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Friday, 20 May 2011 18:15

Watercolor painting can be done in a variety of styles and techniques.

Water is an active and complex partner in the watercolor painting process, changing both the absorbency and shape of the paper when it is wet and the outlines and appearance of the paint as it dries. The difficulty in watercolor painting is almost entirely in learning how to anticipate and leverage the behavior of water, rather than attempting to control or dominate it.

Watercolor paint is traditionally and still commonly applied with brushes, but modern painters have experimented with many other implements, particularly sprayers, scrapers, sponges or sticks, and have combined watercolors with pencil, charcoal, crayon, chalk, ink, engraving, monotype, lithography and collage, or with acrylic paint.
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Washes and glazes

"Wash" is the application of diluted paint in a manner that disguises or effaces individual brush strokes to produce a unified area of color. Typically, this might be a light blue wash for the sky. There are many techniques to produce an acceptable wash, but the student method is to tilt the paper surface (usually after fixing it to a rigid flat support) so that the top of the wash area is higher than the bottom, then to apply the paint in a series of even, horizontal brush strokes in a downward sequence, each stroke just overlapping the stroke above to pull downward the excess paint or water (the "bead"), and finally wicking up the excess paint from the last stroke using a paper towel or the tip of a moist brush. This produces an airy, translucent color effect unique to watercolors, especially when a granulating or flocculating pigment (such as viridian or ultramarine blue) is used. Washes can be "graded" or "graduated" by adding more prediluted paint or water to the mixture used in successive brush strokes, which darkens or lightens the wash from start to finish. "Variegated" washes, which blend two or more paint colors, can also be used, for example as a wash with areas of blue and perhaps some red or orange for a sky at sunrise or sunset.

A "glaze" is the application of one paint color over a previous paint layer, with the new paint layer at a dilution sufficient to allow the first color to show through. Glazes are used to mix two or more colors, to adjust a color (darken it or change its hue or chroma), or to produce an extremely homogenous, smooth color surface or a controlled but delicate color transition (light to dark, or one hue to another). The last technique requires the first layer to be a highly diluted consistency of paint; this paint layer dissolves the surface sizing of the paper and loosens the cellulose tufts in the pulp. Subsequent layers are applied at increasingly heavier concentrations, always using a small round brush, only after the previous paint application has completely dried. Each new layer is used to refine the color transitions or to efface visible irregularities in the existing color. Painters who use this technique may apply 100 glazes or more to create a single painting. This method is currently very popular for painting high contrast, intricate subjects, in particular colorful blossoms in crystal vases brightly illuminated by direct sunlight. The glazing method also works exceptionally well in watercolor portraiture, allowing the artist to depict complex flesh tones effectively.

Wet in wet
Wet in wet includes any application of paint or water to an area of the painting that is already wet with either paint or water. In general, wet in wet is one of the most distinctive features of watercolor painting and the technique that produces a striking painterly effect.

The essential idea is to wet the entire sheet of paper, laid flat, until the surface no longer wicks up water but lets it sit on the surface, then to plunge in with a large brush saturated with paint. This is normally done to define the large areas of the painting with irregularly defined color, which is then sharpened and refined with more controlled painting as the paper (and preceding paint) dries.

Wet in wet actually comprises a variety of specific painting effects, each produced through different procedures. Among the most common and characteristic:

Paint Diffusion
Because of osmotic imbalance, concentrated paint applied to a prewetted paper has a tendency to diffuse or expand into the pure water surrounding it, especially if the paint has been milled using a dispersant (surfactant). This produces a characteristic feathery, delicate border around the color area, which can be enhanced or partially shaped by tilting the paper surface before the water dries, shaping the diffusion with surface water flow.

Pouring Color
Some artists pour large quantities of slightly diluted paint onto separate areas of the painting surface, then by using a brush, spray bottle of water and/or judicious tilting of the painting support, cause the wet areas to gently merge and mix. After the color has been mixed and allowed to set for a few minutes, the painting is tipped vertically to sheet off all excess moisture (the lighter colors across the darker ones), leaving behind a paper stained with random, delicate color variations, which can be further shaped with a wet brush or added paint while the paper is still wet. A popular variation uses separate areas of red, yellow and blue paint, which when mingled and drained produce a striking effect of light in darkness; areas of white are reserved by first covering them with plastic film, masking tape or a liquid latex resist. (The technique was actually invented, and used for similar effect, by J.M.W. Turner.)

Dropping In Color
In this technique a color area is first precisely defined with diluted paint or clear water, then more concentrated paint is dropped into it by touching the wet area with a brush charged with paint. The added paint can be shaped by tilting or stroking; backruns can be induced by adding pure water or concentrated paint, or the color can be lightened by wicking up paint with a moist brush. A striking, tesselated effect is produced when many precisely defined and interlocking areas are separately colored with this randomly diffusing technique.

Salt Texture
Grains of coarse salt, sprinkled into moist paint, produce small, snowflake like imperfections in the color. This is especially effective when the color area is a wash that displays the texture more clearly. It should be remembered when using salt that salt will rot the paper eventually. A similar effect can be produced by spraying a moist (not shiny but still cool to the touch) paint area with water, using a spray bottle held two or three feet above the painting surface, or by sprinkling a wet paint with coarse sand or sawdust.

Cling-film technique
The use of kitchen cling-film to create special effects in watercolor painting. A wash of watercolor is applied to paper and cling-film is laid over the wet pigment. The cling-film is then manipulated manually using fingers to form a series of ridges that resemble ripples in water or long grasses. Once the pigment is completely dry, the cling-film is removed and the texture is revealed in greater clarity.

Drybrush technique
Drybrush is the watercolor painting technique for precision and control. Raw (undiluted) paint is picked up with a premoistened, small brush (usually a #4 or smaller), then applied to the paper with small hatching or crisscrossing brushstrokes. The brush tip must be wetted but not overcharged with paint, and the paint must be just fluid enough to transfer to the paper with slight pressure and without dissolving the paint layer underneath. The goal is to build up or mix the paint colors with short precise touches that blend to avoid the appearance of pointillism. The cumulative effect is objective, textural and highly controlled, with the strongest possible value contrasts in the medium. Often it is impossible to distinguish a good drybrush watercolor from a color photograph or oil painting, and many drybrush watercolors are varnished or lacquered after they are completed to enhance this resemblance.

Dragging color
Scumbling (in the 19th century, called "crumbling color" or "dragging color") is an unrelated technique of loading a large, moist flat or round brush with concentrated paint, wicking out the excess, then lightly dragging the side or heel of the tuft across the paper to produce a rough, textured appearance, for example to represent beach grass, rocky surfaces or glittering water. The amount of texture that can be produced depends on the finish or tooth of the paper (R or CP paper works best), the size of the brush, the consistency and quantity of the paint in the brush, and the pressure and speed of the brush stroke. Moist paper will cause the scumbled color to diffuse slightly before it dries.

Colors can be mixed in at least four ways: (1) by completely mixing together on the palette the paints that exactly match a desired color; (2) by loading together in a large brush the separate paints that approximately match the desired color, then letting these partially mix as the paint is applied to the paper; (3) by laying down first a single paint color, then "dropping in" the remaining paint colors with the brush while the painted area is still wet; (4) by glazing the paints as separate layers, one over another. Each technique has its purpose—the first provides color accuracy (for photorealist painting), the second provides color variety (especially in dark colors), the third produces many "wet in wet" effects between wetter and drier paint areas (for greater color expressiveness), the fourth can produce a variety of luminous, iridescent or "broken color" effects, similar to mixtures with pastel chalks.

Watercolor Tutorials:

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Watercolor pencils

Watercolor pencils are a perfect way to add specific details to your painting.

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Information is used from: www.vam.ac.uk





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Last Updated on Friday, 16 September 2011 08:33