Watercolour Techniques

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I use a variety of watercolour techniques and a wide variety of media to create my artwork and designs.

Many watercolour techniques are easy to do and are very effective. I use watercolour techniques in both my various sketchbooks, (some of these have watercolour paper, sometimes just cartridge paper. Painting in my garden or in my studio I use stretched watercolour paper on drawing boards.

I will often have a few paintings on the go at the same time so that I am not tempted to overwork the colour as this often makes it a bit sludgy and the colours lose their sparkle and translucency.

I will show images of some techniques and try to explain how they work succinctly.

The first technique is a simple effect using rock salt

This sample was created on watercolour paper which had been stretched on a drawing board. I first washed colour over the paper and then immediately dropped rock salt onto the wet paint. The paint and rock salt must be left to dry so that the technique is more successful. As you can see the salt attracts the pigment and gives ares of intense colour.Table salt can be used and this gives a more delicate texture.

Table salt

The painting above was painted on cartridge paper in a very reasonably priced A4 sketchbook from Seawhite, Brighton. I created it by washing on different colours using a one inch wide flat watercolour brush. I did wet the paper first with clean water using a flat Hake brush. Once I was happy with the bands of colour, (working from a photograph I had taken based on beach and sea). I then sprinkled table salt in different densities applying more at the bottom and less at the top as the colour deepens in the sea and then lightens on the horizon. It is important to leave the salt to dry completely and then gently brush it away. The table salt gives a delicate effect and gives a lovely texture.

The second watercolour technique is the use of masking fluid

watercolour, watercolour techniques, masking fluid, texture, tone, paint

The example above was painted on stretched watercolour paper, first a wash of watered down Payne’s Grey and left to dry completely. It is very important that the paint is left to fully dry before adding the masking fluid image as it will not work and possibly destroy the surface of the paper.

Once the surface is dry the masking fluid can be applied. I tend to use the dip pen rather than a paint brush as brushes can be easily damaged. If you do use a brush wash it out in warm soapy water as soon as the masking fluid is applied. I like to use a dip pen as you can create a wide variety of lines and marks. Masking fluid can be purchased with its own fine applicator which when the fluid is fresh works beautifully. However if the fluid is old lumps sometimes form and these can block the nozzle. Once the masking fluid is fully dry, (do be patient ) a second layer of paint can be added. I used a mix of Payne’s Grey and a blue/green. Again leave the paint to fully dry, do not be tempted to try and rub the masking fluid off too soon as it will possibly take the surface of the paper off. The masking fluid is a liquid latex and once it is applied and dried it can be gently rubbed away. In this instance the effect is to leave a tone on tone image, however this is only one technique with masking fluid. There are many others to try and I find that once you have mastered the basics it is best just to experiment and see which are successful. I write detailed notes on each watercolour technique or any other technique so that I can refer back to them in the future.

Watercolour techniques are very varied and the next one is very simple.

scratching, watercolour, watercolour techniques, The sample above was painted on watercolour paper, I have been using up some old cheap Bockingford paper which I stretched on a drawing board. I used a mix of blue and green artists quality watercolour paint and whilst it was wet I used a scalpel knife and scratched the surface of the paper. As the surface is scratched the colour intensifies in the grooves of the scratched lines.

The watercolour techniques in this Blog are just the tip of the iceberg, there are many more. Remember the best way to learn is to experiment and try new things. By trying well known techniques it sparks new ideas and new ideas for their application. Happy experimenting!

‘The true method of knowledge is to experiment’. William Blake

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