Unusual Watercolor Painting Techniques

A few of the alternative watercolor painting techniques.

The art of watercolor painting is rich in traditional techniques and formality. The usual methods associated with watercolor involve artistry with washes and selected brushes. However, watercolor is a very versatile medium and there are numerous techniques that may be used that fall outside of the conventional.

Painting on wet paper.

Watercolor is one of the most dynamic mediums available to the artist. Experimenting with watercolor can bring about amazing effects.

The process of applying watercolor to wet paper is called the wet-into-wet technique. This is an exciting method of painting, but can produce unpredictable results at first and take some practice.

Take a large brush and wet the paper with clean water. Be careful not to soak the paper but to apply an even distribution of water over the surface. Apply the paint and observe how the paint reacts with wet surface. It will spread out from the point of contact and this can be controlled in a number of ways. You can tilt the paper to control the flow of paint to you can other objects, and even your nails, to draw into the paint. This technique needs quite a bit of practice but can be an exciting and fresh approach to painting in watercolor.

Watercolor and palette knives.

Using a palette knife, usually associated with oil painting, can produce interesting textures on an ordinary piece of watercolor paper. It is suggested that you first try out these techniques on a spare piece of paper before applying them to a painting.

Apply a wash of any dark color to you paper. While the wash is still very wet, take a palette knife and scrape back some of the paint. Use the edge of the palette knife to create lines that remain in the liquid paint after it has dried. In this way you can produce interesting background textures, which can later to add to the overall effect of your painting.

This method can also be used with other objects, including blocks of woods or steel wire. The important thing is to experiment to find out the widest range of possibilities that you may add to your painting repertoire.

Lifting wet color.

This technique involves using absorbent paper or tissue to lift wet paint form the surface of the paper. Make a wash and cover a sheet of paper fairly thickly with paint. Take the absorbent paper and press it firmly against the wet paper. Once you lift the paper you will find patterns remaining on the watercolor paper. Experiment with this technique by bunching the absorbent paper and applying it to the wet paint for different effects.

Note that this technique does not only apply to the creation of textured backgrounds. It can also be applied to a painting in progress. For example, if you are painting a face or portrait, use the lifting technique on parts of the face to obtain specific results. Of course, knowing what results will be obtained requires that you practice the technique until you are proficient in it.

Applying salt and sand and starch.

Both salt and sand are natural materials and can be mixed with paint. Salt dissolves naturally in water and it can also absorb water. These factors open up a host of possibilities when painting with watercolor.

A good example of the potential of salt can be seen in the following example:

Creating a flower with salt.

Apply a flowing wet wash of color to your paper. Add a fair amount of salt to a single spot in the wash. By tilting the paper you can produce flower -like effects or even more abstract shapes.

Working with sand is just as simple and can also add to the quality of your painting. Drop or sprinkle common building sand onto a wet wash. Allow the paint to dry naturally. After it has dried, brush off the sand grains and you should have a grainy texture to your painting. You will also find that coarser sand is better to use, as fine sand will not give you a distinct effect. Once again, practice and experimentation is essential in order to perfect these techniques.

It is always a good idea to prepare swatches of experimental paintings in order to keep a record and improve your technique.

Another elements that can be added to watercolor is starch. Starch will change the consistency of the paint and will also lighten the color. Experiment with a wash mixed with different amounts of starch. Starch spray may also be used for different effects. Depending on the amount of starch used, one can achieve a drybrush effect with watercolor.

Impressing real objects into watercolor.

Impressing real objects into wet paint can be a very exciting method of creating a work of art. However, one should use this technique wisely and with restraint.

This technique works best on smooth or hot-pressed paper. As suggested before, experiment on small swatches of paper before applying this technique.

As an experiment, choose a number of objects. I would suggest something in the line of a leaf, a stick, some string, and a heavy metal object. Next, paint one side of the object you have chosen with a darkish color like umber or sienna. Press the object firmly on the clean paper. Make sure that the paper is dry for the best results. Some object may be slightly oily and repel the water paint. Coat these surfaces with ordinary soap and they should accept the water easily.

Once you have printed your objects onto the surface of the paper, you can begin working into and around these images and create unique watercolor painting.

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