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Brush Srokes

Flat Wash

A Flat Wash is a uniform wash that has no variations in hue or value. It is one color from top to bottom. Its lightness or darkness does not vary from top to bottom.

A flat wash can be applied in a variety of ways. The surface can be wet or dry, inclined or flat.

KEYS TO LAYING A SUCCESSFUL FLAT WASH.
1. Mix up more paint than you expect to use; you cannot pause to mix up new paint while you are in the middle of laying the wash. If you have to stop and mix paint before the wash is finished, some parts will begin to dry and the wash will be uneven. It's almost impossible to mix the same hue and value the second time.

2. Mix the paint and water thoroughly, avoiding any undiluted clumps of paint. Make sure the mixture remains well stirred, since many pigments, such as viridian and the cobalts, have a tendency to settle to the bottom.

3. Test the hue and value of the mixture on a scrap piece of watercolor paper or on a white paper towel. (If it is too dark, add water. If it is too light, add more pigment.) Remember that watercolor paints dry lighter, sometimes by as much as 30%.

4. Paper quality makes a big difference when painting washes. In general, professional-grade paper stays wet longer, providing more time to work on the wash. Good quality paper also accepts multiple washes better than student-grade paper. Some cheaper papers don't absorb repeated washes well, and the paint smears instead. The thinner the paper, the more it wrinkles when exposed to large amounts of water. For paintings larger than 11 x 17 inches, it is best to use 300lb paper or watercolor board. For smaller paintings, 140lb paper works well.

5. The larger the area to be covered, the larger the brush. Cover as much space as possible with each stroke.

6. As long as the wash is very wet, you can add more paint, soak up excess paint, tilt the support board back and forth. However, once the wash begins to dry, don't try to make any changes. Wait until it is dry. Then if it is too light, glaze another wash over the top of the first. If it is too dark, cover the area with clean water, then blot off some of the color with a paper towel. If watermarks or other irregularities are present that you want to eliminate, rewet the paper, let the water soak in for a moment, add some new pigment, and rework the area.

METHOD 1: Wet paint on dry paper, paper flat, two sets of brush strokes 90 degrees to each other. The key to success of this method is to keep the painted surface very wet.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Pre-mix more paint than you think you will need.
  • Load a large brush with rich, very wet paint, and start the wash with a brushstroke across the top of the page.
  • Reload the brush and apply a second stroke below the first. (Do not rinse your brush before reloading.) Continue reloading and stroking down the rectangle to the bottom, making sure the painted area remains very wet.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • Evaluate the wash. If there are any obvious weak areas, repaint them. (As long as the paper is still very wet, you can add more paint without any problems.)
  • Turn the paper 90 degrees
  • Reload the brush and apply paint with a brushstroke that is perpendicular to the previous brushstrokes. Continue down the rectangle to the bottom, again making sure the painted area remains very wet.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • Pick up your board and tilt in back and forth to eliminate any evidence of brushstrokes.
  • Lay the board flat, and allow the wash to dry on its own.


To read more about this method, see Mastering the Watercolor Wash by Joe Garcia.

METHOD 2: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined enough to create a bead of paint at the bottom of each horizontal stroke, connect each subsequent horizontal stroke with the bead of the previous stroke.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board between 15 and 30 degrees.
  • Pre-mix more paint than you think you will need.
  • Load a large brush with rich, very wet paint, and start the wash with a brushstroke across the top of the page. (A bead should form at the base of the stroke. If it does not, either the paint is not wet enough or the board is not inclined enough.)
  • Reload the brush without rinsing and apply a second stroke below the first. Be sure to overlap the bead of paint that has formed at the bottom of the first stroke. To keep the value of the wash consistent, it may help to alternate strokes from left to right. Do not let one stroke dry before the next stroke is applied.
  • Continue overlapping strokes to the bottom of the wash area. If any stroke runs out of paint before you reach the other side, refill your brush and repeat the stroke immediately.
  • When you get to the bottom of the wash area, rinse out your brush, squeeze it dry, and wick up the bead of excess paint. Be sure to wipe off the excess paint on the edges to prevent backruns.
  • Lay the board flat and allow the wash to dry on its own. (For a pronounced texture in your wash let it dry inclined at an angle. The pigment will settle out in the texture of the paper.)
  • Do not go back into the wash once it has begun to dry.


METHOD 3: same as Method 2 only rather than horizontal strokes, work the bead down the paper with cross-hatch brush strokes. (See Robert Wade videos.)

METHOD 4: same as Method 2 only rather than horizontal strokes, work the bead down the paper with short vertical strokes. (See Judy Morris videos.)

METHOD 5: Wet paint on wet paper, paper flat. (See Wet Into Wet Wash and Wet Into Wet Glazing.)

Graded Wash

A Graded Wash is one that smoothly changes in value from dark to light, from light to dark, or from one color to another. A graded wash can cover the entire page, the sky down to the horizon, the trunk of a tree, or a petal of a flower.

A graded wash can be applied in a variety of ways. The surface can be wet or dry, inclined or flat. You can start from the darkest area and proceed to the lightest by adding more water, or start with the lightest area and proceed to the darkest by adding more paint. You can start at the top and work down, or start at the bottom and work up. You can add clear water at the first or at the end.

KEYS TO LAYING A SUCCESSFUL GRADED WASH.
The keys to laying a flat wash apply to graded washes also. Mix more paint that you expect to use. Mix the paint thoroughly. Test the hue and value on a scrap piece of paper. Use as large a brush as possible. Use 140lb or 300 lb artist's grade paper. Keep the surface very wet. Refrain from making alterations after the paint has started to dry. Don't be afraid to turn the painting upside down so that the paint will flow in the right direction.

METHOD 1: Wet paint on dry paper, paper flat, start with darkest value and proceed to lightest, dilute the paint in the brush with each successive brushstroke.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Pre-mix more paint than you think you will need.
  • Load a large brush with rich, very wet paint, and start the wash with a brushstroke across the top of the page.
  • Dip your brush into clean water to dilute the paint in the brush. (Do not rinse the brush.) Immediately apply the second stroke across the paper.
  • Dip your brush into clean water once again, and apply the third stroke.
  • Continue in this fashion to the bottom of the paper. By the time you reach the bottom of the wash, it should have little or no color.
  • Evaluate your wash. If the gradation is not gradual and even, rework the wash by repeating the same strokes from top to bottom. (You could also reverse the process. Start at the bottom with clear water and work upward, adding more color as you go.) CAUTION: You can only rework the wash while it is still very wet. If it has started to dry, wait until it has dried thoroughly to make any modifications.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • Pick up your board and tilt it back and forth to eliminate any evidence of brushstrokes. (Brush strokes can also be eliminated by lightly stroking at 90 degrees to the original strokes.)
  • Lay the board flat to dry on its own.


To read more about this method, see Mastering the Watercolor Wash by Joe Garcia.

METHOD 2: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined, start with darkest value and proceed to lightest, dilute the paint in a puddle (rather than the paint in the brush as in Method 1).
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Pre-mix more paint than you think you will need.
  • Load a large brush with rich, very wet paint, and start the wash with a brushstroke across the top of the page.
  • Add a large drop of water to the puddle of paint, stir, and paint a second color strip, barely overlapping the first.
  • Add another drop of water to the puddle of paint, stir, and paint a third strip. Continue down to the bottom of the paper.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • Pick up your board and tilt it back and forth to eliminate any evidence of brushstrokes.
  • Lay the board flat to dry on its own.


METHOD 3: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined, start with lightest value and proceed to darkest, adding more paint to the puddle with each brush stroke.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Place a puddle of clear water in a mixing area.
  • Add a small amount of paint to the puddle. Stir and paint the first strip across the top of the rectangle.
  • Add a little more paint to the puddle, and paint the next strip.
  • Continue in this fashion until you reach the bottom of the paper, where the color will have reached its greatest concentration.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • Pick up your board and tilt it back and forth to eliminate any evidence of brushstrokes.
  • Lay the board flat to dry on its own.


METHOD 4: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined, start with one color and then gradually transition to a second color with each brush stroke.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Place a puddle of clear water in a mixing area.
  • Add enough paint to the puddle to make the color you want for the first brush stroke. Stir and paint the first strip across the top of the rectangle.
  • Add a small amount of a second paint to the puddle, stir, and paint the next strip.
  • Add more of the second paint to the puddle prior to each additional stroke. Continue until you reach the bottom of the paper.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • Pick up your board and tilt it back and forth to eliminate any evidence of brushstrokes.
  • Lay the board flat to dry on its own.


METHOD 5: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined, start with a large puddle that has the lightest value at one end and the darkest at the other.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Place a puddle of clear water in a mixing area.
  • Make a big puddle of a dark mixture below the puddle of clear water.
  • Join the two puddles in the middle to make one mixture that gradates from almost clear water to a dark mixture.
  • Load the brush with clear water, and paint the first stroke.
  • Load the brush with the light end of the puddle, and paint the second stroke.
  • Load the brush with a slightly darker portion of the puddle, and paint the next stroke. Continue this process of loading progressively darker color and stroking the paper until you reach the bottom of the paper.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • As long as the painted area is still very wet and hasn't begun to dry, pick up your board and tilt it back and forth to eliminate any evidence of brushstrokes.
  • Lay the board flat to dry on its own.


METHOD 6: Wet paint on wet paper, paper inclined, 1 inch hog bristle chisel tip brush, paint continuous strokes until brush runs out of paint .
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Wet the paper with Suzie Short's 1 inch hog bristle chisel tip brush.
  • Let the water soak in, but don't wait until the sheen is gone.
  • With the water that is left in the brush, stroke paint that has dried in a palette well. Mix the paint in a mixing area to eliminate any clumps of paint.
  • Start at the top of the paper, and stroke back and forth down the paper. By the time you get to the bottom, there will be less paint in the brush, resulting in a graded wash.


To learn more about this method, see Susie Short's videos (http://susieshort.com/).

METHOD 7: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined, rather than a gradual transition simply blur the border.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Apply two strokes of paint across the top of the page with a large brush. (Approximately 1/3 of the page.)
  • Quickly tip your brush in some clean water and pull it along the bottom of the wash to blur the transition into the white area.
  • Rinse your brush, and wash the remaining white area with clean water.
  • Let the wash dry, or add other elements wet-in-wet.


METHOD 8: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined, start with clear water to the lightest area of the shape to be filled with a graded wash, gradually add more and more of the paint as you move to the darker area.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Draw the shape that will receive a graded wash (tree, ball, flower petal, snow bank, wave, road, stream).
  • Add clear water to the lightest area.
  • Overlap the edge of the clear water with a brush stroke of paint.
  • Overlap this with a darker stroke if needed.


METHOD 9: Wet paint on dry paper, paper flat, start with a flat wash of one color and then, while the first wash is still wet, charge one end of the wash with another color.

METHOD 10: Let the first graded wash dry. Turn the painting upside down and glaze a second graded wash over the top of the first. After the second wash has dried, turn the painting 90 degrees and paint a third graded wash.

METHOD 11: The priming method of Susan Harrison-Tustain is another method of creating a graded wash.

METHOD 12: Wet paint on wet paper, paper inclined slightly, start with darkest value and proceed to lightest, dilute the paint in the puddle with each successive brushstroke. This method involves frequent blotting of the brush.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board slightly.
  • Have two containers of clear water on hand[~]one for rinsing and one for a source of clean water.
  • Premix a wash puddle of adequate size and value to do the job.
  • Thoroughly wet the surface of the paper.
  • Stroke 1. Dip the brush in the wash puddle. Blot the brush tip lightly on a paper towel. Stroke across the darkest part of the graded wash.
  • Stroke 2. Rinse the brush. Blot. Dip in clean water. Blot lightly. Stir the water remaining in the brush into the wash puddle. (The value will lighten according to the amount of water added.) Blot the tip of the brush lightly. Add the second stroke, overlapping the first stroke slightly to pull the gathered moisture into the newly painted area.
  • Rinse/blot, dip/blot, stir/blot, paint next slightly overlapping stroke.
  • Continue to the bottom of the wash area.
  • Wick up any excess moisture after the last stroke.
  • Lay flat to dry.


To learn more about this method, read Watercolor Made Simple with Claudia Nice.

Variegated Wash (Mingled Wash, Wet-Into-Wet Wash)
The Variegated Wash is a loose, flowing, spontaneous wash that incorporates the characteristics of flat, graded, and streaked washes. It is created by wetting the paper and then applying a variety of colors so that they blend together on the paper.

KEYS TO LAYING A SUCCESSFUL VARIEGATED WASH.
1. Saturate the paper thoroughly and evenly.
2. Allow the colors to flow together by themselves. Do not mix the colors with a brush.

METHOD 1: Wet paint on wet paper, paper inclined 15 to 30 degrees, apply a variety of paints, and allow to mingle.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Pre-mix all the colors you will use.
  • Thoroughly saturate the paper. You may want to cover the area two or three times to make sure it is totally soaked.
  • Apply the first color, leaving lots of white space where other colors can be added.
  • Add the second color as soon as possible. The paper needs to remain very wet. If it starts to dry out, spray it with clean water.
  • Add a third and a fourth color is desired.
  • Pick up the support board and tilt it back and forth and side to side, to allow gravity to facilitate the flow and blending of the colors. Do not blend the colors with a brush.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • When you are satisfied with the wash, lay it flat and allow it to dry on its own.


METHOD 2: Wet paint on dry paper, paper inclined 15 to 30 degrees, pre-mix a mingled puddle, apply the mixture of colors to the paper and let blend.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 15 to 30 degrees.
  • Mix a large puddle of the first color.
  • Mix separate puddles of each of the other colors.
  • Join the puddles so the colors bleed together to make one big puddle of paint that gradates from one color to another.
  • Transfer the colors in the mingled puddle to the paper.
  • Pick up the support board and tilt it back and forth and side to side, to allow gravity to facilitate the flow and blending of the colors. Do not blend the colors with a brush.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • When you are satisfied with the wash, lay it flat and allow it to dry on its own.


Streaked Wash

The Streaked Wash is one that has a definite direction of flow. This wash also could be called wet-into-wet or gradated, depending on how it is applied to the surface of the paper.

  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Pre-mix all the colors you will use.
  • Cover the wash area three or four times with clean water. this will assure complete saturation.
  • Apply the paint to the wet paper.
  • Pick up the board and tilt it to allow the wash to run in the desired direction. If the paint doesn't flow easily, spray it with fine mist spray bottle.
  • Wipe up any excess paint from the taped edges.
  • When you are satisfied with the wash, lay it flat and allow it to dry on its own.


VARIATION: After the first streaked wash has dried, rewet the paper with a fine mist spray bottle. Add a different paint to the same area, and tilt the painting in the same direction as before. This second was should blend with the first.

To read more about streaked washes, see Mastering the Watercolor Wash by Joe Garcia.

Wet Into Wet Glazes

1. Tape 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a board. Incline the board 45 degrees.
2. Prepare quantities of two or more of the following paints: raw sienna, cobalt blue, permanent rose, cerulean blue, quinacridone gold, winsor violet. Each paint should be in its own well, dish, or puddle.
3. Wet the paper. Blot the excess water from the bottom and sides.
4. Load a large brush with your first paint and apply it across the top of the paper. Reload the brush and add more of the same paint below the first, using cross-hatch or herringbone strokes. Proceed in a similar fashion to the bottom of the page. Wipe up the excess paint from the bottom and sides.
5. While the first wash is still wet, repeat the process with a second paint.
6. Continue adding wet-in-wet glazes of different paints until you are satisfied with the results.
7. Let the glazes dry.
For more information, see Robert Wade's Watercolor Workshop Handbook and his video with the same name.

Saturated Wet Technique

The Saturated Wet Technique of Cheng-Khee Chee attempts to synthesize abstract and realistic elements into a unified composition. Chee begins with an underpainting applied abstractly, freely, emotionally, with no concern for the risks involved. He then evaluates the underpainting, searching for the realistic shapes that lie hidden, waiting to be discovered. The shapes are created by wiping out areas of the abstract underpainting. Once the basic shapes are established, he adds paint to the shapes to create three-dimensional forms. Finally, he adds the fine details.

PRE-MIX PAINTS. Chee pre-mixes his paints in muffin tins so that the underpainting can be applied quickly.

His paints include the following: Cadmium yellow pale or lemon yellow, Cadmium yellow, Cadmium orange, Cadmium red, Alizarin crimson, Winsor violet, Ultramarine blue, Cobalt blue, Thalo/Winsor blue, Cerulean blue, Thalo/Winsor green. His semi-neutral/Earth Colors include: raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, sepia, indigo.

SATURATE PAPER. Place the paper on a non-absorbent support board, such as enameled masonite. Thoroughly saturate both sides of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper with large soft sponge. (300lb paper will soak up more water and will take longer to dry.) Don't scrub the surface with the sponge. Scrubbing will remove the sizing and stir up the fibers, making lifting of paint difficult. Let the saturated paper sit for a while, until the water is thoroughly absorbed. Gently wipe off any excess water by lightly dragging one edge of the large sponge across the paper. Incline the board approximately 15 degrees.

CREATE THE UNDERPAINTING. With a large brush and broad strokes, lay on one color at a time. Start with the lightest colors and gradually progress to the darkest. Don't use the brush like a broom. Instead, dance the brush all over the paper. Apply each color in each quadrant of the paper. After applying a color, thoroughly rinse the brush before proceeding with the next color.

Start by applying progressively darker blues: cerulean, cobalt, and then ultramarine. Add a warm brown, such as burnt umber. Introduce a few brighter colors: red, yellow, green. Finally, add the darkest paints: phthalo blue, indigo, and sepia. Cover the entire paper, leaving no white.

Rotate board to allow paints to run and blend by themselves. (Do not blend them with a brush or they may get muddy. As long as the paints blend by themselves, they will remain fresh.)

If the paints don't flow easily, spray the surface with clear water. (Remember, the key to success is keeping the paper moist at all times.)

If there appears to be too much moisture in one area, use a hair dryer to dry it enough to keep it from continuing to flow into other areas.

Rotate the wet underpainting to see which side is going to be "up"

LIFT THE MAIN SHAPES. Using a thirsty flat or oval squirrel brush, lift areas of the wet underpainting to create lighter shapes.Remove paint as if you were sculpting. Lift with one stroke, rinse and squeeze paint and water from the brush, then lift again. Be careful not to bring new water to the painting surface.

A small moist natural sponge can also be used to wipe out some shapes.

If the wet paint bleeds back into the wiped out areas, simply wipe it out again. It it gets out of control, use a hair dryer to take out some of the moisture. (You don't want to dry the painting, just remove enough moisture to make it manageable.)

Putting more pressure on one part of the brush, lifts more paint in that area, creating gradual transitions. Be careful not to scratch the paper with the metal ferrule.

Quickly, lift all the main shapes. Avoid spending too much time on one shape. As the paper dries, it becomes more difficult to lift the paint.

Progress from a large squirrel brush, to a smaller squirrel brush, and finally to a stiffer synthetic brush as the paint begins to dry and resists lifting.

ADD FORM TO THE SHAPES. Add form shadows to the shapes to create the illusion of three dimensions. Loading just one side of the brush is one way of creating smooth gradations.

If two shapes overlap and you want to paint a shadow on the lower shape, paint the shadow in one continuous stroke, right over the overlapping portion of the upper shape. Then wipe out the shadow where it crosses the upper shape.

ADD DETAILS. Details can be added as soon as the paper has lost most of its moisture. If details are added while the paper is still too wet, the details will spread out and disappear.

REFINE AFTER THE PAINTING IS DRY. Evaluate the painting after it has dried, and add any refinements that are necessary. Glazing some areas may improve the forms. Softening some edges may integrate the shapes with the background. Additional lifting with a stiff damp brush or with a sponge and stencil may enhance the highlights.

Buy Chee's DVD from Creative Catalyst Productions (http://www.ccpvideos.com).

Dry on Wet

Dry on wet is painting upon wet paper with a brush loaded with pigment and very little water. Dry on wet is used when you want to control soft shapes. Wet paper, wet brush and remove excess water, pick up pigment, remove additional water by squeezing near the ferrule, paint with the dry brush into the wet paper. Rinse brush, dry, pick up another pigment, dry some more and paint.

Damp paper and damp brushes act exactly like sponges. Any time the brush touches the paper, water is going to move either from the brush to the paper or from the paper to the brush[~]it'll move into the drier of the two. However, pigment on the brush will be deposited onto the paper no matter which way the water flows.

Wet the paper thoroughly with a sponge, brush, or soak it in a bathtub. If you wet both sides, it will stay wet longer.

Wet the brush with clean water. Remove excess water by touching the brush to a sponge, paper towel or roll of toilet tissue. You can also dry the brush by squeezing it with a towel.

Scoop the paint out onto one side of the brush only. Now roll the brush over and lay the clean side onto the sponge against to remove the rest of the water, but none of the pigment. (It may take a few seconds for enough additional water to transfer from the brush to the sponge). Paint a stroke onto the wet paper. The brush is drier than the paper, so water goes into the brush while pigment goes onto the paper. Because the paper is wet, the deposited pigment will "swim" in the water before it settles into the fibers of the paper, forming a shape with diffused or soft edges. The paint, being relatively dry, won't diffuse so much that it changes the shape you intended.

Glazing

Glazing is laying a wash over a previous wash that has dried. Subsequent layers can be of the same or a different hue, the same or a different value, and can cover the entire wash area or just a portion of it. If only a portion of the previous wash is covered, it is generally important to feather or blend the edges.

Glazes can be poured or applied with a brush. A new layer can be painted wet on dry or the previous layer can be rewet.

There are three reasons for glazing: to change the value, hue or intensity of a color. These changes are accomplished by optically mixing the colors on the paper rather than mixing them physically on the palette.
  1. Value of a color is changed by applying an additional layer of the same color over it. The more layers you paint, the darker the value will become.
  2. Hue is changed by glazing over the original color with a second, different one. If a thin layer of Quinacridone Red is glazed over a dry layer of Cobalt Blue, a violet is created.
  3. Intensity of a color is changed by painting a complementary color over the original color. A layer of Cobalt Blue by itself is bright and intense. If a thin layer of Orange is glazed over a dry layer of Cobalt Blue, the combination is less intense or dull.


Glazing can be used as a primary method of painting or it can be used to correct or modify a painting. Glazing can be used to adjust the mood, unity, or focus of a painting. If the entire painting seems to be too bright, it can be glazed with a cool color like Cobalt Blue. If the various segments of the painting seem disjointed, a unifying color can be glazed over everything. If one area is too warm and demanding too much attention, a cool color can be glazed over that area to make it recede into the background. Conversely, if a an area is too bland and needs to be perked up a bit, it can be glazed with a warm yellow, such as Aureolin, or red, such as Permanent Rose. Less important areas of the painting can be darkened with a glaze to help focus the eye on more important lighter areas.

If after glazing an area, the desired effect has not been achieved, let the paint dry and glaze it again.

Rather than using glazing as a method of correcting or modifying a painting, it is often used as a fundamental painting strategy. When used as the primary method of painting, layers are glazed over previously dried layers to achieve a desired color or value. Blue is glazed over yellow to optically mix a green. Red is painted over blue to create violet. Any color can be glazed over itself to create a darker value. When paints are placed on top of one another, they appear to emit a subtle, luminous, inner glow that cannot be achieved when the two paints are physically mixed and then applied to the paper.

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL GLAZING. Remember, for each rule, there is an artist who successfully breaks it.

1. Use dilute transparent watercolors applied in thin layers. Aureolin, Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue are ideal for glazing. (But some use opaque watercolors freely when they glaze. To make the opaque watercolors glaze well, they dilute the paint to a thin, watery consistency.)

2. Use opaque watercolors toward the final stages of your painting. Using opaque paints in the early stages runs the risk of creating mud or chalky washes. (However, some artists routinely use opaque Cadmium Yellow Pale and Cadmium Orange for the first two layers.)

3. Begin with your lightest paints, usually yellow, then add layers of progressively darker paints. Beginning with the lighter colors allows you the flexibility to modify and refine previous passages with a stronger wash later. (The method known as Grisaille reverses this order. Shadows are painted in gray first. Then glazes are added from lightest to darkest.)

4. Use a soft brush and a light hand when glazing. The paint should flow gently off the brush. Use very little pressure, so as not to disturb the underlying layers of paint.

5. If staining paints are used, they should be applied before non-staining paints. Staining paints sink into the paper and stain it rather than create a thin layer on top of the paper. In addition, they stain the paints underneath them as well as the paper. It is usually best to use them only in the initial washes.

6. Each layer should be thoroughly dry before the next layer is applied.

7. If after glazing, some of the underlying dark opaque colors that have been applied heavily become blurred, they can be reapplied after the glaze dries.

METHOD 1: First, layer warm opaque colors in various tints (Cadmium Yellow Pale and Cadmium Orange). Second, add warm transparent colors (Quinacridone Red and Alizarin Crimson). Third, layer cool colors in various tints (Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Green). Finally, layer darks (a mix of Burnt Sienna, Phthalo Blue and a touch of Alizarin Crimson).
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Paint opaque Cadmium Yellow Pale in various tints wherever there is actually yellow in the final painting and wherever yellow will influence another color. Yellow influences hues such as yellow-orange, yellow-green and is needed to dull a violet. Complete all of the yellow that will go into the finished painting, and then let it dry completely.
  • Paint opaque Cadmium Orange in various tints wherever there is actually orange in the final painting and wherever orange will influence another color, such a dulling a blue. Complete all of the orange that will go into the finished painting, and then let it dry completely.
  • Paint the reds, either Alizarin Crimson, Quinacridone Red or both, wherever red will be seen in the final picture and wherever red will be need to optically mix with another color. Apply red wherever there will be violet shadows, and allow to dry completely.
  • Paint various tints of both blues, Ultramarine and Phthalo Blue wherever there will be blue or violet in the final painting. Let dry.
  • Paint various tints of Phthalo Green. Let dry.
  • Paint the darkest shadows with a mixture of Phthalo Blue, Burnt Sienna, and a little Alizarin Crimson. Try to get the darkest colors right the first time. If you go back over the dark wash it will tend to streak. Apply tints of this same mixture on lighter shadows.


VARIATIONS: Substitute Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Payne's Gray, and Hooker's Green. (Yellow Ochre and Payne's Gray will make better yellow and blue if you add a lot of water. Burnt Sienna, on the other hand, will make a better red if only a little water is added.)

Rather than painting all of the yellow for the entire painting before proceeding to paint all of the orange for the entire painting, consider applying this process to one leaf at a time, one blossom at a time.

To read more about this method, see Light Up Your Watercolors Layer by Layer by Linda Stevens Moyer.

METHOD 2: Mask to preserve whites. Spray with water, then pour on cool atmospheric primaries (yellow first, then red on both sides of the yellow, and finally blue). Spritz with water, then spatter dark mixtures of warm primaries over the cool primaries. Spatter warm yellow over cool yellow, warm red over cool red, and warm blue over cool blue. Paint details. Remove mask and lift additional whites.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board that is only sightly larger than the paper, so that water and paint can easily flow off and into a container. Lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Dilute Maskoid 1/3 Maskoid and 2/3 water. Apply diluted Maskoid to the lightest areas with hemp rope attached to a brush handle or dowel, a piece of crumpled plastic wrap, a sponge, a sharpened stick, or a plastic sqeeze bottle with a .7mm tip.
  • Pour a cool yellow. Start at the light source, spray water on the area of the paper you want the cool yellow to flow over. Run the excess water off the opposite side of the paper. Pour a cool yellow (Winsor Lemon) over the wet paper. Gently guide the flow of the paint over and around the masking fluid with a spray bottle, your hand, or a brush. Run the excess paint off the paper, and wipe the edges to prevent back-runs. The yellow should cover 2/3 of the paper. Dry thoroughly.
  • Do two separate pourings of a cool red (Winsor Red), one on each side of the yellow light source. Spray clean water over the area to receive the first application of cool red. Pour and direct the paint as you did with the yellow. Let dry thoroughly. Repeat with the second pouring of cool red.
  • Pour a cool blue (Cobalt Blue) from the corner of the paper farthest from the light source. Spray clean water over the area to receive the cool blue. Pour and direct the paint as before. Let dry thoroughly.
  • Spatter warm primaries over the pourings of cool primaries. With towels, cover everything except the yellow part of the painting. Spritz a few drops of water on the paper. Spatter a thick mixture of a warm yellow (Aureolin) into the water. (Where the paint hits dry paper, hard edges will form. Where paint hits water droplets, soft edges will result.) Spritz more water over the spattered color to spread or soften it. Add salt, blot, lift. Let dry thoroughly.
  • Cover everything except the red part of the painting. Spritz and spatter with a thick mixture of a warm red (Cadmium Scarlet). Add texture and let dry thoroughly.
  • Cover everything except the blue part of the painting. Spritz and spatter with a thick mixture of a warm blue (Antwerp Blue). Add texture and let dry thoroughly.
  • Remove masking fluid. To soften the edges left by the mask, moisten a stiff brush, gently agitate the edge, then blot with a tissue.
  • Paint details with direct painting with warm primaries.
  • Pour additional blue over darkest corner.


To read more about this method, see Fill Your Watercolors with Light and Color by Roland Roycraft.

METHOD 3: Mask to preserve whites. Apply multiple washes in any order. Mask to preserve the color achieved after many washes. Apply additional washes. Remove masking fluid. Apply final washes. Add details.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and lay the board on a flat surface.
  • Mask out areas to preserve whites.
  • Apply clear water to the back of the watercolor paper. Flip the paper over and wet the front side also. The paper should not be sopping wet, but it should have an even sheen.
  • Apply a series of light glazes, drying each one before the next is added. (For one landscape painting with a dark foreground, middle-valued trees in the middle ground and light sky, Catherine laid down forty-three graded washes of Yellow Ochre, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, and French Ultramarine Blue. Each wash began with a band of light color along the bottom third of the paper and was then diluted with clear water as the strokes continued to the top.
  • Continue with many more glazes of Aureolin, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Permanent Rose, Violet, and French Ultramarine Blue, in no particular order.
  • Mask out areas where the color at this stage is to be preserved.
  • Lay in trees with a soft wash of Raw Sienna. Add more water as you work back into the distance.
  • Continue layering the foreground and trees with Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Umber, Sepia, French Ultramarine Blue, and Sap Green.
  • Add details in foreground and trees with direct painting.
  • After about 100 washes, remove the masking fluid and add final details.


To read more about this method, see Basic Watercolor Answer Book by Catherine Anderson.

METHOD 4: Wet transparent paint on dry paper. The first layer should be just a tint, with a value of 3 on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is the lightest. The board is inclined 45 degrees. Each stroke is blended with the bead from the previous stroke. The board is left inclined to dry. Each glaze is added in the same fashion.
  • Tape a 5 x 7 inch piece of 140lb or 300lb watercolor paper to a support board, and incline the board 45 degrees.
  • Mix a puddle of New Gamboge with a value of 3 on a scale of 10, with 1 being the lightest.
  • Dip your brush into the puddle, pick up a lot of paint, and lay a brush stroke across the top of the paper from left to right. (If there is enough water in the wash puddle, a bead of paint should form at the bottom of the stroke.)
  • Dip your brush back into the puddle, pick up lots of paint, and lay a second brush stroke across the paper, this time from right to left. As you move the brush lightly across the paper, overlap the bead formed at the base of the first stroke.
  • Repeat these alternating strokes down to the bottom of the wash area. (Once a stroke is down, do not go back into it. Do not try to improve it. Do not try to correct it.)
  • After the last stroke, squeeze our your brush between your fingers and soak up the excess paint at the bottom of the paper.
  • Leave the board inclined until the paint dries thoroughly.
  • Mix up a puddle of Permanent Rose that is slightly darker than the New Gamboge.
  • Glaze the Permanent Rose over the dry New Gamboge in the same manner as above.
  • Repeat the process, alternating between New Gamboge and Permanent Rose, until you are satisfied with the results. Remember to thoroughly dry each layer before the next is applied.


METHOD 5: Underpaint, overpaint, and lift out. Use mostly staining paints for the underpainting.

Underpainting

This section will contain various techniques for underpainting: painting the light, creating a focus of light, pouring light, etc.

Negative Painting ("painting behind")

As soon as you draw something on paper, you create a positive shape and a negative shape. The object you have drawn is the positive, and the area between it and the edge of the paper is the negative. The negative and positive shapes fit together like the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.

Negative painting requires a different way of seeing. Negative painting is painting the area around an object rather than painting the object itself. It is painting around a white area to reserve it. It is painting lace by painting the holes. It is depicting a river by painting the river bank beside it. It is creating the top of a rock by painting the dark green foliage above it. It is carving out the shape of a white daisy by painting the shadows behind it. It is painting bricks by painting the mortar between them. White, fluffy clouds are painted negatively when you paint the blue sky around them.

In both normal and negative watercolor painting, the artist generally proceeds from light to dark. However, in a normal watercolor painting, darker colors are applied over lighter colors, while in negative painting darker colors are painted beside the lighter colors.

Normally a watercolor painting proceeds from the back toward the front, painting the sky first, then adding the distant hills, near hills, and finally the foreground. Negative painting, on the other hand, starts with the foreground and paints the middle ground behind it, then paints the background last.

KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL NEGATIVE PAINTING
  • Apply a light-valued underpainting over the entire paper, prior to drawing the first positive shapes.
  • The most important key to success is to draw only one layer at a time, so you do not get lost in the process.
  • Draw only one or two positive shapes for the first layer. (If you create too many positive shapes in the first layer, it will be difficult to add enough layers to create a sense of depth.)
  • Apply negative painting in stages, allowing the paint to dry in between stages. With each successive layer, add new positive shapes to the composition.
  • The color you use to paint around a shape will be the underlying color of the next shape you define in the background.
  • How far you extend the paint beyond the shape you are saving is your choice. It could go a small distance or fill the remainder of the paper.
  • If you paint just a small distance beyond the positive shape, be sure to feather, soften, or fade out the edge before it dries.
  • Use light to medium values for each layer. (If you go dark too quickly, a sense of depth is lost.)
  • Use transparent paints when many layers are involved.
  • Paint the negative space around the shapes on the first level.
  • Dilute the paint as you move to the edge of the paper.
  • Let dry after painting each level.
  • Draw positive shapes for the second level. These shapes will be behind or under the shapes on the first level.
  • Paint the negative space around the positive shapes on both levels. Do not paint inside or over any positive shape; paint around them instead.
  • Remember to paint the small captured negative spaces between the positive shapes.
  • When all layers are completed, decide whether you want to add details and shadows or leave the negative painting as it is.


METHOD 1: Paint a series of simple negative shapes.
  • Draw a circle on a piece of watercolor paper. (The area within the circle is the positive space; the area outside the circle is the negative space.)
  • Paint the negative space around the circle. Paint all the way to the edge of the paper. Let the paint dry.
  • Draw a second circle, tucked behind the first circle. (The first circle will appear to overlap the second.)
  • Paint the negative space around both circles with a darker value of the same color. Do not paint inside either circle.


METHOD 2: Homogeneous layers: one color per layer, laid down evenly across the surface of the paper.
  • Decide whether you are going to change value, hue, or intensity with each level.
  • If you are going to change value, you could start with a light value of Cerulean Blue, add a second layer of Cobalt Blue, glaze a third layer with Ultramarine Blue, and end with the darkest blue, Phthalo Blue.
  • If you are gong to change hue, you could begin with Cadmium Yellow on the first level, then change to Cadmium Orange, Quinacridone Magenta, and finally Cerulean Blue on each of the subsequent layers.
  • If you are going to change intensity, begin with an underpainting of Cadmium Yellow. Then neutralize the Cadmium Yellow with a touch of Cobalt Violet and paint the second layer. Neutralize the mixture with even more Cobalt Violet and paint the third layer. Finish, by adding Black to the mixture for the final layer.


METHOD 3: Multicolored layers: two or more colors per layer, applied wet-into-wet and allowed to blend.
  • Apply a light-valued wet-into-wet wash of two or three colors, such as Cerulean Blue, Burnt Sienna and a touch of Phthalo Green.
  • Draw a shape on the dry underpainting.
  • Wet the paper except for the positive shape.
  • Drop in more of the colors used in the underpainting. Tilt the paper back and forth to encourage the paint to flow and mix. Allow the painting to dry.
  • Draw a second shape behind the first.
  • Wet the negative space around and between the two shapes.
  • Drop in more of the colors used in the underpainting. This time the paint should have slightly less water and more pigment than the previous glaze. As you work out from the shapes, add more water to the paint to diffuse the strength of color and reduce the value.
  • Draw a third shape behind the other two.
  • Wet the negative space around and between the three shapes.
  • Drop in more of the colors used in the underpainting. This time apply a dark glaze in a selected area and use paint of a lighter value in other, or dilute the dark color with clear water as you work around the remaining shapes. Some areas may be left without further glazing at this stage.


METHOD 4: Paint flowers with negative painting.
  • Create an underpainting of Raw Sienna and Permanent Rose; let dry.
  • Draw a flower shape....four irregular petals would do. (This flower will end up being the center of interest; place it appropriately.)
  • Paint the area immediately around the flower shape with a mixture of Raw Sienna and Permanent Rose. Fade this into the background with a damp brush.
  • Draw two more flower shapes behind the first.
  • Paint around and between all three flowers with the same mixture of Raw Sienna and Permanent Rose. Fade this layer also into the background with a damp brush.
  • Draw two more flower shapes behind the other three. Add some stems.
  • Paint around the stems and all five flowers with a mixture of Raw Sienna, Permanent Rose, and a touch of Sap Green. Fade into background with a damp brush.
  • Paint some positive shapes, leaves and stems, in the background.
  • Model the interior of the flowers with a pale Permanent Rose slightly dulled with Sap Green.
  • Add cast shadows with Permanent Rose cooled with Cobalt Blue.


For more information on this method, see The Watercolorist's Essential Notebook by Gordon MacKenzie

METHOD 5: Weaving layers of trees.
  • Apply a light-valued wet-into-wet underpainting.
  • Draw two trees on the first layer (those closest and nearest the bottom). Start the base of the trunk a short distance above the bottom of the paper.
  • Apply a thin glaze around the tree forms. Start at the base of the tree trunk and paint all the way to the top and the right and left edges. Be sure to paint the negative spaces between the intertwining branches.
  • Draw narrower trees behind the first two. Start the trunks higher up the paper than the first two.
  • Apply a thin glaze around the tree forms on both layers. Do not paint over any branches. Paint only the negative spaces. Do not glaze below the base of the trunks on the second level. Pull the color all the way to the top and sides of the paper.
  • Draw a third layer of trees behind the others. Once again, the trunks of this layer should start higher than the second layer. The trunks and branches should be narrower than those on the previous layer.
  • Apply a darker thin glaze around the tree forms on all three layers. Do not glaze below the base of the trunks on the third level.


METHOD 6: Build a landscape from grass in the foreground to sky in the background.
  • Apply a light-valued underpainting. Let dry.
  • Dry brush the texture for the grass along the bottom of the paper. Let dry.
  • Negative paint the top edge of the grass. With a darker-valued mixture, dry brush the top of the grass. Extend this color toward to the top of the paper, diluting with water as you go.
  • Define the top edge of a second layer of grass. With a still darker mixture and a flat brush, create a jagged edge. Extend this new layer of color toward the top of the paper.
  • Continue in the same manner, carving out one layer at a time and pulling the color toward the top of the paper. Create separate layers for bushes, trees, and hills.
  • At this stage, the top of the painting may be getting quite dark because of the number of glazes. There are several options for introducing lighter layers.
    • Moisten the next negative space, and gently scrub the area with a bristle brush. Blot up the paint that has been lifted.
    • Glaze over the area that has been lifted.
    • Paint the last negative space with white gouache tinted with a light-valued color.


For more information on this method read Watercolor: painting outside the lines by Linda Kemp.

Priming

Priming method of Susan Harrison-Tustain.

1. Wet the entire area you want to work on.
2. Allow the paper to absorb the water just until the sheen has gone from the surface.
3. Wet the entire area again. (The amount of water used at this stage depends on the effect you are after).
4. Before the paper dries, add the pigmented under wash. Gently dab your paint-loaded brush against the wet paper, letting the water draw the pigment out of the brush. Apply fewer layers of under wash on areas exposed to the sun. Apply more layers of under wash on areas that will be in shadow.
5. Let dry before continuing.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 for each layer of under wash, the early layers of multipigmented washes, and some washes of shadow. ("As the work progresses and the density of color reaches the richness I desire, I then need more control. This is achieved by gradually reducing the amount of moisture. There are times when the final application of pigment is drybrushed on.")
To create shadow colors, start with the local color, add a small amount of its complement, then add a small amount of blue.
Susan uses Arches 140-lb hot-pressed paper. This priming method allows the water to penetrate the hard surface and moisten the middle layers of the paper. Priming these underlayers allows the liquid on the surface to stay wet and workable longer. This method also allows the pigment to soak into the paper rather than sitting on top. Subsequent washes can then be added without disturbing the earlier washes.


Priming for soft edges.

1. Wet the entire area you want to work on, allowing the water to extend past the edge you need to soften.
2. Let this wash be absorbed until it is almost dry (slightly cool to the touch).
3. Redampen only the area you wish to be pigmented. Gently stroke your paint-loaded brush along the edge you want to remain soft. As the paper is slightly damp past this edge, the pigmented wash will gently blend into the damp area, giving a soft, muted margin.


Priming and blending backgrounds.

This technique works for background areas that are large and difficult to keep wet.

1. Wet the entire area of the background you want to work on.
2. Lay in a rich wash of transparent yellow. Let dry.
3. Wet the entire area again. Extend the clear water wash beyond the area you want pigmented. Let dry until the sheen is just starting to disappear.
4. Think of the background as three separate areas. Rewet the left and right areas, leaving the middle area damp from the first wash.
5. Add pigment to the left area and then the right area. A soft margin will be formed at their intersections with the middle area. Let these two areas dry.
6. Rewet the center area, extending the water well into the areas on either side.
7. Add pigment to the center area, allowing it to flare over the two previously pigmented areas.
8. Build up depth by adding additional washes, using the same process and allowing the washes to dry between layers.


Susan's book is Glorious Garden Flowers in Watercolor, 751.4224 HARRISO 1999

Spattering

Spattering is flicking small, irregularly shaped spots of paint onto dry paper. (If you spatter on wet paper, the spots will diffuse and disappear.) This speckled texture is created by stroking a toothbrush, bristle brush or hog hair fan brush, by striking a watercolor brush against a rigid object, or by blowing through a painted screen.

If you do not want to get paint on your hands, use a rubber glove or finger cot.

METHOD 1: Spatter with a toothbrush and a pencil.
First prepare a paint mixture of a creamy consistency. Dip an old toothbrush into the paint. Next, holding a pencil or other small stick approximately 2 inches from and parallel to your paper, push the bristles of the toothbrush across the top of the stick and away from you. A fine spatter will fall on your paper. Repeat the process, always pushing the toothbrush away from you.

METHOD 2: Spatter with a toothbrush and your thumb.
Dip an old toothbrush in a puddle of paint and flick the bristles with your thumb. The more vigorous the flicking action and the higher above the paper you hold the toothbrush, the more wide flung the pattern will be. A wetter, more fully loaded brush will create bigger sized specks. The toothbrush method is wild, so cover areas and objects you don't want spotted. This method often results in a strong directional pattern.

METHOD 3: Spatter with a flat bristle brush and your finger.
Load a stiff bristle brush with paint mixed to a creamy consistency. Place the brush parallel to the paper and about 2 inches above it. Stroke upward on the bristles with your finger.

METHOD 4. Spatter with a number 5 oil painting hog hair fan brush and your finger tips.
Hold your hand, palm up, about 2 inches from the surface of the paper. Point your fingers toward the area you want to spatter. Stroke the fan brush vigorously across your finger tips, flicking the paint onto the paper. Tony van Hasselt recommends never cleaning the old paint out of your stippling fan brush. The caked paint gives the brush more snap than a clean brush. (http://www.tonyvanhasselt.com/tips/tips.htm)

METHOD 5: Spatter with a round or flat watercolor brush flicked off your finger tip.
Position your finger, fingernail side down, above the paper. Point the tip of your finger toward the spot you wish to spatter. Stroke the brush vigorously across your finger tip. If your finger is close to the paper, the spattered area will be small. As you raise your finger higher above the paper, the spattered area increases. A flat brush creates a wide pattern, while a round brush makes a narrow stripe.

METHOD 6: Spatter by striking a watercolor brush against a rigid object.
Load a brush with paint of a creamy consistency. Hold a pencil, a small stick, or your finger parallel to and approximately 2 inches from your watercolor paper. Now strike the loaded brush against the stick using one firm downward stroke. Lift and strike down again. (Round brushes will create a different effect than flat brushes.)

METHOD 7: Spatter with Cheap Joe's Round Spatter Screen.
Cover the areas of the painting that you do not want to be spattered. Apply one or more colors directly to a fine-meshed screen. Position the painted screen above the area to be spattered, and blow through the screen. For more information on this method of spattering, see Spattering Techniques with Joe Miller, a DVD from cheapjoes.com.

VARIATIONS:
  • Spatter the area with clear water first. Then spatter the paint on top of the irregular water pattern. This will result in hard edges where the paint lands on dry paper and soft edges where the paint lands on water.
  • Spatter clear water onto a layer of dark paint that is still damp. Small blossoms will be created that resemble the effect of sprinkling salt into wet paint.
  • Spatter opaque white watercolor paint or gouache.
  • Rather than spattering fine spots of paint, try splattering or flinging larger quantities of wet, juicy paint at the paper.
  • Spatter liquid frisket, then after the frisket has dried, spatter paint.
  • After spattering an area with paint, and while the paint is still wet, spatter the area with clear water.
  • Spatter dark paint into a light, moist area. The result will be darker, soft-edged spots.
  • While a spattered area is still wet, spray the area with clear water. Then with a brush, drag some spots into adjacent spots to create larger shapes.
  • Spatter one color and let dry. Spatter a second color.
  • Spatter one color and, while still wet, spatter a second color. Let the colors merge.


SPATTERING IN ACTION with John Koser
  1. Sketch on watercolor paper.
  2. Apply a high key underwash of primary colors.
  3. Mask out the lightest areas with liquid frisket.
  4. Trace main shapes of the drawing onto tracing paper and transfer to a mat board.
  5. Cut out the major shapes from the mat board with a utility knife, bevel the edges with a razor blade, and waterproof each piece with clear acrylic spray.
  6. Reassemble the pieces of mat board over the watercolor paper.
  7. Remove the piece of mat board over the area you want to paint first.
  8. Spatter water onto the exposed area.
  9. Spatter primary colors onto the exposed area, beginning with the yellows, then the reds, and finally the blues. Let the wet paints mingle on their own. (Several applications of paint, in the same sequence, may be needed to build up the hue, value, intensity, and shape appropriate for that area).
  10. When the area is finished, let it dry, then cover that area with the mat board.
  11. Remove the piece of mat board over the area you want to paint next.
  12. Spatter water, yellows, reds, and then blues as before. Vary the proportions of each color to achieve the appropriate hue and value for the area.
  13. Remove all the mat board pieces and evaluate the value, intensity, and color of the two areas.
  14. Reassemble the mat board and remove the third piece and proceed as before, spattering water, yellow, red, and then blues.
  15. After all the areas are painted, remove all the mat board resists and the masking fluid.
  16. Lightly spatter the white areas with diluted paint to integrate them with the rest of the painting.
  17. Finally, refine the painting where necessary with a brush. At this stage, light glazes over paint speckled areas can be added.


NOTES: In each area the sequence is the same: water, yellow, red, and then blue. Sometimes Winsor Green was added as well. No mixing is done on the palette. The pigments mingle on the wet surface of the watercolor paper to produce the secondary and tertiary colors. The amount of water and of each color depends on the value and the color of that area. The dominance of certain colors mixed on the paper produces the appropriate color for that area (blue sky, green hills, brown walls). Use trial patches on a separate sheet of paper to ascertain the appropriate color mixtures before applying them to the painting. As the paint for each section dries, lift and scrape where appropriate. The direction of the spatter is an important consideration for each section. The effect could be accomplished with tape and paper instead of mat board.

To learn more about this procedure, read Watercolor: Red, Yellow, Blue by John R. Koser.

Sponging

In addition to wetting the paper and lifting paint, sponges can be used for applying washes, dragging paint, building up shapes like trees, mountains, and bushes. Sponges can also be used to dab on a whole range of exciting textures to a rock, a brick or stucco wall, bark, a rough path, or wherever a mottle effect is needed.

There is a wide range of sponges to choose from, each with their own distinct characteristics. Natural sponges range from those with loose texture and widely spaced irregular holes to those with a dense texture. Synthetic sponges have a more even texture which produces a finer, more regular mark than natural sponges.

Experiment with artists' natural sea sponges, cosmetic sponges, synthetic kitchen sponges, automotive sponges, sponges attached to rollers, or even foam paint brushes. Each will have several unique surfaces that result in a wide variety of patterns and textures. Use the sponge as it is or cut and tear it into smaller, irregular shapes.

Sponges can be used to create texture in a variety of ways.
  • one color dabbed on plain white paper
  • one color dabbed on a dry, paler background wash of the same color
  • one color dabbed on a contrasting dry background wash
  • two different colors blended together wet on dry
  • one wet color dabbed onto a different wet background wash
  • a series of colors from light to dark, drying after each layer


In each case, remember the principle of repetition with variation. Avoid boring repetitive patterns by frequently changing direction and by using different sides of the sponge.

CAUTION: Wear a rubber glove to keep your fingers clean and to avoid toxic chemicals in some of the paints.

METHOD 1: Apply paint to sponge surface only. Cut synthetic kitchen sponges into shapes and apply paint to them with a brush so that the crevices are paint-free.

METHOD 2: Thoroughly saturate the sponge with paint.
  • Wet the sponge and squeeze out all excess water.
  • Dip the sponge in a puddle of paint you have created in the mixing area of your palette. Thoroughly saturate the sponge with the paint.
  • Gently touch the loaded sponge to the watercolor paper.
  • As you dab paint on the paper, use different areas of the sponge to avoid boring repetitive shapes.


METHOD 3: Lay a flat wash with a sponge. Some artists prefer a sponge to a brush for laying washes. Wet paper. Saturate sponge with paint. Drag the sponge across the paper with overlapping strokes.

METHOD 4: Build up the shape of a tree.
  • Begin with a loose sketch of a tree shape.
  • Prepare a creamy puddle of light green in your palette (If the mixture is too wet, it will result in dense blobs, rather than loose shapes that suggest individual leaves.)
  • Touch the surface of the puddle, and transfer the paint to the paper with a light stamping motion. (Pick up a lot of paint. One trip to the palette is probably good for three or four stampings before reloading.)
  • Repeat, using different areas of the sponge to prevent design repetition. Leave some open areas to keep your tree airy.
  • Allow sufficient drying time before dabbing on the next layer.
  • Prepare a middle-value green.
  • Stamp with this mixture, favoring the shadow sides of the leaf masses. Be careful not to cover all of the lighter green layer.
  • Add trunk and limbs that will be most visible in the less leafy areas.
  • Use a mixture of your darkest green to accent some of the darker shapes.


METHOD 5: background trees Sponge lighter values onto slightly damp paper to get the soft fusing of distant tree shapes.

METHOD 6: Sweeping motion Apply watercolor paint to a slightly damp natural sponge and gently sweep across dry paper. Apply a second color and paint next to the first. This is a great way to texture old crocks and vases. A little toothbrush spatter would create a pottery-like texture. It's a good way to render old barn boards, too.

METHOD 7: Spread paint by dragging the sponge.

Stippling

Stippling is the technique of using a series of small marks of one color to simulate gradations of light and shade. The denser the spacing of the marks, the darker the apparent shade. These monochromatic marks may be dots or short strokes.

Stippling one dot at a time can be accomplished with a Rapid-o-graph pen, a quill-tip pen, or a fine-tipped brush. Care should be taken to approach and leave the paper at 90 degrees. If the pen or brush is pulled to one side, 'tails' form on each dot.

Various brushes have been designed to apply several dots at a time. The deerfoot stippler is the traditional stippling brush. A stencil brush can also be used. Terry Harrison (terryharrison.com) offers several stippling brushes. The Fan Stippler is a blend of hair and fine bristle. The Golden Leaf and the Golden Foliage brushes are designed to stipple trees and bushes. Because these brushes are made from bristle and hair, when the hair is wet it curls and separates the bristles, making them ideal for stippling. (Read Terry's book Brush with Watercolour: Painting landscapes the easy way.

In fact, almost any brush can be used to stipple if it is squeezed to remove excess water, dipped in paint with a creamy consistency, then held vertically over the paper, with the bristle tips pointing directly down, and lightly dabbed onto the paper.

A stippled effect can also be accomplished with a brush that is designed to clean fingernails.

Other methods of accomplishing a stippled effect include a spray bottle, mouth atomizer, spattering with a stiff brush, and Cheap Joe's Round Spatter Screen.

Pointillism is similar to stippling, but it involves marks of different colors to simulate blended colors. (See the works of Georges Seurat and his followers in late 19th-century France.)

The success of both stippling and pointillism relies on the separateness of each mark; the colors and tones should blend together in the viewer's eye rather than physically on the paper.

Watercolors using stippling or pointillism are generally built up from light to dark, with highlights left white or only lightly covered so that the white ground shows through, while dark areas are built up gradually with increasingly dense brush marks.

Use a paper mask to protect areas that will not be stippled. For example, protect the sky with a paper mask when stippling a roof.

Pouring

Pouring watercolors by Jan Fabian Wallake.

Stretching:
1. Soak paper in room-temperature water for 15 [~] 20 minutes.
2. Place wet paper face-up (with the watermark readable) on Homasote Board which accepts staples easily. Homasote Board can be purchased at Bellingham Millwork Supply, 3879 Hannigan Rd. NOTE: Jan does not use Homasote for anything larger than 15" x 22" (half sheet) because it tends to warp when it gets very wet. She also recommends that you not leave your paper atatched to the board for very long as it is not acid free.
3. Using a regular office stapler, place 4 staples close together about 1/2 inch from one of the edges. Go to the opposite side, stretch the paper slightly and place 4 more staples. (A ripple will form in the center). Place 4 staples on one of the remaining two sides. Go to the last side, stretch the paper and place 4 more staples. Stretch one of the corners and staple. Go to the opposite corner, stretch and staple. Repeat with last two corners. Staple every 2 inches all the way around the paper. Let dry.


Once paper is dry, tape masking tape over staples and onto the Homasote board. This creates a dam, keeping the glazes on the paper and preventing the paint from going over the edge and then seeping underneath.

Sketch:
Work out problems of design. Sketch some elements on smaller pieces of paper so they can be moved to different locations as you experiment with the composition. Use graphite paper to transfer drawing to watercolor paper.

Identify areas to be left white:
Mask out areas where you want to preserve the white or avoid those areas as you tilt the board to guide the flow of paint. Consider leaving some white area around the center of interest and some random paths of white leading out to two or three of the edges.

Analogous colors:
Do a color sketch. Use analogous colors[~]those next to each other on the color wheel (yellow, orange, red, for example). Than add a complementary color as an accent (blue or blue-green).

Containers:
Plastic cups that come with laundry detergent. When done with a painting, let the water evaporate out of the cups, stack them on top of each other and store. When it's time to paint again, re-liquify by spraying in some water and stirring with a brush.

Techniques:
1. Mix colors to a light creamy consistency.
2. With a spray bottle, wet the part of the paper that will receive the first glaze. Have a sponge ready to clean up any water that spills. Let excess water flow into a water container. Drain it until it stops flowing. As soon as it stops dripping, you're ready to start pouring.
3. Pour on first color. Tip board to control where the glaze goes. Spray areas that don't flow well, areas that you want lighter, or spray off the entire color, if you don't like it. Drain excess back into the paint container. Lay flat and let dry.
4. Preserve part of the first wash, Brush clean water along the border where you want the second wash to stop. Then spray clean water over the rest of the area that will receive the second wash. Drain excess water into water bucket. Lay flat and let dry.
5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 on another area.
6. Add complementary colors.
7. Paint remaining areas with a brush.
8. Remove masking fluid and paint those areas.


Tips:
1. Spray beyond the area you want to glaze. This preserves a soft edge.
2. If there is something you don't like, spray it off. If it's too dark, spray it. If it's not flowing well, spray it. If there's a hard edge you don't want, spray it.
3. Add detail with dip pen. (Load dip pen with brush).
4. If you want a hard edge for the edge of a building, brush clear water along the edge and then spray the rest of the area.
5. Spray irregular drops, drop color into individual drops, tip board to encourage runs.
6. Place a full sheet of watercolor paper with the watermark up. Put a small x on each corner of the sheet before tearing it into smaller pieces. This way you can easily tell which side is up, even on the pieces that have no watermark.
7. Decide on the color of the center of interest first. Preserve this area to be painted later. Select the complement of this color to be poured around the area of interest. Then choose two colors that are analogous to the complement. You can proceed either clockwise or counter-clockwise around the color wheel. For example, if the center of interest will be red, its complement will be green. Analogous colors could be green, blue and violet or green, yellow and orange.
8. To separate objects from the colorful washes, use darker values of the same color as that region of the wash. For example, the part of a flower that is on a blue part of the wash would be delineated with a darker blue color. The part of the flower the is on a violet part of the wash would be delineated with a darker violet color.

Read her book: Watercolor Pour It On.

Spraying with a Spray Bottle

Using 2oz Pump Spray Bottles.
There are two types of pump spray bottles: misting and spitting. Misting is effective when you want a smooth, even effect. Most of the time irregular dots of color are more desirable. Holbein pump spray bottles are spitters. They are available from Dakota Art for $1.50 each.

These bottles can be used to spray clear water, pigment or frisket.

Mixing Paint.
Start with 1" of water in the 2 ounce bottle. Squeeze in 1" of pigment from a 5 ml tube. Shake well. Prime the pump before spraying on painting. (Pump the plunger a couple of times while pointed into your dirty water container.)Spray from 2" to 5" from paper. To get the irregular dots from Holbein's spray bottles, just tap the plunger rather than pushing it all the way down. (Different effects can be achieved by spraying closer, farther, harder, softer, quicker, slower and by pressing the nozzle half way down).

Examples.
Various colors can be layered on while wet or allow each layer to dry first.
Spray paint through a paper doily.
Spray irregular drops of clear water. Paint tree branches through the water drops.
Spray clear water over colorful first wash while wet to create texture.
Spray clear water on some wet painted edges to soften them.
Spray a variety of light and dark colors to create the impression of leaves.
While leaves are still wet, spray with clear water to merge colors.
Spray colors for leaves, then draw branches through the wet pigment.
Spray a mist of blue around corners of painting to help it recede into the background.
Spray on frisket. Let dry and spray on colors for leaves.
Using a heavy sheet of paper as a shield, spray blue to create the shadow of rays of light.
Cover the sky with a towel, sheet of paper or frisket, then spray the water with cobalt blue to create water with sparkle.
Spray through a stencil.
Along the line between the land and the water, lay down a narrow band of colors that correspond to the colors above. Then, with the paper inclined, spray clear water over the colors and let them run and mix, creating the sense of reflections.


Cleanup.
Be sure to rinse out the nozzle by spraying clean water immediately after use.

Spraying with a Mouth Atomizer

A mouth atomizer consists of two hinged tubes that are used to spray paint onto watercolor paper. The longer tube with the smaller diameter is placed into the liquid to be sprayed. The shorter tube with the larger diameter is blown into by the mouth. Some models have a black plastic mouthpiece, other models are bare metal on both ends. Using the mouth atomizer takes some practice. The two tubes should be held at approximately right angles to each other, forming an upside down "L" shape.

Squeeze about 1 inch of paint into a baby-food jar. Fill the jar with water, leaving a little space at the top. Shake vigorously until there is no more paint stuck to the bottom of the jar.

Leave the watercolor paper flat on the table. Protect all areas of the painting except the region that will be painted with the spray. (See Using a Mouth Atomizer with Frisket Film.)

Place the longer tube into the paint in the baby-food jar. Adjust the angle of the two tubes so that they are approximately perpendicular to each other. Blow into the shorter tube. An atomizer throws a spray path about 12" wide when held 18" to 24" away from the paper.

Each mouth atomizer performs differently. Some work without much force, with others you have to blow very hard. Some throw big dots of paint; others create various-sized dots. Generally, the harder you blow, the smaller the dots.  The angle between the two tubes is critical; play with the alignment a bit until you get it right. Experiment with clear water on a scrap piece of paper before starting a painting.

Do no more than three or four sprays before you let everything dry. Otherwise the little dots will merge and blend into an undesirable mottled texture.

Mouth atomizers range in cost from $5 to Pat Dews atomizer that sells for $25 from larrysart.com. Mark Mehaffey has prepared a DVD on using a mouth atomizer. It is available from ccpvideos.com and amazon.com.


Using a Mouth Atomizer with Frisket Film. Draw a full-size sketch on heavy tracing paper. Darken the lines with a 5B pencil. Remove paper backing on frisket film and lay the film, sticky side down, on the tracing paper drawing. Smooth out bubbles and wrinkles. Use a large spoon or credit card to burnish the lines and help pick up the graphite. Peel the frisket film off the tracing paper and lay the film, sticky side down, onto the watercolor paper. Smooth out. Your drawing should be visible through the film. With a sharp craft knife, cut out the shapes of the areas that are to be the darkest. Spray the exposed areas with Phthalo blue and let dry. Spray the same areas with Alizarin Crimson and let dry. Cut out the shapes of the next darkest areas. Spray these exposed areas with layers of Phthalo blue, Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium yellow. Continue in this manner, cutting out progressively lighter areas. The last frisket film to be removed will be the areas that will be white in the final painting.

Stamping

Stamping is putting paint on something and pressing that something onto your painting. The stamping material could be almost anything, but here are a few examples: fish, potato, lemon slice, cucumber slice, pencil eraser, leather, lace, burlap, leaves, grass, your finger, waded up facial tissue, a sponge, a wad of gauze, cotton ball, Q-tip, flower petal, string, net-covered sponge, fern, mat board, razor blade, credit card, palette knife, corrugated cardboard.

Paint a heavy coating of watercolor paint on the side of the object to be stamped and while it's still wet, press it onto the paper. Test the process on scratch paper to see if the first or send print comes out the clearest. It will vary with the object.

Stamping with a limp object like lace
  • Paint one side of the lace.
  • Place the painted side down on your paper.
  • Cover the lace with one or two paper towels, and press down. (Make sure the lace beneath does not move.)
  • Lift the towel and the lace from the paper.


Stamping foliage with a sea sponge
  • Dip the sponge in water and wring out until barely damp.
  • Dip the damp sponge into a prepared puddle of paint on your palette, blot it lightly on a paper towel and press it gently to the watercolor paper. Make firm contact, but don't press so hard that the raised areas of the sponge are compressed.
  • Begin by printing the lightest values (yellow and yellow ochre)
  • Let the first colors dry, then overlap them with the next darkest color value (burnt sienna) Let the first layer show through
  • Let the second color dry, then print a shadow color in the areas opposite the sunlight (burnt sienna mixed with sap green)
  • With a small round brush, add some branches and some leaf shapes along the lower edges of the foliage clumps.


Stamping with a leaf.

Select a leaf with a prominent veining pattern on the back. Add color to the vein side of the leaf, then turn the leaf over and place the painted vein side down on your paper. Press it down with a clean, folded paper towel. Lift the towel and leaf from the paper.

If the leaf has a waxy surface, paint a thin layer of dish soap on the underside. It will help the paint adhere and not bead on the leaf. Paint over the soap on the underside of the leaf with one or more colors. Analogous colors work best because they will not merge into muddy tones, but will blend naturally into each other. A creamy consistency will produce a good imprint.

Stamping with a shape cut out of mat board.

Cut a shape out of mat board. Attach a piece of tape to the back of the shape to act as a handle. Hold the shape by the tape handle and apply paint to the other side. Stamp the painted shape onto the watercolor paper.

Stamping with the edge of mat board, edge of watercolor paper, or folded paper

Dip the edge of the applicator into a puddle of paint or use a paint brush to apply the paint to the edge. Stamp the applicator onto the watercolor paper. For curved lines, bend the paper and print.

Scumbling

Scumbling is the technique of applying an uneven layer of color with a bristle brush over an already dry underlayer so that the first color shows through to some extent. The unevenness is achieved by applying thick, undiluted paint with irregular brush strokes that are described as a combination of pushing, thrashing, scrubbing, smudging, twisting, patting, dabbing, dragging, or applying paint with a circular motion.

Because of watercolor's natural transparency, it is generally best to scumble dark colors over light. If white is mixed with any light-valued watercolor paint, the opaque mixture can be scumbled over dark colors.

The rough texture of a rock can be achieved by scumbling the previously painted shape with undiluted Sepia.

The effect of trampled snow can be created by scumbling a white area with a very thick, dry mixture of antwerp Blue and Payne's Gray.

To create the appearance of a weathered plaster wall, scumble on rough washes of a mix of yellow ocher, ivory black, and white gouache. While the paint is still wet, use the palm of your hand and the edge of the brush to lift off color in patches.

Scumble in foliage with a mix of Hooker's green and a touch of Vandyke brown.

Creative Applicators

In addition to watercolor brushes, paint can also be applied with a variety of objects: sticks, crumpled paper, palette knife, credit card, feather, foam brushes, foam craft rollers, bamboo pen, quill pen, dip pen, a piece of mat board that can stamp on straight lines or drag the paint, etc.

© 2009 Scott Brown. Website design by Clarion Design.