Composition & Design For Watercolor Painting

Color is an aspect of painting that can take a lifetime of study to really understand.  This section is meant to introduce you to the various aspects of color and simple ways to explore color schemes, color choices and color combinations for your paintings.

There are 25 lessons included in this section organized by topic and presented in to help build a strong foundation in the basics of color.  It’s a good idea to start with the Characteristics of Color and work through the Color Wheel lessons, then Color Schemes and then the experiments with Primary Triads.  Once you have worked through all the lessons, you will have a solid base of color knowledge to build on.

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Composition Basics

Tonal Value Thumbnail Sketch

Basic Value Composition

Value has an important role in helping to create strong, dynamic compositions. Taking the time to plan your painting using Value Composition Studies is far more likely to produce a successful painting.

These studies are usually small and are often called Value Thumbnail Sketches. The concept is easy to understand, but it requires a shift in thinking and a commitment to the process to really make it work

This group of lessons will introduce you to the ideas behind Value Composition and show a simple process for getting started.


basic watercolor color wheel with neutral colors

Composing The Picture Plane


The method and process offered here is easy. The mental challenge is not.

We are literal beings. The impluse to begin with subject is strong and is also our ‘safe’ place, so we go there even when trying not to.

Do your best to give in to the method and explore. Repeat the process until subjects start to emerge from the abstract.