Loose Cafe Scene With Watercolors Demo

In this captivating video demonstration, I’ll guide you through the process of painting a loose and expressive cafe scene using watercolors. While the inspiration for this artwork comes from a photo reference, I’ve made several changes to make it uniquely my own.

The video below is loaded with useful tips as I share how I painted Cafe from start to finish. If you have a basic understanding of watercolor techniques, you’ll easily grasp the essence of each step. Beginners can easily paint along with me so long as you don’t mind pausing the video once in a while to catch up.

Captivating Creativity: Unleashing the Magic of Painting a Loose Watercolor Cafe Scene

Below, you’ll find the list of materials used below the video, along with helpful tips for achieving a loose painting style. Additionally, I’ve included the inspiration image that sparked this artwork, as well as the final finished piece. Let’s dive in and explore the joy of painting with watercolors!

Here are a few pointers to help you loosen up your artistic style:

Embrace a pre-drawing-free approach: While it may initially seem challenging, try painting without a pre-drawn outline. This allows for greater freedom and spontaneity in your brushwork.

Experiment with different brushes: Break away from using only your favorite brushes and explore unconventional options. For instance, using a small or medium-sized sword brush for larger washes can yield expressive and dynamic results. Don’t hesitate to incorporate brushes typically used for acrylic painting. Embrace variety and break free from monotony.

Play with arbitrary colors, but focus on values: Instead of obsessing over color accuracy, feel free to experiment with a range of hues. However, pay close attention to the values in your painting. Mastering value hierarchy is key to creating depth and capturing the essence of your scene.

Tips for Painting a Loose Cafe Scene With Watercolors
Cafe by Robert Joyner

Suggested Material Checklist

Materials can make or break the outcome of a watercolor study. Watch the video that covers the best watercolor materials if you need more specifics about color choices, brush sizes and such. Basically, it’s exactly what I use and recommend for all levels.

Watercolor Paints: Opt for artist-grade watercolor paints in a range of colors. Choose a basic palette that includes six primary colors (one cool and warm hue for each one including red, blue, and yellow) along with earth tones for a versatile collection.

If you aren’t aware of the six primary palette, then check out our in-depth article on how to mix watercolors for beginners. It has the exact hues I use for every painting. And, if I make changes, I always update the article so you know the exact hues that get the best results.

Brushes: Invest in a set of good-quality watercolor brushes with different shapes and sizes. Round brushes are excellent for detailed work, while flat brushes are great for larger washes. I’d recommend one medium and one large pointed round. Then get a large mop brush that will handle those initial washed that are applied in the very beginning.

You only need three brushes to do most of the heavy lifting! However, I do recommend having a dagger and possibly and Motler on hand as well. Check out the article I wrote on how to choose the best watercolor brushes if you have questions on the exact brands, sizes and such.

Paper: I highly recommend selecting watercolor paper specifically designed for this medium. Look for papers labeled “cold-pressed” or “hot-pressed” to suit your preferred texture. Experiment with different weights and brands to find the one that suits your style. Most beginners choose 140 lb. cold press to start their journey. Hot press tends to be a little slick and most used for highly detailed work and portraits.

Avoid cheap, wood pulp papers as they don’t react properly to washes and other techniques. These cheaper papers tend to break down quickly and don’t age well either, basically yellowing over time. Be sure to read the how to choose the best watercolor paper article when you have time.

If you aren’t aware of the six primary palette, then check out our in-depth article on how to mix watercolors for beginners. It has the exact hues I use for every painting. And, if I make changes, I always update the article so you know the exact hues that get the best results.

Palette: A palette is essential for mixing and diluting your watercolors. Choose a palette with wells to hold different colors and a large mixing area. Small palettes tend to get dirty too quick and I found it difficult to have enough free space to mix enough colors without having to stop everything to clean up. The Masterson Pro palette works great and available at Amazon and Blick Art.

Water Containers: Have at least two containers for water—one for rinsing your brushes and another for clean water. Make sure the containers aren’t too small, and I would recommend plastic over glass. I’ve had plenty of studio accidents and cleaning up shattered glass isn’t ideal when in a creative mode.

Masking Tape and Drawing Board: Masking tape helps secure your paper to a drawing board, keeping it flat and preventing it from warping. The tape is optional and depends if you prefer the clean edges. In the beginning you will most likely focus on sketches and studies, so maybe pass until you determine later on if you need it.

A smooth, firm board is a must! I recommend Gator foam board as it’s very sturdy, smooth and durable. Fairly inexpensive and light weight to boot. That covers materials, let’s move on to skills you need to start watercolor painting.

Here’s a useful article for all watercolor materials I use and recommend.


Painting a loose watercolor cafe scene is a captivating and magical journey that allows you to unleash your creativity and artistic expression. By embracing the freedom of a loose style, you can infuse your artwork with a sense of spontaneity and vibrancy.

Remember to let go of perfectionism and embrace the beauty of imperfections.

With the right techniques, a playful approach, and a touch of inspiration, you can create a captivating watercolor cafe scene that truly captures the essence of the moment. So, grab your brushes, immerse yourself in the world of watercolors, and let your imagination run wild as you paint your very own loose and enchanting cafe scene.