All of us dream of long uninterrupted painting days. A large sheet of 300lb paper saturated and ready to take the paint.
But who are we kidding?! Life!
Between visiting grand kids and a day job, some weeks painting is only 15-minutes here and there. So does that mean the wet-in-wet style is off limits? Only hard edges for the rest of time?
Not at all, says Barbara Nechis in her workshop Watercolor From Within. The key to short time is learning to rewet your paper.
Nechis works on 140lb paper, which dries faster than 300lb and she likes that. It means she doesn’t have to rely on large blocks of time in order to get her soft edges.
Instead she relies on consistent rewetting of her watercolor paper to create her soft passages. She saturates her 140 lb paper first with a large brush to begin her work. When it starts to dry out, she lets it dry completely and then re-saturates by dipping it in clean water. With her paper wet, she drops in transparent colors and gets beautiful wet-into-wet passages.
While Nechs paints, she stays vigilant for the signs of her paper becoming too dry. One of those signs is a hard edge. When that happens, she first softens the edge by feathering it out a bit with clean water. Not too much or she’ll create a bloom. Just enough to soften the hard edge.
Next she has a decision to make. She can move to an area that is still moist enough to work or she can risk adding clean water to the drying section with a brush and continue painting. She’s comfortable dong both.
However, if neither of those is quite right, she has the patience to let the paper completely dry and then resaturates (again by dipping it in a tub of clean water) and continue her wet-into-wet process.
“What I have done is sealed the surface,” says Nechis. “What that means is when I start painting again. It’s as if I’m on a new sheet of paper.“
Because she’s mastered these skills, Nechis knows that even when her goal is wet-into-wet soft edges she doesn’t have to rush. If her paper begins to dry either because she’s thinking about what’s next or because the doorbell rings, she knows she can simply dry the paper, and when she’s ready to begin painting again, rewet it and start again.
“This method is really good for people who don’t have long blocks of time or are painting very large,” says Nechis.
So if you love the soft edges of wet-into-wet watercolor, master the technique of rewetting your paper. It will give you the freedom of using wet-into-wet techniques without needing to clear out half a day for painting before you begin.
Learn more about Watercolor From Within.
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