Easy Watercolor Paintings for Art Journaling Beginners

Does watercolor painting intimidate you but you still want to explore its possibilities?

I’ve been there. Actually, these paints scare the hell out of me sometimes.

However, I’m certain you and I can make wonderful watercolor art journal pages with a simple beginner’s approach.

That’s why today, I’m sharing ideas for easy watercolor paintings for beginners.

After you’ve done these mini-tutorials, you’ll be amazed at how watercolor painting can be fun and I’m sure you’ll discover how lovely it is to use watercolors.

To satisfy your curiosity right away, this is what we’re going to paint today:

1. Watercolors and geometry

2. Watercolor circles/ovals

3. Watercolor cactus

4. Watercolor galaxy

5. Watercolor + doodles


beginner art journal starter kit

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Watercolor painting supplies

art journal supplies paintbrushes

If you’re wondering what is needed for watercolor painting, here’s a simple list of watercolor art supplies you’ll need to get started.

1. Watercolor paper or an art journal with watercolor paper inside

2. Paintbrushes

4. Paper towel

5. Watercolor paints

Basic watercolor techniques

There are 3 basic watercolor painting techniques that we’ll use for these paintings:

  1. Wet on wet. Basically, you put some water on the paper first and then add more watercolor and water on top of that.
  2. Wet on dry. You start painting with a wet brush soaked in watercolor and go over the dry paper.
  3. Glazing. Paint the first layer of watercolor, and then you let it dry. You add another layer and you’ll notice that the first layer is visible beneath

Easy watercolor paintings for beginners

We’re going to make 5 amazing and oh-so-easy watercolor paintings and most of them are going to be more abstract than specific objects.

I figure it’s a lot easier to start with abstract paintings than immediately set off to painting portraits or complex still life. Because this would scare the hell out of you and I’d see you running away, cartoon-style (clumsily running, hands in the air, frantically yelling: noooo!)

I want you to feel confident and believe that you can paint these, so we’re keeping it as simple as we can.

Let’s do this.

1. Easy watercolor geometric shapes

The technique you’ll be practicing: glazing.

Supplies you need: watercolors, a brush.

We’re going to paint some shapes, leave them to dry and then paint more shapes on top of that.

This way, the shapes underneath will be visible, too.

For this purpose, I’m painting squares, rectangles, and thick lines but you can add triangles and circles, too.

Watercolors are water-soluble so they react to it always. Just have in mind that if you dance around with your brush too much on the layer beneath, you’ll eventually pick up the paint again. Although this can turn out great if you’re into blending and having a distressed look.

Step 1.

First, paint shapes with any color you like. I chose different colors because I want my page to be colorful. Let dry.

Step 2.

After the first layer is dry, add more shapes over the first layer. Just play around, overlap the shapes, and if you pick up some paint off the first layer, don’t worry. Then it’ll just be a loose painting. Lovely!

step one watercolor shapes in an art journal

Step 3.

After these layers are dry, I added some thick lines, horizontal first, then vertical.

step two watercolor lines
easy watercolor painting with shapes and lines

You can play with color here. For example, I chose the yellow paint for my vertical lines to brighten up the page a bit.

Now, I can use this page as a background, or just journal on it with a white pen or marker.

You can even take a photo of the page, crop it to fit the screen and use it as a background image for an Instagram post, or print it on a paper and use it as paper scraps for your art journal.

2. Soft watercolor circles

I must say that these aren’t really circles, more like oval shapes. The choice is yours, it works great with circles or ovals.

The technique you’ll practice: just simple shape painting, no blending or glazing

Supplies you’ll need: watercolor, larger brush, a pen for doodling

Step 1.

Decide which colors you’re going to use. I love the idea of only one or two colors with different tones. For me, it was blue and pink.

Step 2.

Dip the brush into the water, pick up some paint and just paint the round shapes like in the photo below. Add more water or paint if you feel there’s not enough.

However, don’t worry if they turn out imperfect, that’s even better!

Step 3.

finished easy watercolor painting of shapes and doodles

Take the pen and start doodling inside the shapes.

You can doodle trees, flowers, more shapes, abstract doodles, dots, words, whatever comes naturally to you.

You might turn these shapes into short messages for yourself.

There’s really no limitations to what you can do here. Enjoy!

3. Watercolor cactus

The technique you’ll be practicing: soft blending (wet on wet)

Supplies you need: watercolor paint, all shades of green you have, plus something pinkish for the flower + brush in two sizes, larger one for the cactus and a tiny one for the details.

Step 1.

Draw a shape for the cactus lightly with a pencil, just so you know where’s the painting area.

Don’t forget the pot at the bottom.

sketch a cactus in an art journal

Step 2.

Take the larger brush and put water in the cactus shape. Like you’re painting it with water. Cover the whole cactus.

paint the cactus with water only

Step 3.

Start adding the lightest green you have. Paint the most of the cactus but just leave some white spaces on one side, left or right. That’s for the highlights.

painting the cactus with light green watercolor

Step 4.

While the painting is still wet, start adding a darker green, especially on the edges.

painting shadows on the watercolor cactus

You don’t need too much water now if the cactus is still wet, just add color with a slightly wet brush. Play with it, the less perfect it is, the more dreamy and unique it will look.

Step 5.

If you have an even darker green or dark blue, continue adding it on the edges on the side opposite of the highlights (because these parts would normally be in the shadow).

Step 6.

Now, we’re going to add some lines, thorns, and flowers on top.

Take the darker green, a small brush and draw horizontal lines on the cactus and its “hands”.

adding lines on the cactus with a brush

Then, draw small cactus thorns randomly on the lines. I just draw the letter V for this.

watercolor cactus with thorns

Step 7.

Let’s paint flowers on the top. I chose light pink, dark pink and yellow for the pistil.

Do this with wet on wet technique again.

First, paint the flower with light pink. The shape doesn’t matter, make it just flower-like and that’ll be great.

Secondly, add a darker tone in the middle and when this is a bit dry, add some yellow for the pistil.

finished watercolor painting of a cactus

However the paint blends, it’ll look wonderful.

You can color the pot any color you want. Put a lighter layer first and then add darker areas around the edges. And that’s it.

4. Watercolor galaxy

How amazing are those images of galaxies? I love looking at them and I love painting them, especially with watercolor.

The technique you’ll practice: soft blending (wet on wet).

The supplies you’ll need: a pencil, brush, white acrylic paint, an old toothbrush, watercolors in different colors like pink, blue, purple, yellow and black.

Step 1.

Lightly draw a circle in your art journal. Take the brush and wet the whole circle (like we did with the cactus).

Step 2.

Start painting with pink and paint the whole circle without worrying about where the paint will go.

watercolor circle in an art journal

While it’s still wet, add darker pink or purple and start painting from the edges. Use your brush here to blend the paint with the previous layer. Just don’t cover the whole circle with darker tones.

Step 3.

Choose darker blue or black and continue adding paint on the edges and add a bit towards the center, too. For more interest, add some yellow in the middle.

a galaxy painting in an art journal
watercolor galaxy painting in an art journal

Play around and don’t try making it perfect. The paint itself is going to flow and blend nicely.

If you feel the paint is dry, try adding a bit of water with your brush.

Step 4.

After that, take the toothbrush and put some white acrylic paint on it.

Then, go with your finger over the hair on the brush and splatter the paint over the circle.

Do this more in some areas, and less in others. These are supposed to be stars.

finished galaxy painting with stars

I think I screwed mine. Some big blobs of acrylic paint ended up in my galaxy. But, hey, I shouldn’t care, right? Let’s celebrate imperfection.

You can add stars with a white pen or marker, too.

5. Watercolor + doodles

The techniques you’ll practice: glazing.

Supplies you need: watercolors, brush, white or black pen/marker.

We’re making an abstract painting consisting of just a few shapes and some doodling inside them.

I decided to go with only one color but different shades. Blue was my first choice.

Step 1.

Pick the lightest shade of the color you’ve chosen and paint a few irregular shapes, imagining a bouquet. Let dry.

blue watercolor shapes in an art journal

Step 2.

Paint as many shapes as you want to on top of each other with different shades.

blue watercolor painting in an art journal

I suggest you do this in threes which means to paint 3 shapes with each shade of watercolor. Let dry.

Step 3.

Now it’s time for doodling. Take the pen or marker that you’ve prepared and just draw lines inside each shape. Play around and have fun.

Be careful where the shapes overlap.

I would do this with a white marker rather than with a black pen, and I also used a gold marker because I love how it makes the doodles more sophisticated.

finished watercolor painting with doodles

If you choose darker colors for the shapes, try a white/gold pen for doodling, but if you paint the shapes with lighter tones, then the black pen would be effective.

Did these easy watercolor paintings help you?

I sure hope they did. I know how it feels when you badly want to do something in your art journal but still need some guidance and practice.

That’s why I made these mini-tutorials, to show you that, even if you’re only a beginner, you can paint with watercolor and still be happy with it.

Painting with watercolors is enjoyable and I love the looseness and the softness it delivers.

Every skill needs practice, so don’t neglect your watercolor stash and I promise you that, after practicing, you’ll get better and better at it.


beginner art journal starter kit


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Do you like these easy watercolor paintings? Save them for later, pin them to your favorite Pinterest board.

easy watercolor paintings for beginners
easy watercolor paintings for beginners