Thursday, November 5

A Tip & A Trick for Artists

Today’s Image
A facsimile of the color - Mars Violet

What art-y thing shall we discuss today?

No, really, I would like your opinion. Like anyone, and especially anyone who writes a regular blog, news column, or email newsletter, there are days when I could use a little oomph from the muses.

Oh, I’ll always think of something to say, but please feel free to leave a comment or email me ( with anything that’s on your mind.

OK, no deep, mind-shaping discussion today, just back to business with a few odds and ends about art that are on my mind.

I’m happy to report that I found a new color to use that I think will really help when I’m painting watercolor landscapes. All right, there’s a disclaimer; I didn’t actually “find” the color myself. It was suggested to me by a watercolor artist.

I haven’t used it yet, but I will on my next painting, which I’ve started. It’s a landscape vista looking up a hill with trees on the left side and a statue on the hill. The reference photo shows the rocky hillside to be a distinctly violet color.

Therefore, the color—Mars Violet—was suggested to me. One manufacturer is Holbein, but there are others, and it may be called something else by other manufacturers. I haven’t bought a tube myself yet, but when I get the CI number and specifics, I’ll give you that.

The artist gave me a small sample in a little container. When I painted several swaths on a strip of watercolor paper, I immediately knew I would use this color for many landscape-painting applications. Since the word violet was in the name of this color, I was expecting something along the line of a purplish, lavender-ish kind of a hue that could be used in a sunrise or sunset or something.

However, when I removed the cap on the tube I could see immediately it was more plum-like or maroon, that is, with a definite red tone. When I painted a light swatch and then a dark one, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there is a good bit of brown (red + blue + yellow) in the color. It has a definite earth-tone tinge that makes it perfect for certain landscape applications. defines it as grayish-purple color (although I don't see much gray at all) made from iron oxide, which would account for the reddish brown. Remember the color—Mars Violet.

I also wanted to tell you about another “find.” Again, this was also suggested to me, but it’s a good tip or trick of the trade or whatever to know.

I use it for lifting (removing) watercolor when you need to make a color correction or you make a mistake, which I’m sure never happens to you either, or you just change your mind. It works better than plain water.

One brand name is Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, but there are other brands, such as the Target brand, erase-away. It’s actually a stain-lifter, spot-remover product, but someone discovered it works great for lifting, and I concur.

You use it with water, and you need to be very gentle. Gentle is the key word, or you’ll compromise the watercolor paper, not to mention your painting. After it’s wet, but not soaking wet, gently rub it on the area to lift and the color will, “as if by magic,” be gone. Of course, with the truly staining colors, such as some of the pthalos and some of the deep reds, etc., what you see is what you get, and nothing will remove those.

So, keep those cards and letters and comments and emails coming.



  1. Wow, I had no idea you could use a magic eraser on paintings! What a great tip, thanks!

  2. Yeah, who knew? (I would have thought it would make a hole in your paper or something.)