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Thursday, January 28, 2016

A Simple Tip to Improve Watercolor Underpaintings

'Just Add Sunshine'      6x6     pastel         ©Karen Margulis
available  $75
I read about a great watercolor tip yesterday and had to give it a try. The watercolorists out there will probably laugh at my naiveté about watercolors but it was an AHA moment for me so I thought I would share it.

If you are like me you may have experienced less than satisfactory watercolor underpaintings as a set up for pastels. Mine were always pale and washed out. I couldn't get the punch I wanted. I got some artist quality watercolors and that helped some. I also learned to paint darker and more intense than I wanted. With practice my underpaintings have improved. But this new tip might just help me even more.

'Sunny Days'      4x4      pastel      $45
 WATERCOLOR TIP:  I like to use pan watercolors for my underpaintings. Using tube paints can often lead to the paint being applied too thick. I want to be careful to keep the paint thin so it doesn't fill the tooth of the paper. Pans help but here is the tip.......Spritz the pan paints with water before starting to paint. Allowing the paint to be pre-wet will result in more vibrant color.

I tried this tip with a set of cheap watercolors. The pre-wet color was indeed more vibrant. I will have to give it a try with my good watercolor set. I do carry a small spritz bottle with my watercolors. I use  it to create interest and texture. Now I will also use it to pre-wet the paint.

Sampling some inexpensive watercolors
Painting notes: the two daisy paintings are both painted on Uart paper with watercolor underpaintings.


Sue Corcoran said...

Hi Karen
That's a good tip. I have heard it before (but keep forgetting about it!) in relation to Urban Sketching - using tube colours in pans in a small w/c palette tin is obviously advantageous for carrying equipment economically, and I take one of those small atomiser bottles with me. It's also useful to take the atomiser top off and dip the brush if necessary.
Have you come across Brusho? It's been available here in England for a few years so I would imagine it would be in the US by now. It is in crystal form, more like an ink pigment. You can mix it, or sprinkle it into wet areas and it holds the colour - really vibrant! You can also apply bleach to it in order to lift areas. I have a friend who uses it a lot. Haven't bought it yet myself, (it's on my list) but I'm thinking it would be great for pastel underpainting.
Loving all your pictures - the big ones look like quite an adventure! - Sue

pattisjarrett said...

I had forgotten that, too. Thanks! Your paintings turned out beyond beautiful, as always.

robertsloan2art said...

I've never tried that, not in painting or underpainting. Seems like it'd work and make everything more intense, just haven't had the situation to do it where I'd be able to fold up a damp palette and let it dry without going on end and running all over.

I've got friends who tried Brusho and got very bold results, intense and bright. Might try it someday, thanks Sue!

Tim Moore said...

i use tube w/c and put some on a piece of masonite to mix, use. will try spritzing them with water before hand but sometimes i do like the thickness of the paint..