An inventory of watercolor painting techniques

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Graded wash: Paint an area with water. Paint across the top with a color. It will flow down when your paper is lifted, getting gradually lighter towards the bottom. Add more color to the top and more water to the bottom. Gradually paint upwards with the water until it just touches the edge of the color. 
Color on color: After creating a solid wash, dab a different color on top of the,  still wet, paint. Do not mix these colors, just let the existing water on the paper blur the edges. 
 
Dry brush: Take a couple of practice swipes with your brush on scrap paper. Your brush and paper both need to be dry. You should see a scratchy texture on the paper.  Lift the brush slightly at the end to enhance thie effect. 
Solid wash: Mix your color ahead of time, add water to the paint, wet your brush and then paint the solid color of wet paint on an area of dry paper. 
 
Lifting: Wrap a dry paper towel around your finger and tap the wet areas of your painting to lift up the color. Great for clouds. 
 
Wet on wet: paint water on your paper with a square shader brush. Take another brush and paint on top of the wet area with color. The color will spread to form interesting patterns
 
MORE ADVANCED TECHNIQUES NOT PICTURED ABOVE
 
Layering: Come back to a painting after it is dry and use a different technique on top of an area you have already painted. For example, use a dry brush over an already dry area where you used the wet on wet technique earlier.
 
Glazing: Use thin transparent washes repeatedly to build up depth in your painting. Allow the painting to dry in between each layer of glaze. Create a glaze by mixing a color with water and painting it on a scrap paper over a pencil scribble. If you can still see the entire scribble the glaze is transparent. If the scribble is hard to see, add more water to your paint. 
 
The last two techniques are time consuming but can be very beautiful. Some artists are able to make their watercolors look almost like oil paintings by building up coats of clear glaze and layering a dry bush over a wash.


Young Hare, Watercolor, 

by Albrecht Dürer, 1505
 

Paul Cézanne 

French, 1839-1906
Trees (Arbres)
c.1900, Watercolor on paper, 
The Barnes Foundation 
Cézanne never used white paint in his watercolors. Instead he skillfully incorporated the luminous white of the paper itself into his compositions.
Paul Cezanne frequently used layers of color, allowing each coat to dry in between washes, to add depth to his watercolor paintings.

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