Quick 20 minute watercolor demo of a snow scene for beginners

We will use just 3 brushes and 3 colors.

How to improve your watercolors

The best way to improve your watercolor painting is to paint often. And the best way to paint often is to do 20 minute watercolor sketches or scribbles.

In reality what most watercolor beginners and amateurs do is wait until the weekend when they have some time and then do one big painting. And sometimes the thought of doing a big painting puts them off and so they don’t even try. But if you do try and it goes wrong then you really feel like you wasted your time and effort. And if you continue in this way then you’ll never be good at painting because the results will take so long to come that you’ll probably give up.

Sketching versus painting

So instead of doing a big painting do a quick 20 minute sketch. And you’ll suddenly find you have the time. You can either get up early in the morning before everybody wakes up (it’s a perfect way to start the day as you’ll feel like you made something beautiful) or in the evening when you feel relaxed (what more satisfying way to spend an evening than making something beautiful before you go to sleep).

Boldness versus carefulness

The other benefit of sketching over painting is that it forces you to paint in a looser and bolder manner and this will massively improve your skills and your paintings.

It takes time and consistency

So you won’t like this news at the moment but the truth is it takes time and consistency to get better. You really won’t experience results straight-away. Anybody who tells you that you can master watercolor painting in 30 or even 60 days is a liar. But as the months pass and you keep turning up and painting these watercolor sketches then you’ll start to see improvement.

Enjoy the ride

But the thing is as you keep turning up and painting you’ll start to find your abilities and creativity come to life and painting will become an enjoyable habit – and this is the way to mastery.

Minimal approach

In this beginning series we are only using 3 colors and 3 brushes because I want you to achieve mastery as quickly as possible and that is best done by you only having to master a few things – the fewer the better. However, if it feels overwhelming then check out my One Brush Method which simplifies everything even further and after you finish that then come back here.

Your special creative space

I recommend that you have all your materials in a special place and ready to use. You want to lower any barriers that might stop you painting.


The three brushes are a hake, a liner and a bamboo brush. It is okay to use a simple flat brush instead of a hake and a round brush instead of a bamboo brush.

The three colors are Phthalo blue (which is a very powerful blue), Permanent Alizarin Crimson (which is a cool red) and Yellow Ochre (which is a yellowy-brown color. I chose yellow ochre instead of a normally bright yellow because it doesn’t turn green so quickly when mixed with blue and this is important when you paint skies unless you like green skies.

Main materials (in the download you will find links to dickblick)

HakeDiameter about 15 mm or 5/8”, costs about $13. Note that any flat brush is fine.
BambooDiameter about 6 mm or 7 / 32”, costs about $3.
LinerCosts about $6.
Phthalo blue15ml tube, costs about $10. Ultramarine blue is okay. And just try any blue that you have.
Alizarin Crimson15ml tube, costs about $14. If you haven’t got this color then use whatever red you have.
Yellow Ochre15ml tube, costs about $10. If you haven’t got this color then use whatever yellow or light brown you have.
Watercolor Wire-bound Pad 12 x 9” (30 x 22.5 cm), 20 sheets, 300 gsm, costs about $14. Once again, just use whatever paper you have. This is just what I use.

Below is a PDF of all the materials you need. It also comes with technical details, notes and links to dickblick art store or Amazon. You can download this list and print it out.

The 3 Brush Painting Course

If you enjoyed this video them then you might want to look at my 3 Brush Method in which we paint over 10 different scenes with just 3 brushes and 3 colors. These are not quick sketches but proper paintings. Click on the button below for more details.

That’s all. Happy painting adventures.

Gareth Naylor

I am an Englishman living and painting in Japan. I have now been here for over 17 years and have been painting for all that time. I love to travel around the Japanese countryside and find beautiful places to paint.

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