning journey in watercolour

My Adult-learning Journey in Watercolour. People, videos, and sites that worked for me. Skills, Brushes, Paints

People, videos, and sites that worked for me:


Learn to mix colours by working from a limited palette. I recommend cyan (from Lukas Aquarell), (Quinacridone) Magenta (all the artist grade brands have it), and primary yellow (lemon yellow) because I wanted bright, whimsical, fantasy colours for journaling. Any yellow will do the same magic – yellow, bismuth vandate yellow, aureolin, Winsor yellow).

For card-marking, steer away from Cadmium Yellow because it is too deep and warm to produce the brightest colours.

For scenery, go for Cadmium Yellow because the warmth will give you colours that exist in nature.


Practise mixing colours like practising Chinese characters.

Practise brush strokes like physical exercise. Twist, turn, push, lift, horizontal, vertical, bouncing, swishing left-and-right.

Practise wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, dry-on-wet, dry-on-dry, even wash, gradient wash, galaxy wash, salt, cling wrap, and alcohol like three daily meals.

Practise value-variation by adding water and noticing the pigment-water ratio in the bristles of the brush.

Practise tone by asking, is there more yellow or more blue?

Use different brushes for fun.



Important to have a big flat soft brush and a medium round brush.

paintingwithskill (YouTube), Patrick Ley-Greavs (YouTube), and will give professional tips.



Buy artist grade tube paints with single pigments for brush paintings. You can sell off the whole collection when you are over the hobby. Mix all the other colours.

Buy 18 – 24 colours solid pans, children grade palette, with BRIGHT colours for card-making. Do not buy artist grade paints in fantasy colours. They are similar to Urban Decay Moondust palette for everyday makeup – you will never use it.



Ceramic palette is a dream. Plastic ones give portability. Metal ones are alright.

Many, big, mixing wells are a must.

Wells should have rounded corners.

Palette surface must allow water to spread out instead of bead up. Palette surface should be white.



Jason Skill at paintingwithskill (YouTube) (Jason is a master teacher who knows how to break down watercolouring and build confidence.)

Patrick Ley-Greaves (YouTube) at (Patrick has an admirable painting philosophy – advocating use what you have and do what you want. Simplicity is the key.)


My Reflection

Watercolouring is like makeup – the artist matters more than the tools. If I managed to polish my skills from drugstore palettes, sponge-tip applicators, and no brushes, I can get my skills straight without expensive paints and brushes.

In the world of makeup, the skin is the canvas. This is not true for watercolour. Buying watercolour paper (made from cotton instead of wood pulp) is almost a must.

My first mistake | Beginner Watercolour

Learn from my mistake venturing into the unfamiliar path of art and watercolour. Today, we go through mixing palettes. What is the difference between an artist flat mixing palette and a palette full of wells?

I feel the urge to document the mistakes that I had made while trudging along the unfamiliar path of art because these basic mistakes surprised me. The mistakes surprised me because I had spent days researching but still committed them. Haha! Perhaps many professional artists had forgotten to mention these level zero challenges… perhaps I had not done good enough research… Regardless, I am glad that I had made these mistakes and I want to share them, in part to amuse myself, in part for others who wish to walk this path.


Mistake #1 – Wrong Mixing Palette

Committed: 4 November 2016

I bought a beautiful clear acrylic artist palette  with the thumbhole (below) to mix watercolours primarily because I enjoyed looking at it.


I used the flat plastic palette happily for two days before stumbling upon one professional who explained clearly why I should get a palette with wells.

In the two days, I did not face the problem of water dripping because water evaporates rapidly in my tropical climate. I spritzed water from an inexpensive spray bottle whenever I needed to wet the paint again.

However, I found it slightly difficult to control where individual colours flow on the palette – colours mix on their own (below).


I loved that the palette itself looked like a work of art after use (below). In fact, I managed to “paste” three pieces of sketch paper over the leftover paints to get background prints for my junk journal.


I did not understand the point of getting a palette with weird holes and huge spaces until someone (forgotten the name) articulated to me how to use the spaces and demonstrate it. I thought the spaces were a waste of space. Who would squeeze out so much paint?

No one would squeeze out so much paint but one could use the huge spaces to dilute watercolours to varying degrees so as to lighten the colour, also known as tone.

I moved on to using a round open palette and I started using a closed palette (below) about one month after I made my first mistake of using the flat artist palette.


Lessons Learned

  1. The weird holes and huge spaces are called wells. The wells hold water – the medium for watercolour pigments to flow. Huge spaces are meant for holding a lot of water and for mixing a large mix. One would make a large mix when they want to colour a large space, usually A3 scenes (skies, grounds, seas) and above. One dips a large paintbrush, generally 1 inch and wider, into the large mix. This is termed, giving a wash of colour.
  2. One could let the water evaporate and the remaining dry paint will stay put. Leave it dry for portability or rewet to use the same colour again.
  3. One only needs a tiny bit of paint to wash a large area. Let it flow with the medium – water.
  4. The flat mixing artist palette depicted so often in the hand of Picasso is for oil paints or acrylic paints. Those paints do not flow off the flat palette.
  5. The flat mixing palette with a thumbhole has been romanticised too much.


  1. Don Andrews on Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff gives me a sense of water as a medium.
  2. Jason Skill on Painting With Skill gives the best bite-size teachings on watercolour.
  3. SchaeferArt has one of the best naggings on mixing colours.


I still enjoy looking at the clear artist palette very much because it sets me free. A clear and blank palette stimulates and inspires me because the emptiness means I can do what I want and do it well!

What was your first mistake in watercolour?

My First Progress | Beginner Watercolour

This post will be updated at a later date.

I want to share the teachings from others that have contributed greatly to my progress in watercolour. I think I will not have made good progress without these teachings that I am going to share. I will call them Progress #1, 2, 3, and so on.


I am grateful to have “met” several great teachers on the internet to help me find my way in watercolour. I appreciate having access to a myriad of information on this topic because I went through a lot of ups and downs learning to do my makeup ten years ago. I only felt confident with my skills after about five years of dabbling in cosmetics back then because there were so few reviews and sharing of skills.


Progress #1: Mix your own colours from primary colours.

I am fan of cyan, magenta, and yellow (CMY) as primaries because I love bright finishes. I particularly like the pinks made from magenta.

Lessons Learned

  1. CMY will give a larger spectrum of colours compared to red, blue, and yellow (RBY). It also gives brighter colours. So, it is great for fantasy artists,However, CMY is further away from natural, landscape, scenery. You will take a longer time mixing Nature’s palette from CMY.


Reward, Recharge, Recognition

Tour through my first sketchbook. Silent flip-through. Watercolour journey.

I had completed my first sketchbook and the completion itself is an achievement to the extent it is the reward for my time well spent.

Here it is, a ten-minute long video of nearly one hundred and fifty pages of learning:

I flip through it every once in a while to reference the colours I could mix from cyan magenta yellow primary. I feel recharged in this way. Often, I go back to watch those Youtubers that I had watched while practising in this book and I get inspired again.

I feel like I have to recognise that I have learned as an adult. I have made mistakes and move on better. I love the progress; love the differences between what I started out with and what I ended with on the last few pages.

When was the last time you did something for the first time?