30+ Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

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 30+ watercolor painting ideas below.


In need of something to paint? We’ve got 30+ 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.


Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

Stock Photos from Ekaterina Iatcenko /Shutterstock

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

  • Experiment! Try different colors and test out a variety of watercolor painting techniques.
  • Washes that resemble the sky—try painting the sunset with the wet-on-wet approach.
  • The starry night sky. Try preserving your white paper with masking fluid.
  • Mountains or hills.
  • Put your spin on the iconic rainbow.
  • A decorative pattern. Make sure you start easy and work up to more complex motifs.
  • A single piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange. To make your composition more interesting, try slicing it in half.
  • A daisy or a tulip.
  • Your favorite Disney or video game character.
  • A tranquil lake scene or a beach—bonus if you include a boat, animal, or beach umbrella.
  • A ladybug on a leaf.
  • Your favorite pairs of shoes.
  • An aerial view you’d see from an airplane.
  • An interesting tree you saw on a recent hike.
  • Your morning cup of tea or coffee. Use the fluidity of the watercolor to capture the steam coming off the hot beverage.
  • Balloons and confetti. Learn how to make vibrant hues with the pigment.
  • A fluffy cat or dog using smudgy watercolor washes.


Next: More Watercolor Painting Ideas

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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