Watercolor Techniques: Individualize Your Paintings!

watercolor techniquesThink back to your younger years. Remember walking into a room and seeing a white sheet of paper or newspaper covering a table?  Upon closer inspection, you would find cups of water clear water that you could use to properly clean your brushes.  What time was it?  It was watercolor painting time!  It is easy to get excited about water coloring, and if you thought the joys and excitements of water color were just reserved for when you were younger – think again!  Water coloring is an artistic escape for any age.  The whole process is a bit different from regular drawing or coloring, and incorporates a more delicate a beautiful uniqueness of merging different colors and pigments.  Water color can definitely be more advanced than simply dipping your brushes into a traditional oval palette color and sweeping it on paper — there are actually various forms of watercolor techniques that you can use to create individualized shapes, forms, and patterns in your paintings.  Today, we are going to give you a little insight into how!  Let’s get started.

Watercolor Techniques

There are six different techniques that are commonly used in water color.  Let’s take a look at each of them in a little more detail:

Wash:  The flat wash is a great way to start off with a basic watercolor technique.  Here are some steps that you can take to achieve this look on paper.

  1. Wet the area of the paper that you will want to wash to cover.
  2. Mix enough of your chosen pigment so that you can easily fill up the area that you want to cover.
  3. Apply to pigment on a slop surface so that you can overlap the horizontal bands from the top down.
  4. Let the wash sit and dry so that it can take the time to even out the colors.

Remember to not work back into a dry wash before it is dried – you will only mess up your painting.  A variation to dry was is the graded wash.  The graded wash requires that you dilute your pigment a little bit so that you can incorporate more water with each horizontal stroke that you make.  Both of these techniques will leave you with a wash that fades out gradually and evenly on your painting.

Glazing:  Next we have glazing, which is a technique similar to the wash technique.  However, this time you will use a thin and transparent pigment that you will apply over already dried washes.  The purpose of the glazing technique is to adjust or alter the color and the tone to the underlying wash of your painting.  Here are some of the best pigments to use when you are going to practice glazing:

  • Rose Madder or Permanent Rose
  • Colbat Blue
  • Auroline

All of these pigments will help you easily achieve the glazing effect that you desire.  Always remember to make sure each layer of your glazing efforts is completely dry before you move onto your next later.

Wet in Wet:  The technique of wet in wet involves simply applying your color pigment of choice to wet paper.  It can be applied over washes that are already dried as well.  To achieve this technique’s look:

  1. Wet your paper with a large brush.
  2. Paint directly into and on the dampness of the paper.

Your results will vary depending on how wet your paper is.  Your results will look anywhere from soft and undefined shapes to blurred marks.  By painting wet in wet, you can achieve great subtle backgrounds for your painting.

Dry Brush:  The dry brush technique is just what it sounds like, which makes it almost the complete opposite of the wet in wet technique.  For the dry brush effect:

  1. Dig your brush into a good amount of pigment.
  2. Drag your brush over completely dry paper.

Generally, the effects that you will produce from this technique will look very crisp and hard-edged.  You will probably want to incorporate the dry brush technique around the center focus or interest of your painting.  This is mainly because the effects make the points around the painting come forward and stand out more.  Decide what you where you want to apply crisp and sharp detail, and start dry brushing!

Bright watercolor stainsLifting Off:  After a watercolor pigment has dried, most of the pigments can be lifted off.  Let’s take a look at the technique of lifting off as applied to watercolor:

  1. Wet the area that you want to be removed using a clean brush and water.
  2. Blot away the pigment with a tissue.
  3. Use strips of paper to mask certain areas of the pigment.  This will produce defined lines and shapes.

Remember that staining colors such as: Phthalo, Prussian Blue, Alizarin, Windsor Red, Yellow, or Blue should not be used for this technique, as they are difficult to remove and will likely mess up your painting.  An example of lifting off in a painting would be to remove a shadow from the foreground of a painting if you do not want to draw too much attention to that certain aspect.

Dropping in Color:  The technique of dropping in color is the basic introduction of a color to a wet region of your painting.  By doing this, you will be allowing your watercolor pigment to blend and bleed into the painting without being interrupted by other pigments or strokes.  One thing to watch out for when you are using this technique is that you may not always come up with the results that you had predicted.  However, you will achieve interesting and vibrant color variations that you may not have been able to create otherwise with your watercolor palette.

Paint Away!

Now that you are armed with a good amount of watercolor technique knowledge, you can begin customizing and perfecting your works of art to your own individual taste!  Remember that if you are just beginning with watercolor painting, try a few simple painting before jumping into these techniques.  Get those brushes moving for a beautiful painting today!