I remember in high school painting with watercolor. That’s all I remember . . . other than it was hard and difficult to control. I instead switched to oil painting and really felt like I was a master. Heck, I could paint something, leave it for the day, then come back and with a new vision, see my mistakes and still make a change! Genius! No wonder so many people painted in oil paints, it sure wasn’t because they smelled good!
Fast forward a couple of decades. I decided to try watercolors again. There were a lot of artists so there must be a method to master the many changes that occur to a subject when painting it. After attending a couple of workshops by two different instructors, I still didn’t learn the secrets of watercolor painting that seem to elude me. Drat.
I didn’t give up, I was determined to learn what the secret was about watercolor painting. It just couldn’t be that watercolor artists were much more skilled than artists that worked with other mediums. No one could be so good with painting something the first time that mistakes aren’t made and corrections aren’t needed. Finally, I found someone to share the various tips and tricks of watercolor painting. Now many years later, and many commissions and paintings later, I am in awe of how many times that I’ve made corrections to eyes or teeth, yet the final result is void of any telltale evidence.
Here are my bits of wisdom in making corrections to watercolor paintings.
1. Always start with the lightest layer and build your color up. It’s easier to add than it is to take away, especially if you are working with Phthalocyanine Blue Red Shade (or any other staining color)!
2. Layer your paintings. Paint the entire subject in layers building up as you go. This is important because it allows you to see the “big picture” and balance your colors thus avoiding corrections.
3. When lifting, lay down your water and let it sit a few seconds before you blot it with a paper towel.
4. Again with lifting, if you need to scrub the paper, don’t litterly scrub the paper, instead gently rub the paper using a scrubber, then blot with a paper towel. If you get too ambitious and rough up the paper, take the back of a spoon and rub it over the paper. This smooths the fibers resulting in a smoother surface receptive of paint.
5. After lifting and before reapplying paint, let the paper completely dry. If you don’t, the new paint will bleed into the newly rubbed paper. The lifting process disturbs the fibers in the paper causing them to stand up and absorb more paint than before. Letting the paper dry allows the fibers to relax.
6. Lifting and corrections can be made with a stiff synthetic brush or a specialty brush called a scrubber. Various sizes can be used for different applications. If you need to even out the edge of your subject, a thin flat brush would work best.
Also take into consideration the weight of your paper when lifting. 300# will hold up better to repeated lifting than 140# will.
So, my life has come full circle with the belief that watercolor is hard. Now that I know the tips and tricks of making changes, I can now wait till tomorrow to make a change. In fact, waiting a day is even better (so that the paint thoroughly dries)!