How to paint lights with watercolors-tutorial by CreativeIngrid

One of the main qualities of watercolors is that by varying the amount of water and pigment that we use, the result can be very transparent or even opaque.

To practice transparency and color value in my book ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’, I proposed a project called ‘Layering Circles’ (Photo 1). A wet on dry exercise where we can observe this quality while layering circles.

By using the same principle we can create the effect of light in a fun and simple way. I exemplify this with a string of lights (Photo 2), but I didn’t go trough the process. So I thought it will be handy to create a step-by-step tutorial.

Layering circles with watercolors, tutorial Painting a string of lights with watercolors
Layering Circles String of lights

The following tutorial is for a yellow light, but you can create lights in many colours. The key is always to work from light to dark, so don’t be afraid of using enough water to achieve this. You can only use one color if you want, although I propose using two for a more interesting effect.

I also created a quick video that can be found as a reel on mi IG account where I added a blue back ground just for fun. It is a more experimental approach where I also sparkle some salt for an additional texture.


For this project you will need:

  • Watercolor paint
  • Watercolor paper
  • Pencil or watercolor pencil
  • Brushes

Color palette

Lemon Yellow and Pyrole Orange




1. Paint a translucid yellow circle and let dry. 2. Draw the light bulb using a watercolor pencil.
3. Make a watery mix of Lemon Yellow and Pyrole Orange, and paint a second circle, slightly smaller than the first. Go around the light bulb in step 3 and 4, we want to reserve the original color. Allow to dry. 4. Add more orange to your mix and paint a third smaller circle.
5. Repeat this step if you wish with smaller circles, I painted a total of five circles. 6. Leave the light bulb as is or add more color if you wish. I added more yellow and orange. Using a gray watercolor pencil, draw the base of the light bulb.
7. I drew some lines to resemble the idea of a strain. 8. Try it using different colors!



For the group of lights with a blue background in the video I used:

Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Light, Pyrole Orange, Cobalt Teal, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Indigo.

NOTE: This tutorial is based in the projects of the book ‘DIY Watercolor Christmas’ by Ingrid Sanchez, AKA CreativeIngrid. Publisher: David & Charles (13 July 2021).
* With thanks to Cass Art (UK) for providing the watercolors for testing them.
November 26, 2021 — Ingrid Sanchez

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