Watercolor Pencils for Paint and Sip Parties

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I have been teaching at paint and sip parties for the past few years. Most of the time, I teach the students how to paint with acrylic paints.

A few weeks ago, I had some friends over. Now, it wasn’t actually a sip and paint party, but it ended up turning into one.

We did something a bit different though, and it was quite fun. Instead of using acrylic paints or watercolor paints, we worked with watercolor pencils.

While I do have to tweak a few things for regular classes, we had so much fun with this that I have decided to start using watercolor pencils for some paint and sip parties.

Are you interested in learning more about using this interesting medium for your next paint party? 

If so, keep on reading to find out how I plan to use these pencils at paint and sip parties.

A Fun Paint Party Idea to Play Around With

We had so much fun at our get-together, and it got me thinking that this could be something fun and different for sip and paint parties

The guests would be learning a new technique, and they would be doing something different than acrylic paintings.

If guests have been to a few paint parties, they may enjoy working with a different medium. Most of the time I teach them how to work with acrylic paints, so this is a great opportunity for people to learn how to use a different medium.

What Are Watercolor Pencils?

Watercolor pencils are almost like having two mediums in one. You get the beautiful, vibrant colors that watercolor paints are known for, and you get the control that you would have with pencils.

Watercolor pencils look and feel just like ordinary colored pencils. The big difference between the two is that watercolor pencils can be activated with water.

The water turns the pigment into watercolor paint, which can be spread onto the canvas, watercolor paper, etc.

How Do Watercolor Pencils Work?

The core of a watercolor pencil, or lead as some people like to call it, has a water-soluble binder, as opposed to regular colored pencils which contain binders that are either oil or wax.

When water is added, you get the same effect as you would if you were working with watercolor paints. It spreads nicely, and you can layer the colors for deeper tones and interesting effects.

Use as You Would Use Regular Colored Pencils

There are a few ways to use watercolor pencils. I like to use them as I would use any other type of colored pencils.

The first thing I do is draw the design. Then, I color it with watercolor pencils.

Then, I dip a clean paintbrush into clear water and spread the water onto the areas that have been colored. This spreads the pigment around just like watercolor paints.

Build Color in Layers

There is one thing I should mention about using these pencils. You don’t need to press down hard to get deeper shades of the colors you are working with.

Instead, it is better to layer colors. When water is added, the colors not only spread, they intensify. The more layers you build, the more intense the color will be.

The only problem with this is that it takes a lot longer to do a painting this way because each layer has to be completely dry before starting the next layer.

Lightly color each area, and then add the water and spread out the pigment. Allow the pigment to completely dry, and then go over the area again with another layer if you want darker, richer colors.

I have decided that if I do start teaching students about watercolor pencils at paint and sip parties, I am going to use simple drawings and just one or two layers of color. That way, everyone can accomplish their masterpieces in a single evening.

Use Watercolor Paper

Normally, I would bring stretched canvases to a paint party. This isn’t the best surface for watercolor paints, and it isn’t ideal for watercolor pencils either unless it is pre-treated with gesso (even better, use watercolor ground, which turns almost any surface into a watercolor painting surface).

For this little get-together, I just gave each person a sheet of my own watercolor paper. When I start teaching paint and sip students how to use watercolor pencils, I will be using the same type of paper.

Watercolor Pencils Allow You to Have More Control

A lot of beginners at paint and sip parties find that they have a hard time controlling the brushes. This is something that takes a lot of practice, and no one is going to master it during a single paint party.

Using watercolor pencils allows the user to have a lot more control. After all, until you start adding water, these pencils are used just like traditional colored pencils.

Start with Simple Sketches

You are probably thinking that it would take too long to use watercolor pencils for a paint and sip party. After all, it takes a while to draw the design, and then coloring can take quite a bit of time as well.

Right now, I am working on designs to use for paint parties that will be simple. That way, paintings can be done in a couple of hours, just like acrylic paintings.

The students can jump right into coloring, and because the designs will be simple, they won’t have to spend as much time as they would on an adult coloring page or something similar.


One of the things I enjoy the most about using watercolor pencils is that they are portable. All you need to bring to a paint and sip party are watercolor pencils, drawing pencils, brushes, and watercolor paper.

So, I’m thinking that since summer is fast approaching, I’m going to take painting parties to the great outdoors. This is a great way for everyone to get some fresh air, enjoy a change of scenery, and create awesome pieces of art.

If you want to try something different, don’t forget to check my guide on pastel painting for paint and sip.

*image by ASphoto777/depositphotos