Watercolor Techniques

Bellofy Blog

Perhaps the best challenge that a watercolor painter overcomes is not the controlling and dominating of the pigment on water as it is applied on paper but in anticipating and working with it. Not many artists have done this to perfection but those who have, come out with the most elegant watercolor art pieces ever seen. In the United States of America, the most preeminent watercolorist who gained a masterful control of watercolor techniques includes Winslow Homer, Fidela Bridges, William Trost Richards, Thomas Moran, Henry Roderick Newman, Thomas Earkins and John La Farge.

Unlike mediums like oil and acrylic, watercolor does not essentially stay where they are placed. Aside from that, the hiding power of watercolor is not high. Unlike other mediums, when mistakes are done the errors could not be painted over, it could be blotted out but even with the best of efforts, it could only be hidden partially. For this, watercolor fair or not gained a reputation for being a very demanding medium. When control is achieved though, it could be a very excellent medium to work on. Some of the watercolor techniques developed over the years include the following examples.

Wet in Wet
There are several variations to this like back runs, paint diffusion, salt texture, cling film technique, dropping in color and pouring in color but the basic idea is to paint on a paper that is already wet either with water or paint. Depending on how wet the paper is, the wet in wet technique is applied to existing washes and are good for subtle backgrounds. The technique is to use a wide brush and wet the paper before applying watercolor to it. This will result in undefined marks depending on the absorbency of the paper used and the dampness of the paper.

The flat wash is the basic technique. To differentiate it from the wet in wet, the flat wash is wetting only the area where the pigment is to be painted. It is achieved by painting on a sloping surface in overlapping strokes working from the top downwards. To achieve a fading effect, the pigment is diluted with more water with every stroke. The common mistake to guard against is not waiting for the paper and the paint to dry out. When that is done pigments will flow to each other and the work could be ruined.

This technique is to adjust the tone or color of an existing wash. To do this, water with very little pigment is commonly used. When the glazing technique is applied, be sure that the surface that is being glazed over is completely dry if you do not want the paint underneath to mix with the glazing. To get the best result, get a trial patch and glaze gradually. Glazing will change the value of the paint underneath but will not actually alter the pigment. Paint only one layer at a time to achieve the right color temperature that you want to achieve.

Dry Brush
Dry brush is a watercolor technique is the opposite application to the wet in wet. Here the paint is dragged across the paper without diluting it with water. The effect is crisp and sharp. Dry brush is applied usually to achieve the most and sharpest contrast.



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