• Shayda Campbell

Timed Watercolor Paintings

We are back in the studio with the newest member of our family and team, Sully! Our first week back, it felt appropriate to start with a watercolor warm-up. Any time you are doing a practice exercise, it removes all the stress - you aren't doing a larger painting and you can let go of any anxiety. The warm-up that I'm doing in this video is a timed challenge.


To watch the real time painting, see the video here:

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You can paint along with me, or set a timer and come up with your own design to challenge yourself. I have my paints mixed up and my five minute countdown set for my first run. I think I can paint some watercolor roses quickly so I am beginning with them. The fun of having something timed is that you will only get it so right and you have to accept the mistakes as you go along.


Using a large pointed round brush allows me to hold a lot of paint so I can apply more pressure for larger petals and use the tip for the outer petals. One minute in I have two roses and am starting on some green leaves. Using messy brushstrokes, I am just hinting at leaves and flowers for a very natural look. A quick painting is perfect for practicing loose watercolors.


I want the leaves to border the flowers for a nice composition. With 3 minutes left, I am adding a few more leaves and starting to add a darker peach to the roses. As they dry, I can add more detail with wet on dry. One is still a little wet so I am expanding outwards to add smaller florals with three little buds. The green is looking a little flat so with a minute and a half remaining, I am adding a second green.


With less than a minute to go I want to add another color still. Using a darker orange, I'm adding one more floral shape amongst the leaves. These and a few more leaves add a little more movement to the piece. And that was 5 minutes!


My natural tendency is to keep tweaking and working on the piece. Having used the timer though, I am left with very loose brushstrokes that really highlight the watercolors. You can see the variations in color and transparency that comes with loose watercolors. Instead of making any adjustments, I am going to appreciate the practice and try out a 10 minute painting!


In the 10 minute piece, I keep my florals even looser. I don't think you can quite identify what the flowers are, but it's floral and pretty and whimsical. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm working under a time limit, and to not tweak the flowers, but continue adding more to the painting. Despite having more time, I am filling a larger space and have more variety in the florals.


This one ended up being a silly, messy, giant floral. That's what is fun about it, and that's what is beautiful about it in the end. I rushed to fill in the gaps and add more leaves in the last couple of minutes, but I had fun! It was messy, and crazy, and I wish I had layered more on some of the larger florals. But, it was fun to do.


I encourage you to not look at the timer as you paint! Paint along, or try it with your own color palette and your own florals, or any subject or design. You don't have to worry about the time, about how it turns out, or what you achieve. You can be happy with your practice and move along. Don't worry about it being a "finished painting"; just have fun!

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