Tuesday, December 11

7 Tips for Painting Wet-In-Wet

A Recent Wet-In-Wet Watercolor
of Mine
If you read my last blog, Painting Wet-In-Wet, you may have surmised that I think painting wet-in-wet is extraordinarily difficult. And you would be partially correct. I do.

But it's not impossible; that is, it's not impossible if you can learn how to control the water and the paint better.

Here are a few tips, or maybe I should call them lessons learned, I have stumbled upon that make the process somewhat easier for me. Note, I did not use the word easy.

One. Select a type of paper on which you have achieved some success  with the way you want your paintings to look and stick with it exclusively until you have learned its every reaction and nuance to water, especially how long it takes the water to start to dry. You probably will have to try out at least five or perhaps many more, but I assure you, one will rise to the top of your list, and you will become the master of it.

Two. I have had success with two types of brushes: a squirrel mop (aka a quill) and rounds. I use a no. 12 squirrel mop/quill, a no. 14 Kolinsky sable round, and a no. 8 round. The mop holds lots of paint and water, and the rounds work best with spring-y points that keeps their shapes. I paint rather loose and large, so other sizes may better suit you.

Three. One large, single palette for mixing, such as an enamel butcher's tray, works best for me rather than a palette with several (or many) pans or dividers. I'm not sure why except a larger mixing area allows me to better see all the different colors mixed and their strengths, and I can dip my brush in just the right spot.

Four. Keep a spritzer within reach at all times. When I say spritzer I mean a sprayer that sprays a fine mist onto your paper rather than any old spray nozzle that squirts out water in uncontrollable streams or drops--terrible. The spritzer lets you re-wet the paper whenever it or the paint need it.

Five. Study the bead of water that is generated as you pass your brush horizontally over the paper. That is about the only way you will learn how, where, and when to apply the wet-in-wet paint. I think when people say a watercolor paints itself, they're talking about the bead.

 Six. I find that keeping my paper tilted at an angle of at least 5 degrees but no more than about 15 degrees works best for me. This allows the bead of water to move relatively slowly down the paper. I use a table-top easel adjusted almost all the way down horizontally to achieve this.

Seven. I use all types of watercolor: transparent, granulating, and the more opaque, including gouache. It gives me freedom and choice or at least I think it does.

And that's all there is to it. Ha.

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