Mixing Without Muddying

Q. How do you take color from one well on your palette and mix it with a color from another well without muddying the second color?

A. For the beginning student, this can be bit of a problem—I know it was for me. I’ve learned to take a generous amount of color out of the first well with my brush and place it on my mixing tray, then clean my brush thoroughly before dipping into my second color. I then use a clean brush to take the second color out, putting it next to the first color on my mixing area. To mix the colors, I take a little of one color and a little of the other and mix them in a separate area. The key here is always to rinse your brush before dipping into a second color. Rinsing, rinsing and rinsing that brush is a must in watercolor! You can check the brush for residual paint on a little test sheet of paper. I know, I know—it’s a lot of work! But it’s worth it, since it will help keep you out of the mud.

“Washington, D.C., where I live, is wonderful for the kind of work I do. There are lush gardens and a huge arboretum, Dumbarton Oaks,” says Patricia Tobacco Forester who exhibits in Washington at Addison/Ripley Fine Arts and has work in the collection of the National Museum for Women in the Arts. “Because of my constant travel to find different landscapes, I also show in galleries in Santa Fe, San Francisco, New York and Baltimore.”

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