7 Tips To Avoid Wimpy Watercolors

This post may contain affiliate links. I may make a commission if you purchase through them. :)

This is a sort of watery week, and I’m going to focus on watercolor tips again. Sometimes watercolors get a bad rap over being pale, shadowy and less than vibrant.

Some watercolors are soft and diffused, and it may be that’s how the artist chooses to treat the subject. However, there’s absolutely no reason for a watercolor to be wimpy. An artist just needs to take control of his pigments and be the boss. Don’t let your paint dictate your painting. Just give it the push it needs to take your painting to the next level of vibrancy and brilliance.

1. Give Up Student Grade paints

Regardless of the medium or brand, student grade paints are cheaper for a reason. Manufacturers use more filler and less pigment, so student paint just can’t be as rich or deep as the artist’s grade counterpart.

The pigment may not be as finely ground, so it the pigments can’t cluster together as closely. This allows binder and filler to displace more pigment and weaken the appearance of paint on your painting.

Even if you need to purchase fewer tubes, always go with artist grade paints. You’ll see the difference immediately.

2. Use Pure Paint Directly From The Tube

You don’t want to glop blobs of paint on your paper in quite the same manner that you might with acrylic or oil paints, but you can use undiluted paint straight from the tube.

Watercolor paint that’s applied too thickly will crack and chip off the paper. Watercolors are meant to absorb into the fibers of the paper, but with drybrush strokes and small areas used for highlights, pure paint is a sure way to get the darkest darks and brightest hues.

3. Create A Swatch Sheet To Record Color Saturation

Of course, you can simply make a test swatch while you’re painting. Use a scrap of watercolor paper similar to your support to see just how much the paint lightens when it’s dry.

However, even though watercolors dry quickly, this can significantly slow down your painting session if you’re stopping every time you add a different color to your composition.

A better, long lasting solution is to make a chart to record individual colors and how they appear at full strength and at a defined dilution. Even though this may seem to be a tedious exercise, it will give you a permanent record of how individual colors appear that will save time in the long run.

4. Re-Glaze A Section For Increased Depth Of Color

If a painting has wimpy areas after you’ve completed it, it’s possible to go back over the weak areas with another coat of paint. Glazing allows you to darken or alter the color by using the same hue or another color to brighten, tone down or modify it.

In order to do this successfully, the painting must be absolutely dry, you must work quickly and use a light hand so your brush will not to disturb the underlying paint.

5. Use Watercolor Pencils To Add Depth And Richness

You can use watercolor pencils to start your painting, finalize your work or to add accents to specific spots on your composition. Since watercolor pencils are water soluble pigment, they work well as an underlayment or any time during the painting process.

Used on dry paper, your lines appear much as typical colored pencils. You can use them lightly or in a heavy, covering series of strokes that can be left alone or blended with a wet brush. If you moisten the paper before using the pencils, the pigment will bleed out and have a different texture and feel than working on a dry support. These pencils are a fun and easy way to add depth and richness to your painting.

6. Use Permanent Ink To Create A Multimedia Piece

You can add rich dark accents with permanent ink. For the watercolor purest, this option takes the painting into the realm of multimedia, but it’s a surefire way to add deep, dark blacks and add a lot of contrast to your painting.

India ink and a traditional ink pen or brush is common. The new technical pens have a variety of tip sizes available and many have archival inks that are perfect for watercolors.

7. Paint A Monotone Sketch Of Your Composition

By painting a monotone mock-up of your composition, you can instantly see if there is enough contrast of lights and darks. By using only one neutral shade, you can complete this sketch quickly and work out any problems you may have.

If you squint at your painting and it’s just a blur of middle tones, you don’t have enough contrast. Make sure that you have both light accents and dark areas to give your painting life. By using the monotone sketch and the squinting tip, you’ll see if your composition has eye appeal even before you begin with the full color

Wimpy paintings say ‘I’m a novice painter and I’m unsure of what I’m doing.’ A dynamic, bold painting shows confidence and self-assurance. Go be a daring, energetic painter and show off your style.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *