Let Your Watercolors Blend Themselves

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When you’re mixing colors on your palette, it’s easy to wind up with a muddy mess.

To keep your colors crisp, clear and clean, let your paints mix naturally on your support for a fresh and spontaneous look.

Things like Controlled Chaos, Supports, Composition Planning and Spritz… Let’s jump in…

Controlled Chaos

When you’re allowing your paints to blend themselves, it’s not a chaotic, abstract guessing game. You’re going to control where and how much paint and water you’re using, and preserve areas of your support in its natural color.

Angle Your Support

This method of painting is best suited for use with your painting surface set at a low angle. If you’re trying to do this with your support standing on a vertical easel, you’re likely to wind up with most of your paint in a puddle on the floor.

Whether you’re using an easel that allows you to adjust the angle to nearly horizontal or just prop your support up a bit off your table, you should be able to quickly reposition the paper to control and move the paint.

Plan Your Composition

Even if you’re not big on structured, detailed drawing, it doesn’t hurt to lay down your basic composition so you can see where best to use this method and where you want to maintain control.

Use a soft lead pencil and sketch out your main components. Once you’re satisfied with your composition, use masking fluid to block areas that will either painted later or will be left unpainted. Make sure to use enough masking fluid to seal the paper, but only use a throw-away or old brush reserved for applying masking fluid. You’ll surely ruin a good brush, as the rubbery fluid is very difficult to remove completely.

A Little Spritz Will Do

When you’re ready to begin your spontaneous blending, you should have your colors in a liquid state and a spray bottle of clear water. Using this pouring method, you work fairly quickly to allow the pigments to blend and then sit back and wait for the paint to dry.

Spray the area of the painting you want to start on with water to moisten the surface, but not enough to puddle up. Then pour, drip or splatter the paints and allow them to blend naturally.

You can aid the procedure by tipping your support to coax the water/paint mixture to move across the paper. You may want to spray water over your paint to encourage blending and to diffuse the intensity of the color.

Use a brush bristles, your finger or the stick end of your brush to drag color across the page, if necessary.

Know When To Stop Fiddling With Your Paint

As the paint starts to dry, stop messing with it. If you’re planning on adding further detail or add things to the foreground, go ahead. But quit messing with the natural blending that’s already been created.

You can’t remove the masking fluid until the paper is completely dry. It can be removed with a rubber pad made especially for this purpose, or you can use an eraser or even your finger to rub away the dried fluid.

If your spontaneous colors are too bright, you can add further detail to the area to bring down the intensity. Camouflaging the too-bright area with a little more detail or brushstrokes, rather than trying to remove it, allows the colors to shine from behind and give the piece a subtle coloration.

This method works best with liquid, water mediums, so you can have fun with this method when you’re using acrylics as well as watercolors. Using this technique gives you a chance to loosen up a little and give in to happy accidents and unplanned opportunities.

Every painting may not be a smashing success, but with a little practice, you’ll get the hang of where and when to use this fun and spontaneous painting method.

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