As an art tutor I provide private Watercolour, Acrylic, oil painting and drawing lessons for beginners to advanced students at my Kings Heath studio. Based on my many years experience and practice in Watercolour, here are few tips for those who want to step into this demanding, exciting and full of surprises medium.
Best Of Luck!
Watercolour is a versatile and flexible medium that can yield a variety of results. Also known as aquarelle, it’s a Painting Techniques in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle.
We can’t play with one technique while making a watercolour painting. I would suggest don’t restrict yourself, just enjoy the medium with no fear just paint, paint and paint with artist quality material. Just explore yourself through painting and creating your own painting style.
Make sure you always use the best quality watercolour paper I don’t advise using the student quality watercolour blocks made from wood pulp sold at most art stores. The exception of this would be Arches blocks made from 100% cotton.
Artist quality watercolour brushes. To the get subtle brush stroke I always use pure sable hair big brushes because they hold maximum amount of water.
Master the Medium By using few simple techniques.
Once the paint is applied to wet paper you only have a couple of minutes to play with it. Once the paper loses the glisten resulting from the water not being totally absorbed, you run a big risk of ruining that area. So make sure what you will put on. At this stage I try not to improvise.
Dry on Dry
Dry on dry is the procedure in which a dry brush loaded with thick and barely moist paint is dragged over the grain on the surface of the paper to create texture and is not being absorbed within the fibres. (More easily done with rough paper). This is used to make objects look weather beaten such as old wooden doors, textures on rocks, etc.
Wet on dry
Here the paper will absorb the wet paint. We have absolute control and can determine exactly how far to go. However here we will get hard edges, which is all right in some areas but if you want to convey the feeling of distance you will have to rely solely on colour and value, not diffusion. Personally I feel that if the whole painting is done on dry paper, it gives a cut out and pasted on feeling, at times a cartoonist look. The real purpose of watercolour is lost.
Dry on Wet
This is done with moist paint on a damp brush with all excess water squeezed out painted on wet paper. With this means of application we have general control over the edges. Exact shape is not a concern. We get nice diffusion that will push elements back into the distance making it belong to the background. Good for background mountains and foliage.
Wet on Wet
This is the same as dry on wet, except here the brush-as well as the paper is very wet. It is used when soft diffusions are required, but when retaining a particular shape is not a concern, the paint will go where it pleases. This way we will get “happy accidents”. All edges will be lost. This is when a painting looks fresh. Particularly a good way to paint clouds in a sky. The sky will paint itself.
You can lift away colour to correct a mistake or adjust the lighting in a piece
Sometimes you’ll need to “erase” your watercolour. While you can’t return the paper to 100% white, you can lift away colour to correct a mistake or adjust the lighting in a piece. Work with an already dry swatch of watercolour and using clear water, paint in the shape you’d like to lift out. Let it set for a just a minute then dab away the water with a paper towel. You’ll see the colour lift out in the shape you painted in.
Salt can provide an interesting texture with little effort Watercolour is all about layering and texture. Salt can provide an interesting texture with little effort as the salt crystals absorb the water, leaving a unique pattern in the pigment. Lay down a swatch of watercolour and while the paint is still wet, sprinkle over salt. Let this sit until mostly dry and simply wipe or blow away the salt. This technique is useful for adding texture to natural surfaces like rocks or tree bark.
Another household item you can use to apply watercolours is a sponge. Simply mix your pigment in a small dish or tray, dip the sponge into the paint and blot onto your paper. You can alter the wetness of your paint and achieve different effects. A drier look would be suited for plant life or scaly skin while a wet application might be more suited for waterscapes or clouds.
Think about where you’d like your whites and lights before you apply paint.
Watercolour is about planning. Think about where you’d like your whites and lights before you apply paint. It’s vital to keep control of your brush as you paint in the edge of where you’d like your negative space to begin. Load it with semi-wet pigment and paint along the edge of where you’d like your negative space to begin. Then pull the colour away from the edge of the stroke to fill in where you’d like pigment.
Use tape to mask of areas you’d like to keep