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Interesting Information About Watercolor Painting

I just managed, right now, to express something that I have probably been started to grasp for a few months… And putting it into words will be a great help, I am pretty sure!! That’s why I want to share it with you

So, here is my new secret for amazing watery yet strong watercolors…

I am pretty sure this seems obvious for some of you… It seems almost obvious to me, now, but it wasn’t, a few months ago. Plus, I think it’s not always pretty obvious in my painting practice, so I am going to work on it now that I have this mantra in my head.

Btw, when I say “on wet paper”, it can mean that you work wet on wet, wetting your whole paper first like some watercolorists do, OR that you put your brush again on an area you just painted (so, on a wet wash).

The idea behind my today “secret” 😉 is not new, for sure, but I don’t think I ever read it expressed that way so I thought it was worth sharing. 😊

For this quick tulips sketch, I painted the leaves on dry paper, trying to use enough water to create some nice effects with the Daniel Smith Green Apatite Genuine I really love. Then, I started “painting” the flowers with a really pale pink wash (just dark enough to see it 😉) before adding some strong red and pink pigment on the wet wash to create this soft melted variations of colors. 😊

The explanation for my new mantra is :

If you don’t use enough water (when painting on dry paper or adding some colors to an ink sketch), you end up with a “coloring in” look : even boring washes, no interesting watery effects, no granulation, not great colors melting or splitting…

If you don’t use enough pigment, when the area where you apply your brush is wet, the too diluted stroke you add achieves nothing (that’s rather obvious in some stop motion videos I made of myself painting!! 😬). You just pretty much dilute your previous wash! Sometimes, you end up with some unwanted backruns or cauliflower effects (I like them but I guess you don’t always want it…). Adding strong pigment on a wet surface, however, is one of the best use of watercolor we can do, in my opinion! 😀

Trying to paint a wave from life, in Portugal… Watercolor is, above all, water!! The top and the bottom of the sketch are rather wet, showing melted colors (wet enough washes on dry paper). In the green part of the wave, I added some strong blue pigment in a still a bit wet area

Portugal sketch, again. 😍 That’s a fast and furious one, done within a few minutes in a crazy wind (blowing my palette away) in Sagres, cape St. Vincent. The use of enough water, on dry paper, gave me the chance to create nice effects, especially a crazy granulation of French Ultramarine in the sky. Please note the almost straight from the tube paint I used for the birds (strong pigment on wet paper) (btw, we can notice where the paper was still wet and where it has already dried when I added these birds).

For this sketch, I started by wetting the whole page first, to achieve a soft melted rendering for the sky reflecting on the sea. Then, I had to use enough blue pigment to get a strong color on the wet paper (because the blue paint I was applying was diluted by the water absorbed by the paper).