Watercolor is a wonderful medium that can be approached from many different directions, and watercolor artists choose techniques to match their individual needs or intentions. For example, some artists prefer to work on dry paper and allow each applied paint layer to dry thoroughly before applying the next layer. Another philosophy is to put the paints down and let them mingle. There are so many ways to use watercolor for great results.
I went through this journey myself when first learning to paint with watercolors. I learned that I wanted to push the medium to the same strength as an oil painting. Waiting for paint to dry was not my forte; nor was stretching paper. Over time I adapted several techniques to suit my personality, one of which is to apply wet glazing on a vertical surface.
All that’s required is an easel, a board that’s slightly larger than the paper surface (nonabsorbent board works best), four clips, a piece of Arches 140-lb. paper, a transparent warm and cool (red, yellow and blue) paint, flat brushes, a paper towel and a large jar filled with water.
Your style will dictate whether you begin with a pencil drawing on your paper. I draw on my paper to work out the composition and to give visual cues for values. I really want to have fun with the painting process, and these preparatory marks allow freedom to play with the paints.
The next step is to thoroughly wet both sides of the paper and clip the wet paper to the board at the corners. Then, place the board on the easel and get to work with your paint! Painting wet-on-wet on the vertical surface allows you to adjust color and temperature, and to manipulate paint by layering or lifting. After a bit of practice, you will layer quickly, lift up paint easily and vary edges. Learning to make a dry brush mark or create a soft edge on damp or wet paper will become second nature with wet glazing. Although I can paint using other techniques, wet glazing suits my process, and I enjoy the results.
What technique do you use, and why? Are you achieving the results desired from your process? Try looking at the work of other artists whom you admire and research the techniques that they employ. Perhaps these new techniques will suit your style or maybe you’ll modify them to fit your specific needs.
Most of all, have fun with the journey and stay true to yourself!
Edited by Cherie Haas, online editor of ArtistsNetwork.com
• Mixed Media Painting Workshop: Explore Mediums, Techniques, and the Personal Artistic Journey (book or download)
• Expressive Portraits: Watercolor and Mixed Media Techniques (paperback)
• Wet Glazing Watercolor Portrait (DVD)
• Watercolor Artist, August 2011: Create the illusion of depth in your paintings with these simple tips and helpful illustrations of linear and aerial perspective. (article)
• See her work at www.jeanpederson.com