Artist Catherine P. O’Neill, featured in a past issue of Watercolor Artist, shares her watercolor techniques for pouring watercolor and lifting it in stages to create the effect of mist. Follow along with her demonstration below, then subscribe to Watercolor Artist and get a free gift!
How to Paint Mist in Watercolor, Step-by-Step
Step 1: To start, I stretched a sheet of Arches 140-lb. cold-pressed paper on Guerrilla Watercolorboard. I then covered the bottom third of the paper with frisket ﬁlm and sealed it with masking ﬂuid. I wet the top section of the paper and poured quinacridone gold, new gamboge, burnt sienna and French ultramarine blue onto the surface, letting the colors mingle on the paper. I lifted some mist with a sponge along the bottom edge, then let this layer dry.
Step 2: I applied masking ﬂuid to save areas where I wanted to suggest foliage and tree branches. When that was dry, I rewet the paper and again poured quinacridone gold, new gamboge and burnt sienna, lifting mist at the bottom edge like before. I let the paper dry.
Step 3: On the horizon line, I applied more masking for foliage and my brother’s shirt. When the masking was dry, I poured a layer of Antwerp blue and French ultramarine blue. Mist was again lifted with a sponge along the bottom edge. I let this dry, then removed the masking.
Step 4: I rewet the paper and poured another layer of burnt sienna, Antwerp blue and French ultramarine blue, spraying the paint with water to encourage it to flow and tipping the board to pour oﬀ excess. I then started to lift a few tree trunk shapes.
Step 5: I removed most of the frisket film from the bottom section of the painting, leaving only a narrow strip of film sealed with masking ﬂuid covering the paper in the center. I painted a wash of quinacridone gold below the strip and let this dry.
Step 6: I rewet the bottom third of the paper, added burnt sienna to the left side, French ultramarine to the right and misted with a spray bottle to encourage the paints to merge. (The dark mark on the bottom right is where I dropped my paintbrush. Oops.) I let it dry.
Step 7: I rewet and poured one more layer of French ultramarine over the bottom.
Step 8: I removed the masking from the center strip, softened the edges with a scrubber brush and lifted out paint with a sponge to give a sense of mist over the bottom section. I then started to paint in the lightest value of the boat.
Final Step: I ﬁnished by painting my brother and his boat directly, followed by the water around the boat. I further scrubbed out along the shoreline to suggest rising mist.
Want more incredible watercolor demonstrations, techniques, tips and more? Peruse through past editions of Watercolor Artist in the North Light Shop!