Lophophora williamsii (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

The Easy Way to Paint Watercolors

Is there really an easy way to paint watercolors? Yes, if you go straight to painting and don't spend time laboriously drawing the image first. I learned the technique described here from San Diego watercolor artist Diane Palley McDonald.

The easy way to paint watercolors Step by step:

  1. Select a photo that inspires you.
  2. Print the photo on 8-1/2 by 11 paper.
  3. Put the photo on a light table or against a sunny window, and tape a piece of watercolor paper over it.
  4. Using a pencil, lightly trace the photo's main lines onto the watercolor paper.
  5. Tape the edges of the watercolor paper to a thick rectangle of cardboard.
  6. Mask any bright white lines. (optional)
  7. Have fun painting!

This technique is a bit like painting a coloring book page. The worst that can happen is you’ll have to start over, but the hard part of any painting is the drawing, so you can skip that part. I sometimes do two or three paintings of a subject before I'm satisfied.The easy way to paint watercolors

The easy way to paint watercolors

The easy way to paint watercolors

The easy way to paint watercolors

The easy way to paint watercolors


Here's why I prefer watercolors to any other art medium, except possibly photography: When you dilute watercolor paint with liquid light (clear water), you can create an image that’s translucent. Because the white of the paper shines through, the result suggests a sunlit moment.

Related Info:
Debra's art supplies

Go to "Debra's Art Supplies" to find out which watercolor paints and brushes I prefer.


Also enjoy this YouTube video in which I share my painting method.

See more paintings from past succulent watercolor calendars still available on Zazzle. Many are are on my Succulent Watercolors Pinterest page as well.


Books by Debra Lee Baldwin

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  1. Stacy Koehn on September 26, 2019 at 8:43 am

    For those of us with no talent for painting – especially watercolor which is so challenging – try the “Waterlogged” app designed for iPhone photos – it’s a lot of fun – very easy to use – and no fail.

  2. Liz P on September 26, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Your paintings are very nice. You tend to paint in mid-tones. You could give the painting more umph by amping up your lights and darks . See the photos above and your paintings of them. If you just strengthen your lights and darks, they will have the same impact as the photos.

  3. Mary Christine Frambach on September 26, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    Wow! I didn’t realize that you do watercolors too!
    I knew there was something else that drew me to your succulent page❤️I also live succulents and watercolor painting !

  4. Tina Cremer on October 20, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Debra,
    You are so talented in both media, I can not choose. I must say, when I saw the painting of the Echeveria ‘Sahara’,
    it took my breath away. Fantastic!

    Now that I am semi-retired a few moths of the year, I have begun to paint again. It’s been over 10 years and I am re-learning the same things I knew then. Humbling.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Tina — I value your opinion highly, so it’s interesting to me that of all 12 paintings, the echeveria is the only one on hot-pressed watercolor paper. I wasn’t sure I liked the smoother look. But I have nearly a whole pad of it, so thanks to you, now I’m going to use it!

  5. Seny Serafica on October 20, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    I’m not good in painting ! So far I’m just enjoying and admiring Debra lee Baldwin paintings , it’s so beautiful and amazing!!!

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