Watercolor Octopus Painting Progress

This octopus is one of the pieces I want to enter into the student art show that the gallery at my college hosts each April. I can enter up to four pieces, and this is one I started a few months ago around September last year.


So I began by using a few reference photos for the different arms of the octopus to help me form a dynamic composition. I drew everything out in pencil before I used a wet on wet technique to make each of the octopuses suckers a light gray color. I used a very small brush to paint the small lines creating the texture and divots in the suckers. I used Prismacolor colored pencil to outline to suckers in blue.

My favorite thing about painting the octopus has been that I can make up the colors as I go, and unless you want to paint a certain type of octopus the colors are so easy to freehand.


When you draw or paint an octopus you have the total freedom to make its arms twist and turn any way you want.

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When I draw in pencil sometimes my outlines can get pretty dark so I use my kneaded eraser just to lighten up the graphite before I start painting. This will especially help you if you’re drawing or painting something very light in color, or if you need to pull up some of your graphite in a pencil drawing you’re working on.


I chose to go with purple and a reddish pink for the colors in the arms, and I decided to add white speckled dots to create a texture for the skin of the octopus.


The mini palette I’m using is from Windsor and Newton and I love it! I originally bought it so I could paint while I’m traveling, but I haven’t gotten the chance for that yet so I just use them for everyday use. If you’d like to purchase one as well I suggest getting them on Amazon rather than somewhere like Michael’s solely because it’s like ten bucks cheaper on Amazon.
Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Sketchers Pocket Box


In the picture below you can see the red dots I added around the suckers of the octopus. I enjoy how easy it is to just go back into the painting and layer up the paint to create texture. Get creative with your octopus, and let your imagination run wild as you dive right into this subject for your next painting!


I’ve made a bit more progress on this piece, but I probably won’t post again until it’s complete, and I can’t wait I’m so excited!

3 thoughts on “Watercolor Octopus Painting Progress

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