Mixing it Big

Q. Although I’ve been painting with watercolor for almost 25 years, I still have problems mixing large amounts of paint. Do you have any tips for me?

A.If you need a large amount of paint, you can mix the color in batches. You need a separate mixing tray, and be sure to squirt a good amount of paint out on the tray. Yes, it’s expensive, but you want a rich painting, not a wimpy one. Mix thoroughly with the right amount of water—not too much so that your mixture is mostly water, or too little so that you can’t spread the paint with your brush. Test the color before applying and adjust if necessary. When you mix another batch, you can check it against the first batch. If it’s off just a little, who cares? It makes a more interesting painting. It doesn’t really have to match exactly.

Heather Galloway is a freelance conservator and Assistant Paintings Conservator with the Intermuseum Laboratory at Oberlin College.

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