This week I’ve already launched one new series of articles in which I’m going to focus on Design. Today I would like to add one more. My thinking behind it is that each series is dedicated to a certain group of students. This 101 series is obviously focused on those of you who are just starting out in watercolor. Surprisingly, I have never actually put together a series of articles dedicated to beginners. The reason why I’m doing so right now is that because of my videos I’m getting more and more questions about these topics. And at this point in time I have, I think, a good amount of ideas to share in this area. I started from scratch and slowly climbed my way up. I learned a trick or two along the way. The reason for the title of this article, “Reduce your learning curve” is that things can always be done more efficiently as well as less efficiently. I have been doing them both ways. My goal is therefore providing you with my ideas on minimizing the time you spend in the beginner sphere so you can more effectively reach more advanced levels.

Which brings me to the final point, that of your input and feedback. I would like to ask for your questions, I would like your input as to what are you struggling with most. Each of you personally. What is holding you back? What you need to work on but can’t make yourself? What is it that you’d like to overcome or master but can’t find the way?

As always, the list of available articles is going to be updated on the end of this post, so bookmark the page and revisit it periodically. Or you can subscribe to my newsletter and get new articles directly to your inbox each week.

That’s pretty much it for this introduction, please leave your questions, comments, thoughts, struggles in the comment box down below and I’ll be happy to get to work.


Available articles in the 101 series:

You can also display all articles in the series.


  1. Angel May 6, 2017 at 18:26

    Just to add a little more to beginners needs. I agree with your statement ” My goal is therefore providing you with my ideas on minimizing the time you spend in the beginner sphere so you can more effectively reach more advanced levels.”
    i started simple landscapes. My paintings come out pasty. My tree shapes come out like blobs. Brush selection and brush strokes are key but with no experience or correct guidance it becomes frustrating at times.
    How much paint to mix an consistency is also a problem.


  2. Angel May 6, 2017 at 08:13


    Hi, my name is Angel and I just started watercolor 2 months ago. Started watching videos on youtube and copying urban ink and color mostly since I like to draw but no formal background.
    I read a book by Joseph Zbukvik and joined Arts online tutorials. Would be helpful to have examples about how to work paint consistency ( tea milk coffee cream butter) vs paper state (wet moist damp dry). I watched one of your videos on layering color. Did not understand how you decided about colors. I do not understand how to pick colors. Well, overall I am a beginner and any guidance you can provide is more than welcome.
    Thankyou for offering help to those of us searching for ways to learn watercolor and give chanel energy with the purpose of creating our own art.
    Much success to you.

    1. Daniel Novotny May 6, 2017 at 18:52

      Hi Angel,

      thank you for your input. Those are very valuable suggestions and I will make sure to include them on my to-do list.


  3. Pavel Ožďáni April 23, 2017 at 07:59

    Dobrý deň Daniel . Blahoželám pozeral som obr z Fabriana . Daniel prosím Vás kde sa Vám dajú poslať obrázky pokiaľ by som chcel a Vy by ste boli ochotný konzultovať prácu.
    Prajem Vám požehnanú nedeľu. pavel.

    1. Daniel Novotny April 25, 2017 at 09:20

      Dakujem Vam pan Pavel. Na e-mail Vam budem odpovedat akonahle sa mi uvolni rozvrh.
      Pekny den Vam prajem.

  4. Sheri April 1, 2017 at 12:10

    Hi Daniel, you asked what we’re struggling with most? I find myself lost in a strange space between drawing and painting. My background is in graphic design, consequently drawing skills have been developed. I struggle to get the energy and vitality that is in my drawings into my paintings. I’d like to paint with expressive, fluid, mark-making. and work with the flow of the paint. I like to work intuitively, take chances and experiment. However, it’s proving difficult to let go with paint, get beyond self, in the same way that I can with charcoal and paper. It’s the transition from drawing to painting that’s a struggle. Can you please offer advice for how to move on from this odd predicament?

    1. Daniel Novotny April 2, 2017 at 09:19

      Hi Sheri,

      thank you for sharing your concerns. I perfectly understand what you mean. Especially if you’ve been doing commercial work professionally, you are removing expression of self from your work. Fortunately, there is a way to get into the right mindset. In one word, Design, or composition, is your answer. A few pointers that should help you get moving:

      1. A book entitled “NOTAN” may help you shift your thinking from object to shapes:
      2. My series on “Design” should be of help too (I have just launched it but new articles are coming soon), because if you establish a clear design pattern before you start painting, you are free to paint as expressively as you want, and freely as you can. Design pattern is the “big picture”, once you know where you’re going with your painting, you can freely express yourself through your brushwork, etc.
      3. Consider doing value studies beforehand. Plan your shapes and values – light, middle, dark, even if you can’t think differently than in terms of objects yet. This will help you to have control over the result. Once you get comfortable with it, lose the lines. Start painting on a clean sheet of paper. Don’t mind the procedure, paint directly or try layered approach, whatever makes it easier. Focus on shapes, paint one shape next to another. Please take a look at this video: Don’t draw – paint.
      4. Please take a look at Frank Webb’s books and a book by Edgar Whitney (search on my site, I’ve got reviews of all of them). Tomorrow I have a review coming of the third book by Frank Webb, which is amazing and I highly recommend you take a look at it.

      Hope some of this will be of use to you. The Design series should be very helpful to you and I’ll get right on it. Next article should be up during the following week. Please let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to help.


      1. Sheri April 3, 2017 at 09:10

        Thanks for your helpful advice Daniel. Yes, I’ve had a long career with commercial graphics where I’ve been focused on meeting a clients brief and it makes sense that I need to shift into a different mindset for painting. I’ve ordered the Notan book and Watercolor Energies by Frank Webb and look forward to gathering further insights from them. Interesting observation you made about moving my thinking from objects to shapes, think this may be a key to moving forward. Also pattern, which I don’t yet fully understand in relation to painting. I’ll look out for updates to the Design series. I’ve been doing value studies and prepatory drawings, however, I’ll try to lose the lines and experiment with shapes. Thanks for taking time to give me these insights.

  5. Pavel Ožďáni March 14, 2017 at 09:50

    Daniel bude aj nejaká užitočná kniha pre akvarel v Slovenčine ktorú pripravujete ? Vždy sa teším na Vaše zverejnené užitočné rady. Nejde o biznis, ale hľadanie zaujímavých ciest v tejto prekrásnej technike maľby. Prajem všetko dobré.

    1. Daniel Novotny March 14, 2017 at 11:43

      Dobrý deň Pavel, zatiaľ sa nechystám vydávať vlastnú knihu ale nebránim sa tomu nápadu. Uvidíme ako sa bude vyvíjať môj blog v nasledujúcich mesiacoch a potom je možné, že sa na takýto projekt podujmem.
      Ako vždy ďakujem za slová podpory, veľmi si to cením. Všetko dobré aj Vám.


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