Mixing paints on the palette and then applying them to paper is common among watercolor techniques, but it can lead to muddy results when the paints are over mixed. By allowing the colors to blend on the paper, you can create beautiful, spontaneous results. Follow along as I use a color pouring and blending technique technique to create Peaceful World (watercolor on paper, 11×15), and learn how to mix watercolors for yourself.
With my reference photo as my guide, I sketch the landscape with a No. 2 pencil on Arches 140-lb. watercolor paper. Using the wedge-shaped tip of a ¼-inch brush handle, I apply masking fluid, blocking out the snow on the foliage, branches, trunks and large log. To block out the large snow area in the foreground, I pour liquid masking directly onto the paper and use my fingers to spread it out. I then cover some of the snow area with masking tape.
I wet the left side of the paper with a few squirts of water from a spray bottle, and then I drop a variety of liquid paints at the root area of the fallen tree, using a different brush for each color.
I spray water directly onto the paints to encourage blending.
With my index finger, I guide the paint, dragging it to indicate trees and branches. The liquid masking prevents color from hitting the area of paper designated as snow.
When the paper is semi-dry, I use a ¼-inch brush to paint the trunks. Next, with a No. 4 round, I add red and blue paint in thin, even strokes to create the branches.
After the paint is dry, I remove the dried masking fluid with packing or masking tape. To do this, I cut the tape into pieces about 2 inches long and press the adhesive side onto the dry masking fluid. Then I carefully peel the tape off of the paper.
I use a No. 4 round brush to paint light to medium blue on the lower foreground, as well as the snow on the foliage, branches and large fallen log. With the same brush, I add details on the log with dark blue and red. Next, I use a ¾-inch brush to suggest creases in the foreground snow with a few strokes of light blue. While this area is wet, I lightly dip a No. 8 brush into water and softly blend the upper edges of the creases.
Excerpted from Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor by Lian Quan Zhen (North Light Books, 2013).
Try This At Home
Create a painting using these watercolor tips for pouring and blending. Send a JPG (with a resolution of 72 dpi) of your painting to email@example.com with “Creativity Workshop” in the subject line and tell us about your process by December 15. The “editor’s choice” will receive a copy of Zhen’s Chinese Landscape Painting Techniques for Watercolor (North Light Books, 2013).
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