If you have been learning to paint watercolor for a while, you have probably found that there are overwhelming numbers of techniques being used by the top masters. Obviously, no one can learn all at once, not mention to practice them into mastery. So what are the absolutely necessary key techniques that a watercolor artist must have? In this newsletter, I would like to share a few key techniques, using a small studio painting sample below.
KEY #1: USING WATER PROPERLY
It is easy said than done, isn't it? We all know that water is the lifeblood of a watercolor painting. However, the knowledge of how much is the "right" amount, and when to apply to the painting, is the secret key that all pro masters are holding in their hands. To achieve the ideal visual result during the painting process, an artist must constantly adjust the amount of water and pigments for different visual expressions. Here are a few notes explains some water and pigments ratio I used for my desired results.
KEY #2: MIXING COLORS ON PAPER
This technique is another key secret to create translucent and vibrate watercolor paintings without much effort. When a few fresh colors applied directly onto the paper surface, assisted by the power of water and gravity, watercolor pigments can be mingled together freely and achieve amazing results. Beautiful subtle color variations can also be achieved by using complementary colors directly on the paper: just altering the ratio of warm and cool pigments with the right amount of water can create some unexpected beauties. By contrast, a painting would show dull or muddy result if colors are applied with overworked mixtures and layers. Can you see those mingled color results below?
KEY #3 MAKING VALUES WORK
Values, the relative darkness or lightness of the colors, is an important tool for artists because it defines visual forms and creates spatial illusion effectively. However, as artists, we have instinct love for colors, tend to pay less attention to values while we paint. The pro masters often do the opposite: they would design and paint with values in mind. What makes a painting work, is the design of using proper values associated with colors. Compare the gray scale and color version of the painting below, you can tell how the colors associated with correct values made this painting work.
Practice getting comfortable with these three techniques and you’ll see great improvement in your watercolor paintings.
Shuang Li is an artist and instructor living in California. If you want to see Shuang work through all of these ideas, check out her new Creative Catalyst video (with different subject matter than above), "Fearless Waterscapes."
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