Watercolor Techniques

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One of the projects I have been working on are what I call my ‘watercolor quote paintings’. I am stockpiling them in the hopes of opening a shop on etsy. They are fun, therapeutic pieces to work on. Here are four different ways in which to block in the colors in the backgrounds.

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First, I search for quotes that inspire me. I retype the quotes in inDesign and choose the font that seems to fit and change the sizing and spacing until it looks good. I save a jpg and open it up in preview. Then I place my watercolor paper over my screen, turn the screen as bright as it goes, and go into a dark room. Using a permanent marker, I trace the letters on the paper. Depending on the idea I’ve got for the painting, sometimes I fill the letters in, and sometimes I just trace the outline.

Tie Dye Technique

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This is a fun tie-dye look that is really easy to accomplish. I begin by deciding on which colors I am going to use. I try not to use complimentary colors when using this technique because the colors will run together. Using clean water, I paint the shape of what I want the background to look like. I like there to be enough water that it still flows if I run my brush through it.

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Then I take one of my selected colors, water it down on my palette, and dip a large brush in the paint. I just dab in random places around the paper and let the paint flow.

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Then I water down my second color on my palette. I dip my brush in that color and dab this second color wherever the first color didn’t flow.

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The paint will flow and move and overlap as it chooses, so I just set the painting aside to dry and let it do it’s thing.

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Dry Brushing Technique

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After tracing my letters on to my paper, I select the colors I will use and water them down on my palette. I try to keep them from being super runny, just moist enough to be able to pick up the pigment on a brush.

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I then take a large, dry brush with rough bristles and dip it into the first color of paint. I brush the paint onto the paper. Then I let it dry slightly before beginning on the next color.

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Repeat the steps used with the first color on the second and third colors.

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With this piece, I added a few more watered down color blocks at the top and the bottom of the quote to add some more flow and contrast between rough and smooth.

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Salt Technique

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Follow the same steps as the Tie Dye Technique. While the paint is still wet, like in the picture shown above, sprinkle regular table salt throughout the painting.

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While it’s still wet, you will see the salt granules soaking up the paint pigments. Let the painting dry. When it has dried completely, using your hand, brush off the salt granules. You will be left with little snowflakey star shapes all over the painting.

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White Lettering

When tracing the letters onto the paper, I trace only the outline. I like to make a thick, kind of shaky outline to give the letters some volume and texture. I then use a product called liquid frisket and paint that onto the whites of the letters and let it dry entirely. The frisket will block the paint from staining the paper where the letters are.

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After the frisket is totally dry, I paint on my background, right over the letters. In this case, I just painted a flowing gradient of rainbow colors. After the paint has dried totally, I then use an eraser and rub it over the frisket on the letters. The frisket peels off, revealing white letters.

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