Traditional Art Week at projecteducate continues! During Artist's Toolbox weeks, I've published articles dedicated to watercolor tools (Watercolor Equipment I - Basic Tools, Watercolor Equipment II - Additional Tools). Current series of articles is focusing on painting methods, previously published Watercolor Techniques I article can be found HERE. I sincerely hope these will motivate some of you to try something new and wish you all happy painting!
Wet-into-wet is another versatile and popular technique where watercolor, or water, is dropped onto a wet surface. This is a great technique to use for creating the illusion of a soft out of focus background in your painting. The soft, flowing, complex or random effects possible with wet in wet techniques are the unique signature of the watercolor medium. Even acrylics, though they can be diluted into glazes or slopped around in watery patterns, can't match the expressive textures of diffusion, pigment granulation and color gradation possible with a watery gum arabic vehicle on paper.
A piece of watercolor paper, preferably stretched
A brush (any size)
Two different color paints
Jar of water, a tissue to wipe your brush with
▲ How to:
First apply clean water to the area you will be painting (you can use a sponge, or a spray bottle). When the sheen is almost gone, begin painting in your colors. You can also place water on top of the colors to create more effects. For best results, keep the values of your colors close to the same. Also, wait for the sheen to be almost gone before dropping another color on top of a previous one. Otherwise, your surface will be too wet and the colors may not create the right effect.
Being able to predict the results you're going to get working wet-on-wet takes practice, but as this technique can produce spectacular, lively paintings it's well worth experimenting with it. It's particularly useful for suggesting movement in a painting and for diffusing shapes when you don't want too much detail. Make up a file of your various attempts with notes on the colors you used (some pigments collect on the paper's surface, creating more of a texture than others), how dilute the second color you added was, how wet the first layer was, and what paper you used.
▲ Wet-in-Dry comparison
Painting wet-on-wet the colors will spread into one another, producing soft edges and blending, whereas painting wet-on-dry produces sharp edges to shapes. Knowledge of these two techniques can also help prevent you from being frustrated by the paint not doing what you expect. If you want sharp edges to what you're painting, then any paint already put down on the paper must be dry before you paint another shape. If it is completely dry, then the shape will stay exactly as you'd painted it. If it isn't completely dry, the new layer will diffuse into the first.