7 Best Watercolor Courses for Beginner Painters

These are 7 of the best online watercolor courses. Grab a brush. start mixing, and let your creativity flow!

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#1 Watercolor Course for 2021:
Watercolor in the woods: a beginners guide to painting the natural world (Skillshare)

If you're interested in painting the natural world, Rosalie's online class is the best you'll find on the Internet. And, you can take this online watercolor class at no cost whatsoever if you take advantage of Skillshare's 30-day free trial

Course Instructor(s)

Rosalie Haizlett

Course Duration

41 minutes (13 lessons)

Platform Rating

4.2 / 5

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Best Watercolor Courses

Having a creative output is tantamount to living an enjoyable life. In modern working environments, we spend hundreds upon hundreds of hours behind the computer, and we tend to forget the importance of creative expression.

Not only does creative expressions help clear our minds, but painting also promotes stress relief, memory capabilities, and emotional growth, and can even help slow aging and be used as a treatment against Alzheimer’s disease. Painting has a kind of “healing power” that is difficult to describe unless you have felt it yourself.

During the digital age, people tend to drift away from fine arts such as watercolor painting. It’s only natural – as our lives get busier and everything gets digitized – we forget these types of ancient practices.

However, in our digital age, having a creative outlet is, in fact, more important than ever. Whether that’s singing, graphic design, or anything in between – you should try to find a creative outlet that fits your personality.

So, why should you choose watercolors in particular?

For one, watercolor painting has an almost meditative effect on the human spirit. Mixing the colors, layering, and gently brushing your way towards your own piece of art – it’s all very zen-like.

Not only that, but watercolors are also non-toxic and easy to clean if you ever run into any spills. Compared to oils – that is. And, just as importantly, watercolors allow for a wide range of art styles. Whether you’re looking to paint realism, abstract art, surrealism, or anything in between – watercolors have got your back.

If you’d like to learn to paint with watercolors online, considering enrolling in Skillshare’s free 30-day trial. Most of the top-rated online watercolor courses on this list are hosted on Skillshare, and all of them come included with the same trial.

Without further ado, these are our picks for the best online watercolor courses.

Best Watercolor Courses

Best Overall: Watercolor in the woods: a beginners guide to painting the natural world (Skillshare)

Special offers from Skillshare:
30% off Annual Membership
30-day free trial
Pros

  • Suitable for both beginners and intermediate-level painters
  • Gives an overview of the step-by-step process of watercoloring
  • Includes a PDF booklet on specific recommended watercolor equipment

Cons

  • Leaves us wanting a follow-up course

A beginner-friendly watercolor course focused on painting the beauty of nature.

Our pick for the best overall watercolor course has got to be “Watercolor in the woods: a beginner’s guide to painting the natural world“. This is a highly engaging Skillshare class led by Rosalie Haizlett, an illustrator specializing in painting the natural world around us with watercolors. She prefers painting outdoors, and she regularly makes trips to beautiful locations around the world to paint on-site.

To give you a visual example of the painting style she teaches, take a look at Rosalie’s original paintings on her website. She has a one-of-a-kind painting style, and her work speaks for itself. 

What’s even more impressive – she is more than capable of passing her unique techniques on to her students. Just have a look at some of the beautiful class projects from students that finished this online course:

These students sparked their creative spirit – and so can you.

Here are some of the reasons why this online course is worthy of praise:

  • It’s very beginner-friendly. Yet, despite this, the way Rosalie presents her painting tips make it a great resource for intermediate-level watercolorists as well.
  • It’s an easy-to-follow course with a chronological structure. This gives the attendees a clear view of the entire process of watercolor painting.
  • Rosalie places high importance on teaching proper layering and mixing techniques. These are the two essentials that will instantly improve your paintings.

So, what does the short and sweet 41-minute course curriculum look like?

Well, it starts off with the students picking their inspiration. Those that would like to stay with the theme of the course might want to pick inspiration directly from nature. A tree, plant, mushroom – or animal.

After this, students learn about the importance of a good pencil-draft and receive some tips on effective drafting and drawing. All good artists know about the importance of drawing in the artistic process.

Once students are done with the drawing draft, the “real action” starts. Concisely and clearly, Rosalie shows students how to become friends with the brush. She teaches students how to layer watercolors, add vibrancy, refine small details, and add finishing touches in the end.

If you’re interested in painting the natural world, Rosalie’s online class is the best you’ll find on the Internet. And, you can take this online watercolor class at no cost whatsoever if you take advantage of Skillshare’s 30-day free trial.

Best Crash Course: Anyone Can Watercolor: The Basics For Creating Magical Pieces (Skillshare)

Best Crash Course: Anyone Can Watercolor: The Basics For Creating Magical Pieces (Skillshare)​
Special offers from Skillshare:
30% off Annual Membership
30-day free trial
Pros

  • The instructor has an encouraging and inspiring style of teaching
  • Despite the short duration, the course covers various watercolor techniques
  • Covers some rather unique painting methods

Cons

  • Relatively short at 24 minutes of course videos

A fun, short, and lighthearted introduction to basic watercolor techniques.

The number two spot on the “best watercolor courses” ranking list would have to go to “Anyone Can Watercolor: The Basics for Creating Magical Pieces” on Skillshare. This online tutorial is led by Yasmina Creates who is a self-taught mixed media, ink and watercolor artist.

Yasmina has quite the following on YouTube, thanks to her inspiring teaching style. She has dozens of videos of her painting whatever comes to her mind – from watermelons all the way to baby chickens. And, she does it all with her unique style.

Here’s one such video tutorial from her where she teaches painting a galaxy with watercolors:

Play Video

She also brings this type of enthusiasm and passion over to her online classes, and “Anyone Can Watercolor: The Basics for Creating Magical Pieces” is no exception. It’s her most popular online painting class for good reason.

As an instructor, Yasmina is engaging and clearly passionate about sharing her accumulated skills. Some students have even said that they felt as if the instructor is personally encouraging them every step of the way.

Now, how about the syllabus itself?

It’s short and sweet. At 24 minutes of length, Yasmina has really managed to pack as many useful tips into a small package as possible. The syllabus is rather technical in nature, designed to help you efficiently put your ideas on canvas.

Since this is a technical course, I would also advise on having clear goals mapped out. If you have clearly formulated goals, you’ll be able to put her techniques into practice more easily. Especially as she teaches some rather unique and unconventional techniques that go beyond brush strokes and drawing.

If you’re looking for a crash course with some special watercolor tricks, Yasmina’s course might just be the best pick for you.

Best for Digital Watercolor: Botanical Scenes in Photoshop: Incorporating Watercolor Into Digital Design (Skillshare)

Best for Digital Watercolor: Botanical Scenes in Photoshop: Incorporating Watercolor Into Digital Design (Skillshare)
Special offers from Skillshare:
30% off Annual Membership
30-day free trial
Pros

  • The best beginner-friendly resource for choosing the right painting supplies
  • In addition to watercolor, the class teaches how to paint with gouache

Cons

  • The course could benefit from including more watercolor and gouache techniques

A unique watercolor class that teaches incorporating hand-painted watercolor paintings into Photoshop.

This is the online watercolor course I never knew I needed. “Botanical Scenes in Photoshop: Incorporating Watercolor Into Digital Design” on Skillshare is the most unique class on this list, and it combines two of my favorite creative outlets – painting and graphic design.

This class is led by Silvia Ospina – a professional graphic designer and artist who has worked with numerous international fashion brands such as Zara and Mango. When you see Silvia’s artistic style, you’ll quickly see why she has grabbed the attention of these high street brands.

Take a look at the watercolor prints she did for Mango. Not only is her style totally unique to her, but in textile form the vibrant colors appear to pop out even more. She is an expert at floral patterns, and that’s exactly what she’ll be teaching her students in this class.

Her technique involves combining traditional watercolor paintings with Adobe Photoshop, and there’s no one better than Silvia at doing this.

In her online course, Silvia teaches her students both sides of the coin:

  • How to hand-paint botanical scenes with watercolors
  • How to digitize these paintings using Adobe Photoshop

If you’re interested in graphic design, fashion design, or textile design, then Silvia’s course is an absolute must for you. There’s no one out there who tackles watercolor painting from the same angle she does. And, you might just end up working as a fashion designer while you’re at it.

Excellent for Daily Practice: Watercolor Workout: 14 days of drills to advance your skills (Skillshare)

Special offers from Skillshare:
30% off Annual Membership
30-day free trial
Pros

  • Well-structured syllabus
  • The "one painting drill per day" is very helpful for setting up a long-lasting painting routine

Cons

  • The course is a bit too technical and rigid for total beginners

A watercolor painting boot camp with 14 days worth of daily practice drills.

Moving on, we have the online course “Watercolor Workout: 14 days of drills to advance your skills” on Skillshare. This class is led by Jen Dixon, a mixed media abstract and figurative painter with 35+ years of artistry behind her back.

To check out the type of painting style you’ll be learning in this class, take a look at Jen’s portfolio on her website. She has many excellent abstract pieces on display, and in my opinion, one of her greatest strength is her ability to color-match.

In her online class, Jen decided to go with the format of a boot camp. In 14 days, you will be asked to perform a specific painting “drill” every single day. You will soon discover that doing a simple painting exercise every day is tremendously fun and relaxing. And, it’ll get you into the habit of practicing daily. A habit that’ll benefit you tremendously in the long run.

So, what are these daily boot camp drills about?

Here are some quick examples:

  • applying the correct pressure on your paintbrush;
  • optimizing your hand movements for fluidity and confidence;
  • learning compound marks and compound curves;
  • painting nested circles and big directional changes.

As you can see, Jen’s lessons largely focus on watercolor painting technique. Hand movements are a major component of her class, and you can expect your hands to get tired after completing these daily lessons. And, as a result – you can also expect your hands to become seasoned – like a professional painter.

Whether you are already a seasoned painter or new to this hobby, this course has tons of material to digest. All in all, it’s another one of my absolute favorite watercolor painting classes. Especially when it comes to learning watercolor techniques and practicing hand movements. For these purposes, it’s the best online watercolor class there is.

To show you what some of the graduates of this class are capable of, take a look at some these class projects:

Good for Beginner Watercolorists: Real Winners Watercolor Gives the Essential Basics (Udemy)

Time-limited offers from Udemy:
24-hour sale – Courses from $14.99 (expires 30 Sep)
Pros

  • One of the best courses for people starting to learn with zero experience
  • The instructor has a playful and humorous manner of teaching

Cons

  • Lessons focused on the very basics of painting, not suitable for intermediate or advanced students

A playful yet practical course on the basics of watercolor painting.

To successfully start learning a new craft, it is sometimes best to first unlearn everything you previously knew about the skill in question. This goes especially for creative pursuits such as painting.

Children are, in general, overwhelmingly creative. Why? Simply because shame and self-criticism are almost extraterrestrial concepts to them. This beginner-friendly watercolor painting course by Udemy has focused on reawakening the childlike creativity in adults (note that the title of the course has recently changed – it used to be more clearly related to the focus of overcoming barriers to getting started with painting).

The course “Real Winner Beginners Watercolor” is led by Nicola Blakemore, an experienced watercolor artist with a popular YouTube channelIn this course, Nikola will teach attendees to first master the very basics, such as holding the brush and mixing the colors.

As the students get reacquainted with the very cornerstones of painting, they will learn some basic shading and shape creation techniques. Once students have grasped the very basics, the lessons get more practical, with the students painting more complex subjects such as three-dimensional objects.

All in all, for people with no understanding of art basics, this is a great course for developing confidence. By repetition of simple techniques taught in the class, one will start building momentum in no time. You never know where this momentum might lead you. You might become great at this hobby or, who knows, maybe even become the new Van Gogh.

Learn Contemporary Watercoloring Styles: Modern watercolor techniques: explore skills to create on-trend paintings (Skillshare)

Special offers from Skillshare:
30% off Annual Membership
30-day free trial
Pros

  • Teaches modern and trendy watercolor techniques
  • Great for all experience levels
  • Includes numerous extra resources

Cons

  • Leaves us wanting a follow-up course

An engaging and inspirational class on contemporary watercolor techniques.

Next up, we have “Modern watercolor techniques: explore skills to create on-trend paintings“. This online class is led by Cat Coquillette, a location-independent artist with a passion for both teaching and creating contemporary art. And, her work has been featured by celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian, Hilary Duff, and Jessica Simpson.

You can check out Cat’s watercolor portfolio on her website to get a better understanding of her capabilities as an artist. She is truly a remarkable artist with a wide range of skills in her repertoire. And, in her online watercolor class, Cat will reveal her unique methods to her students.

In terms of complexity, this is an all-levels course that has tangible benefits for both total beginners and intermediate-level learners.

Just have a look at the wonderful creations of students who finished this online course:

For beginners, all the key components of a good watercolor course are included. You’ll learn about basic motif sketching, brush control, and mixing the colors. As a bonus, the unique methodology of Coquillette ensures that your style will be instantly distinctive. With little practice, you can start impressing your friends with your unique style. 

For intermediate-level learners, the course contains several unique takes and methods of watercolor painting. Lectures such as her lessons on ombre gradient washes and watercolor blooms will be useful to experienced artists just as much as novice artists.

All in all, this is one of the most unique and fun online watercolor classes available and one of the best all-around packages. 

Good Foundational Course: Foundations for mastering watercolor painting (Udemy)

A Great foundational Course: Foundations for mastering watercolor painting (Udemy)
Time-limited offers from Udemy:
24-hour sale – Courses from $14.99 (expires 30 Sep)
Pros

  • A superb course for learning watercolor painting theory in depth
  • Informative resource on watercolor painting supplies

Cons

  • Does not cover many specific painting techniques

A detailed masterclass on watercolor painting theory.

Finally, we’ll take a look at “Foundations for mastering watercolor painting” on Udemy. This online watercolor class is led by Jill Poyerd, a professional artist and fine arts educator. Once again, she is a watercolor instructor with quite the following on her YouTube channel.

I continue with the theme of online watercolor classes focused on materials. This Udemy course is a focused masterclass on the science behind watercolor painting. Attendees will be looking in-depth to how various materials interact. Of all the online watercolor classes I have reviewed, this is by far the most scientific of the bunch. 

Lessons on the properties of water? History of watercolor? I understand that one might find these topics irrelevant. However, trust me, going into detail is what separates the Sunday doodler from a gallery-artist.

The course is listed as all-levels. So, for beginners looking to paint semi-professionally, these lessons will provide an impressive foundation. For intermediate-level painters, this is one of the watercolor classes that could take your skills to the next level. However, just know you will not learn techniques in this course. It is a class almost solely dedicated to the theory behind the process.

All in all, as far as theoretical watercolor classes go, this is a very solid course. It’s a good choice both for beginners and intermediate-level learners.