Brighten Up with Liquid Watercolors

You might be thinking that between acrylics, tempera, tempera cakes, and watercolor cakes that you don’t need one more paint product crowding your cupboards. Well, think again! We recently talked about tube watercolors for your art room, and although there are some similarities and differences between tube and liquid, if you haven’t used liquid watercolors, they are also worth a try for these convincing reasons…
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You Can Control Paint Usage.
Since liquid watercolors come in large bottles, you can put out as little or as much as you’d like. You can also determine intensity of color. Make it part of the lesson by setting out undiluted color and have students mix in water and and test the results on scrap paper until the find what they need. As you can tell, my need for control is great and liquid watercolors really make me happy in that way.
The Colors are Mad Vivid.
When students complained that regular watercolors lack the saturation they are looking for (my words, of course, not theirs), I didn’t have a lot to offer them in the way of solutions. I wanted them to keep their brushes wet and hated when they ground holes in the pans. So, colors remained muted and pastel. Not the case with liquid watercolors. If a lesson requires in-your-face color, they can do it and make those more subtle shades.
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They Store Up Just as Easily As Cakes.
I leave my liquid watercolor pans out on the counter to dry up overnight, then store them in the cupboard. Students can reconstitute them like regular watercolors the next time they are needed. Although the bottles seem small for the price, they last forever and create little waste.

What are your experiences with liquid watercolors? 

Any tips or tricks to share?

Sarah Dougherty

My name is Sarah Dougherty, and I teach elementary art in a large urban district in central Iowa. I love working with our diverse population of K-5 students to bring art to their homes, communities, and everyday lives.


  • Jen

    Love liquid watercolors. SO WORTH IT! This is how I handle distribution of them:

    • Jen, Our cupboards look almost identical! Thanks for sharing those visuals.

  • Julie Wasson

    Liquid watercolors are great to use with airbrush for students as well.
    Far safer and less toxic than some of the other airbrush materials in a

    • I have never thought about airbrushing with them, great idea! I bet I could dilute some a bit and put it in my spray bottles for the little kids.

    • Julie Wasson

      You wouldn’t need to dilute by much, the viscosity is pretty compliant already. It will effect the intensity of the color. Try it , you will like it. The Dick Blick brand works well.

  • I love the Dick Blick glitter liquid watercolor paints!
    I didn’t know you could let them dry out over night and use the next day. Thanks for the information!

    • GLITTER!? The kindergarteners and I will be in second heaven next year when I order those!

    • OOOoooo I didn’t know about the glitter option either. FUN!

  • Lindsey Miller

    I was all set to buy these, but it was one of the supplies that I had to nix after my total got a little high. When I don’t have access to liquid watercolors, I make my own with markers that seem dried up. Just place washable markers in a container of water for a day or so and it will pull all of the color out and into the container making for some really great watercolors.

    • Great idea, Lindsey! Art teachers are so resourceful!

  • Clara

    I love liquid watercolors! I use them when teaching art journaling techniques – love putting them in spray bottles (but you REALLY have to emphasize not to spray too many times and over saturate the paper) and have also put them in small plastic cups and used pipettes to drip on paper pre-wet with water.

    • Clara, I can see how they lend themselves naturally to journaling. I’m going to have to try the pipette technique! Thanks for your comments.

  • Kelly

    Have students spread an even layer of shaving cream on a styrofoam plate, drip a few drops of liquid watercolor (really love the metallic ones), swirl designs with a craft stick, press paper on top, scrape foam off paper with the side of the craft stick and you get beautiful paper marbling.

  • Becca Kallem

    so fun in spray bottles too!

  • Viv

    I dilute liquid water colors in large dishsoap bottles. When i give them paint i have tiny cups, I can easily walk by and give them a squirt. I have even even added blue to my prang watercolor sets, i think it is easier then refilling ovals and less messy. Sometimes only one color is empty. I vote for liquid watercolor, they have amazing color with no one painting opaque.

  • Beth Young

    I use them to make colored glue. Good for resist and abstract prints.