Explore Watercolor's Possibilities
Updated: Jan 29, 2022
Water is Internal & Spiritual
Water is a living and breathing element. This is a very important piece to my teaching of watercolor and to my relationship with the paint itself.
As humans we are made up of around 60% water. We MUST drink water to stay alive, and the earth is about 70% water. Let that sink in.
On top of that, most artist grade watercolor pigments are from minerals that are from the earth and ground up.
Let That Sink In
Because of the relationship between us and water, your "attitude" towards the medium of watercolor will determine the outcome.
"Approach painting as you would if you were getting to know a new friend. Move, then let it move, watch what it does, learn its abilities and characteristics, then become a team."
Here's How To Build Your Watercolor Relationship
Take a piece of cold press watercolor paper. This can be a scrap or in a watercolor sketchbook, and tape it down. If it's in a watercolor sketchbook I suggest using some clips to hold the page down.
Step #2 - Divide and Secure
Next divide the piece into two with a piece of tape. Make sure your tape runs further than the paper on all ends. You'll be using lots of water and the "extended" edges will help it stick better.
Step #3 - Prep The Paint
Before you bring in the water to start painting you need to have your paint ready to go. Although we will use a lot of water on the paper, we want as much time as possible to "play" with the paint on the paper. Having everything ready to go before going to the paper achieves that goal.
Step #4 - Choose Odd Colors
When prepping your paints keep the colors in mind. Pick two colors you don't think will work well together. Or pick complementary colors like blue and orange, or yellow and violet. The more you know about how the colors look when mixed the more prepared you'll be when painting.
Step #5 - Bring in the Water
Wet your paper with clean water. I use a large hog hair brush, but a 1" flat brush will work just as well, just takes a little longer. You can also use a spray bottle and spritz your paper. Just make sure it has enough water that you can see shallow puddles. If all the water sinks into the paper and you have a sheen, you need a bit more water for the paint.
Step #6 - Drop In The First Color
Charge your brush and gently lay in the color onto the wet paper. I'm using Daniel Smith's French Ultramarine. Let it move and go where it wants. Watch how it reacts to the amount of water in one spot, then in another. Pay attention to how much paint leaves your brush and how it starts to lighten as the water on the paper takes it and mixes with the pigment. Leave some white paper spots for the second color.
Step #7 - Add In Second Color
Next, in those blank spaces on the paper, add your second color. I decided to use a complementary color Daniel Smith's Quinacridone Sienna. Again I charge my brush with the sienna and gently lay it in and around the ultramarine. Allow these to mix and watch what happens to the color. Pause for a moment and after painting, watch what the two colors do. Which one dominates? Which one pushes or pulls more?
Step #8 - Add Textures
I use a lot of water drops and salt to create interesting atmospheres and textures. Try splattering your painting with some clean water drops, and sprinkle a little table salt and let it dry, watching every few minutes to see what effects are happening.
Step #9 - Make a Second Painting
While making works of art in watercolor it's always good to have two paintings going at the same time. The reason is because while you wait for one to dry, you can begin another one. So here I do the same steps but with Quinacridone Rose and Undersea Green, another complementary pair.
Step #10 - Play Some More
Once finished gently lift up the tape and paper. Tilt it, bend it, flip it, and let the paint move. Colors will mix more seamlessly and will help to dry it out.
In the End
Now let it dry completely for next week. We will create some magical places using these two different paintings! Remember, if you have any questions please feel free to post them in the comments. No question is "stupid" or "silly". They are all relevant. :)