Thursday, January 31, 2013

Beginning Watercolor 1/31/13 Damp into Wet

Staying aware of how wet the brush is compared to the paper will keep you out of all kinds of wetness trouble. What is traditionally called "wet-into-wet" painting should really be called "wet -into-wetter"'

I find it much easier to tell how wet the brush is than the paper. I can always try out the flow of the brush on the palette, or on a piece of practice paper, whereas, until I commit to a stroke on the actual painting, I can't be sure how wet that piece of paper is.

It will take a little while before you have a good sense of how long the paper will stay wet in any given set of conditions, so, for now, I recommend making it too wet. you can adjust how thick the paint is on your brush to compensate for the wetness of the paper, and still get roughly the kind of edge you're after. The density of the paint on the brush is another range of possibilities you will come to know better and better with time. Since so many painters make much paler paintings than they intend, here, too, let's err on the side of too much pigment.

To practice this balancing act, look over the photo you brought home, or find one of your own, and identify a passage that will require wet paper to achieve the edge qualities you see.

This sky is made up of nothing but soft edges. Wetting the page would be the logical first step. How many applications of paint would you need to make while the paper is still wet?

Make a study, or two (or five) of a soft-edged area of your photo, and make notes as you go. Try to identify the source of any difficulties. Was the brush wetter than the paper? How did that happen? Did you get hard edges where you wanted soft? What will you do differently?
Remember, we're not making paintings here. We're making mistakes. The goal is to learn as much as you can. Embarrassment is your ally. As long as you come away with plenty of evidence to sift through, you can't lose.
Have fun.

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