Expressing Your Artistic Vision | Masking Fluid Demo with Watercolor

Today’s guest editor is Robert Gamblin, and the following is the Foreword to Ed Brickler’s newest book, Making Art: Materials and Techniques for Today’s Artist. Enjoy!

Learn more about Making Art, and get a free demo

After the watercolor is dry, the artist uses the side of a light brown soft pastel stick to apply color to the highest points of the texture in this demo from Making Art.

“Today artists have a vast array of drawing and painting media to choose from in order to express their artistic vision. Each medium calls out a unique set of techniques that lead to successful artwork. Oil painting alone, being close to 600 years old, has passed through three distinct technological periods. Each period gave us a complete set of materials to use for oil painting, so the complexity is huge–and that’s only one medium! Therefore, it’s important to have a guide to help you navigate through the various art materials and help you choose the right supplies to make the kind of work that you desire.

Learn more about Making Art, and get a free demo

Here, the artist adds a bit more Ultramarine Blue into his original green mixture to darken it, then applies this darker green color to the foliage.

“As I write this, I am thinking of you, the reader. Some of you will make art that may find its way into important museums. Some of you will sell your work through art galleries, and some will make art that will become valuable heirlooms within your family. A commonality in all of this is the need for permanence. Quality art materials will deliver this permanence, but that is only half the equation: artists must construct their paintings or drawings in a sound manner. Then the artwork will hold the artist’s vision for many centuries. Regardless of how you draw or paint, the laws of physics still apply. A little craftsmanship will go a long way towards creating successful and permanent artwork.

“If this is your goal, you have come to the right place to learn how to choose materials and tools to make artwork that will convey your thoughts, feelings and the images that fascinate you and stand the test of time.

“Because many artists are either self-trained or trained through art programs that focus on ideas to the exclusion of materials and techniques, there is a great need for technical training. This book is a great contribution to fill that void.” ~Robert Gamblin

Indeed, Making Art is a comprehensive resource that covers a variety of media, from watercolor and charcoal to acrylics and egg tempera. To wet your palette (no pun intended), I’ve included a six-step masking fluid demonstration from Ed Brickler–just scroll down for the free excerpt.

Happy experimenting!

Cherie Haas, online editor**Click here to subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and more!



Watercolor Painting Demonstration: How to Use Masking Fluid

Masking fluid is a latex rubber solution used to block out areas of a painting to preserve the white of the paper or an underpainting color. Some manufacturers add a colorant so that you can see it on the paper. Follow the steps to practice using masking fluid in a watercolor painting. (Click here to tweet this free demo!)

[Masking Fluid Tip! Put brush soap on the bristles of your brush and let it dry before dipping it into the masking fluid. When you’re ready to clean the fluid out of your brush, the masking fluid will release more easily and won’t gum up the bristles.]

Surface ~ cold-pressed watercolor paper
Watercolors   ~   Burnt Sienna   ~   Quinacridone Red   ~   Ultramarine Blue
Brushes   ~   1″ (25mm) wash   ~   synthetic brush
Other   ~   masking fluid   ~   vinyl hard eraser or rubber cement pickup

Apply masking fluid to the paper.

1. Apply Masking Fluid to the Paper
Apply masking fluid with a synthetic brush that you keep  reserved exclusively for this purpose. (This masking fluid has a slightly orange tint added so it can be seen more easily on the white paper.) Let it dry. Most masking fluids dry in about ten minutes, but it depends on the humidity.


Apply water and brush out.

2. Apply Water and Brush Out
If you’re working wet-into-wet, apply water over the masked area, then brush on your watercolors. Quinacridone Red and Ultramarine Blue were used here.


Tip the paper.

3. Tip the Paper
Tip the paper in different directions to let the watercolors run around the masked areas. This will give you shading effects and soft edges. It can also separate areas of different colors.


Lift the dry masking fluid.

4. Lift the Dry Masking Fluid
Use a hard vinyl eraser or rubber cement pickup to lift the dry masking fluid, revealing the white of the paper. Resist using your fingers to remove the masking fluid. Dirt and oils from your skin can easily be transferred to the paper surface.


Apply more masking fluid.

5. Apply More Masking Fluid
To take things a step further, after all the original masking has been removed, apply more fluid to your painting to create new lines over the colors you’ve already applied. (Here a white masking fluid is being used because it’s easier to see over the colored areas.)


Apply a transparent glaze.

6. Apply a Transparent Glaze
When this second masking application is dry, remove it from all areas. Apply a very transparent watercolor glaze with a 1″ (25mm) wash brush. Here, Burnt Sienna was used to brush two swaths to illustrate the way it looks over all the previous colors.

Like this demo? Get your copy of Making Art by Ed Brickler today!

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