Brush Strokes 101

Learn to paint 20 different brush strokes with 1 brush

You ready to brush up on your watercolour strokes? Let's do this!

Most beginners (and I'll admit - even those of us who have been painting for a while) get in the habit of simply drawing or colouring in with our brush. We hold it and use it like a pencil or marker, when really, there are SO many other ways to use it! This 4 week challenge will show you 20 different ways to use just 1 brush. After 20 quick and simple exercises, you'll walk away with lots of different techniques at the forefront of your mind the next time you sit down to paint, helping you to create even more dynamic pieces of art. Different subjects call for different techniques to make them pop off the page - so let's discover them!

But Emma, couldn't I just go buy 20 different brushes?

I mean yeah, sure - if that's your thing and you have the budget. But over here we're all about MINIMAL supplies for MAXIMUM results. My other free challenge, Colour Theory 101 on the homepage, shows you how to make 144 colours from just 3, and now we're tackling another supply by learning how to make 20 strokes with one brush. Keeping it simple, yo!

Ok cool that's great and you're such a lovely and generous person for teaching us that, (thank you) but where does the challenge part come into it?

I'm so glad you asked! This isn't just about watching 20 short demo videos and maaaaybe sitting down to try them out - I have homework for you!

At the conclusion of each demo video, your task is to go and paint an object, using only the stroke you just learned that day. And! You'll paint the exact same object each day. So if you choose to paint a red apple with a green leaf - you'll be painting that for 20 days, but it's gonna look different every single time because you'll create each painting with ONLY ONE type of stroke.

It's your job to decide WHAT to paint (something relatively simple like a tree, flower or piece of fruit), and HOW to paint that exact thing with the brush strokes I show you. I'll be painting a tree by the way, but you can choose whateeeever you like. As long as you paint the same subject each day!

This will really help drive home the difference each stroke makes on a subject, and I'll be throwing in some tips along the way for which subjects suit certain strokes. Will you be creating masterpieces? Nope. Will some of them look like bin sludge? Probably. But will you learn how to use your brush in more ways than one, and how to create more dynamic artwork in the future and have a catalogue of 20 strokes to refer back to? Absolutely.

Can't wait to get started with you!


  • Brush Strokes 101

Weekly lessons:

  • Week 1: full, thin, varying, dabbing, dry
  • Week 2: wash, cross-hatching, stippling, scumbling, flicking
  • Week 3: feathering, curves, circles, dashes, splatter
  • Week 4: teardrop, directional, dropping, minimal, continuous

Techniques taught:

  • Brush strokes
  • Composition
  • Creative problem solving

Supplies (required)

  • Watercolour paper: Arches 185-300gsm coldpress is always recommended by me cos it's the beeest, but a lesser weight and different brand is totally fine - we're experimenting with brush strokes, not making masterpieces! You'll need enough to create 20 small watercolour sketches, one at the conclusion of each brush stroke demo vid.
  • Brush: Round watercolour brush between size 8-12 is recommended. Bigger is OK too, but smaller may be hard to see the full characteristics of the strokes. My favourites are Princeton Heritage, Snap and Select.
  • Watercolour paint: 1-2 colours. You're welcome to paint in monochrome but 2 colours makes the challenge a bit more interesting. It really doesn't matter what brand or quality you use but my go-to recommendations are The Watercolour Factory and Winsor and Newton professional.
  • Water jar(s): I use 2, one for warm colours and one for cool.
  • Paper towel
  • Palette / mixing surface: old dinner plates are great

Supplies (suggested / optional)

  • Pencil, eraser and ruler: if you want to divide a big sheet of paper into 20 squares for each sketch
  • Painters tape and a board (to tape down loose paper to prevent buckling)

Your Instructor

Emma Witte
Emma Witte

Oh, hey! I'm Emma - and my favourite thing in the world is to help legends like you find and unleash their inner artist. My second favourite thing is chocolate milk.

I've been doing and teaching brush lettering and watercolour since 2015 and I'm here to help show you that you don't need a degree in Fine Arts, you don't need 50,000 years of experience, and you don't need infinity art supplies to be good, AND great, at art. I love problem-solving the crap out of tricky techniques and then passing that info on to you in bite-sized classes - it's my jam. Let's face it, you're BUSY - so why spend all of your me-time figuring the hard stuff out, when you could spend it creating instead?

Our motto here is to keep it simple, and have FUN! Look forward to doing just that with you real soonsies.

- Emma

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the challenge start and finish?
The challenge will run throughout the month of July, starting on the 1st. But it's cool if you jump in later or have to finish after July - the course will be available to take any time after the month is up :)
How long do I have access to the challenge materials?
As long as the internet exists! No rush to finish it in July, and you can come back to it at any time.
What supplies do I need?
Scroll back up for a detailed list - but in short, 1 round watercolour brush, 1-2 colours of watercolour paint, and enough watercolour paper to paint 20 small illustrations on! Any brand and quality is fine.

Get started now!