We have a great lesson on watercolor painting for you today, excerpted from Joe Garcia’s Secrets of Watercolor – From Basics to Special Effects, watercolor painting techniques, including wet-into-wet, which we’re going to share with you, today. This great little book takes some of Joe’s best lessons and distills them down into the essentials that every watercolor artist should know. Best of all, this is super easy to follow!
Wet-into-Wet Watercolor Painting
The wet-into-wet wash — painting on a wet surface and letting colors blend as they may — is the essence of transparent watercolor painting. I like to call it “controlled accidents.” Control comes from knowing the amount of water on the surface and how to use it. Paper texture and weight also play roles. On hot-pressed paper, colors float and remain on the surface. Cold-pressed and rough papers are more absorbent. A wet-into-wet wash looks strong and vibrant while wet, but loses intensity when the colors dry. Always make your washes stronger to compensate.
Day’s Final Light
Watercolor on 140-lb. (300gsm)
4¾” × 8″ (12cm × 20cm)
1. Completely saturate the watercolor paper with water. Be careful to wet the surface evenly; this affects the success of the wash. Mix a large solution of color on the palette. Use the largest appropriate size brush available to apply the color. If it’s too wet, you have little control of the wash; too dry, and the wash will not flow freely.
2. While the surface is wet, add a second and third color. If the wash is doing what you want, lay the painting flat and allow it to dry. If you want more blending, pick up the wash and tilt and move it to control the flow of color on the surface.
3. When the desired effect is reached, allow the painting to dry. If you use a hair dryer to dry the surface, be careful not to blow the wash around.
Want to translate this into a specific lesson? Learn how to paint watercolor flowers with this great video, Painting Watercolor Lilies, by Joyce Faulknor and Guy Magallanes. You’ll love their contrasting styles and lively banter, all while learning some fantastic watercolor painting tips from two of the very best.
Secrets of Watercolor is part of the Essential Artist Techniques series. For more on these great titles, along with Secrets of Acrylic. Pick them both up to expand your painting skills. It takes time to become a master, but these books will get you started.