3 Things I Have Learned About Watercolor

I recently started to explore watercolor. I am not clear exactly why I picked up the paint brush and decided to add watercolor to my process. However, I have found that it really has helped me to add more realism to my work and speed up my process. It is also a way for me to quickly create backgrounds. I feel like adding backgrounds to my work is making my work feel like more of a complete project. As I am exploring this watercolor thing, I am finding that I am becoming obsessed as watercolor is complex like colored pencils are. I am finding myself soaking up any blog article, YouTube video or looking for watercolor classes to help me explore even further. In this new journey of mine, I am coming across things that are huge learnings that I want to share with all of you that might be just starting on your journey with watercolors. I hope these points will help you start out with a more confidence than I did.

First thing I found that I have fallen in love with watercolor is the ability to mix colors to get to the color you want. As you know I am a big colored pencil person. Typically, I layer a few (to many) colored pencils to get to the color I want. Yes, therefore colored pencil projects take longer to create because you need to make several layers of color to fill in the tooth of the paper. Watercolor, on the other hand, easily fills the tooth of the paper and you can get to the color you want in the first layer by simply mixing it before you put it on the paper. I have also learned that the color changes when watercolor dries but another awesome thing about watercolor is that you can add another layer on top and layer it up just like colored pencils. It is fun to mix the colors and plan out your project’s color palette before starting the project. Usually when I start a colored pencil project, I pull out several pencils that I believe will work but I need to make sure that I layer the exact same way across the project to get the color I am looking for. Mixing watercolor is so easy and simple to ensure the right color is going to be used across the entire project.

I have also learned that there are some colors have pigments that stain the paper and others don’t. Those that don’t allow you to “lift” the color if you make mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes as I am learning, so I was amazed and happy to learn that if I need to correct a mistake with a not staining pigment, I just go back to the mistake with a brush with clean water then dab it with a towel to get back to the white of the paper. When I figured this out, I did a major happy dance! This works even when the watercolor paint is completely dry--I have added water and lifted the color right up. I have also learned that some colors dry darker than I expected but I found that I can pull some of the color back out by simply adding water to the areas that are too dark--amazing. Quickly I can get those highlights right back as if I erased them.

However, I think the most important things I am learning about watercolor is both water control and understanding how much water is necessary for the effect I am looking for. I am having fun making interesting backgrounds using wet on wet layers. It creates nice soft splashes of color that fade into the background. They are beautiful blends but don't stand out and steal the show. I am also learning how to create interesting effects by letting it dry to it is almost dry but not quite and then use a really wet brush with another color and you can create some really nice cauliflower rings that look interesting but again does not steal the focus of the subject but adds to the overall composition.

I am finding myself really obsessed with understanding more about watercolor just like I felt when I started falling in love with colored pencils. I am seeing how watercolor is truly enhancing my colored pencil work. Not only do I love how it quickly fills in the tooth of the paper, or how it’s helping me add beautiful backgrounds, it is also helping me to create some really beautiful colors that I didn’t know I could make by simply mixing colors together. I am finding it is adding another level of fun in my process. Playing with paints and coming up with awesome colors is exciting. I feel like a little kid when I make a color that makes me squeal like a little girl. I get so giddy and I get all excited when I put it on the paper. I recently created a beautiful buttery yellow and knew I had to use it. It was so satisfying to paint it on my project that I couldn't stop staring at it while it was drying. I think I am turning into a watercolor nerd. Eh oh well, I am happy to be one if I can pick up a paint brush every day because I will be a happy girl.

Every day I am learning something about watercolor. I cannot wait to see what is around the next corner when I watercolor my next project. Let me know if you are having fun with watercolor. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned from exploring watercolor?

What's happening in the Corner . . .

Has colder weather arrived where you live? Do you find yourself inside trying to stay warm? Why not pick up some knitting needles and start knitting a warm scarf. Hey, hold the presses, we don't knit here we color. So join us this month as we pick up our markers, colored pencils, and/or watercolors and learn to create a knit texture on paper!

If you are reading this after we moved on to the next technique, you can find the Work-at-Your-Own-Pace Practice for Texture:Knit here.

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