Painting Watercolor Dry

To compose my pictures, I look through a catalogue I’ve compiled of photos and sketches. For my landscapes, I never paint an actual spot. My paintings are more like a collage, an amalgam of images. I rummage through my collection of prints and drawings until I find an element that will start me going. I paint watercolor while standing at an angled table; I prefer kolinsky sable rounds and 140-lb. hot-pressed paper.

Days of Pleasure (watercolor on paper, 22 x 30)

Many artists like watercolor because watery paint on a wet surface will move. I, on the other hand, don’t want my paint to move. I like to paint dry. I paint a color on top of another color occasionally, but I like to keep the colors separate. If they do touch it’s because I want them to. For me it’s better to keep the color and the shapes clear. Textures don’t interest me.

I’m a studio painter; I’m never painting an actual scene that would require a certain degree of fidelity to reality. I make up my own colors. I use the whole gamut in my paintings: reds, yellows, blues, but very few earth tones. In contrast to many watercolorists, I love and use black, the actual black in a tube?all the blacks, especially ivory and lampblack. To know how to do that takes time. A black line gives power and emphasis to the work. A light wash of black on top of a bright color helps tone the color down and push it back. A good solid black placed in the interior can arrest all movement and then start it flowing again. Also, I mix blacks with colors to get rich grays. Black never seems to get muddy the way umbers do; it just gets mysterious and shadowy.

Jane M. Mason is an award-winning artist and art teacher who specializes in watercolor. “Painting for me is like canoeing on an endless river,” she says. “It?s always enthralling and at times I?m in control. But, before you know it, the painting takes me for the ride of my life. Every day brings new challenges, enlightenment and rewards.” She can be contacted at; her Web site is

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