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Old 03-13-2016, 09:47 AM   #1
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Default Let the water do the work for you: Watercoloring

Well, my water doesn't want to work for me!!

How come other people's water moves around and blends so nicely? Mine just sits there and I get a line where I want the colors to blend. I try plopping water first, then watercolor paint, but it's too light colored. If I drown my paper, it gets yucky and the colors mix too much.

Today I embossed a flower with gold embossing powder and used a watercolor marker to color in the petal (I put the color on to the dry paper and then used my aqua brush with some water to pull the color outward. It worked so-so but it's still not what I want.)

I've got to be missing something. It looks so easy on YouTube! LOL! Or I have water that's lazy!
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Old 03-13-2016, 09:57 AM   #2
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Are you drying between shades and colors and layering? I like putting the color on my brush. More control. I have always been an impatient colorer. ( is that a word?). Little at a time, layering. Drying inbetween brings me more success. Dont do as much as I'd like because time is always against me. Good luck.
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Old 03-13-2016, 01:32 PM   #3
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try to add a colour...blend it then add another colour on top when the first one is dry. To intensify the colour that is already there, add more of the same on top when dry. I agree with estamps...drying in between will really help I think.
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Old 03-13-2016, 03:19 PM   #4
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Well, my water doesn't want to work for me!!

How come other people's water moves around and blends so nicely? Mine just sits there and I get a line where I want the colors to blend. I try plopping water first, then watercolor paint, but it's too light colored. If I drown my paper, it gets yucky and the colors mix too much.

I've got to be missing something. It looks so easy on YouTube! LOL! Or I have water that's lazy!
I hear you I had my first success yesterday with the intersection of amount of water on paper/type or amount of color/appropriate moisture on brush and I've been at this for at least nine months!

So between totally dry paper and soaking it, there is a happy medium and I think it just takes practice. The way they apply the water (mister bottle or brush dipped in water) and the type of paper they are using ( heavy or light weight watercolor, hot or cold press) has an effect on how it turns out.

Also, if you are wetting the paper and the colors are mixing too much, you may be 1) using a bit too much water for the paper you're using or 2) tilting it too much or 3) you may be allowing the curl in the paper after the water is added to direct the paint/inks.

Maybe try taping your paper down first? Try a light mist of water and then on the next one, try adding a bit more water to see how the ink or paint acts. Depending on how much water you put on your paper, it can be just a slight dab of color to start the paint/ink moving. That is what I discovered and how I kept these areas intact on this card I did yesterday:
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Old 03-13-2016, 08:31 PM   #5
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Dorie95, what kind of paper are you using?
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Old 03-14-2016, 05:59 AM   #6
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The "line" is what you get when there is too much water. That is the edge where the water and color medium is the heaviest and the color pools and dries with a hard edge. A simple solution until you learn how much water you need is to keep a paper towel handy to wick up the extra water.

To control the ink and water, I prefer to pick the color up with the brush and not color directly onto the paper. I also pick up water from the palate and then dab some of the water off onto the paper towel. When I was learning to watercolor I found I had more control with less water.
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Old 03-14-2016, 06:02 AM   #7
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This is a super thread. I am picking up some good hints for success with watercoloring. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-14-2016, 06:08 AM   #8
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I was going to ask the same question that Dina asked...what kind of paper.

Even within watercolor papers there's lots of differences, and mostly it's in the sizing. Some papers have so much that it is impossible to accomplish different techniques. This is an area where trying different papers is a good idea.
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Old 03-14-2016, 01:27 PM   #9
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Old 03-15-2016, 04:10 AM   #10
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It's hard without seeing your technique and your results, and without knowing what supplies you're using... Paper can be an issue, as well as the type/brand of paint... each brand of watercolor paint or medium (markers, pencils, etc.) has a different way of reacting with water. Some will sit in the water and some will really move - one isn't better than the other -- it's just a matter of getting to know your supplies to know which one does what, which takes time and practice.

You've got some good tips here. I keep a paper towel handy when I'm painting to wick up extra water or pigment or dab along the edge of a painted area. You can blend color out with a lightly dampened, clean brush to avoid hard edges as well.

Allowing layers to dry will prevent some of the hard edges too - if you add more paint over wet paint, you're more likely to spark a revival and create a hard edge where you don't want it. It's better to let a piece air dry rather than force it dry with a heat tool - the heat tool can actually push paint into a hard edge.
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Old 03-15-2016, 02:44 PM   #11
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Great thread. I am learning tons too!
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:34 PM   #12
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Thanks so much for all the ideas and tips.

The paper I'm using isn't the best, I know. Since I'm just starting I am using 119# essentials 5X7 pad, then I used the watercolor pencil art pad from my pencil set Faber Castell. Lastly I found a used Bee paper company professional series drawing paper pad that's 93# "for use with wet and dry media" at the Goodwill and that's what I mainly use for experiments!

Today I spent a lot of time just playing. I stamped and embossed some lilies and did a card front with a hummingbird and some small flowered branches. I was pretty satisfied with the lilies, and I realized that I over-work my images. I over-work and over-think, one of my things. I learned today to have patience and let stuff dry, that was a big problem.

The hummingbird looks kind of cool, greens, blues, purples that blended better than the one I made the other day. I had to stop myself from mixing the colors too much and just dab a little and leave it. I did use a paper towel to take off too much color and that worked good.

I am now obsessed with making this work. I love the look and tomorrow I'm going to go and buy some better paper.
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Old 03-15-2016, 06:40 PM   #13
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Dorie, thank you for starting this post. A lot of us have similar issues with watercoloring - gosh, it looks so darn easy on those videos! Thanks for sharing your experience and it sounds as if you are well on the way to success.
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:51 AM   #14
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Old 03-17-2016, 04:57 AM   #15
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Old 03-17-2016, 05:05 AM   #16
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I'm "subbing" because Splitcoast will let me know by email if someone posts again to this thread. That way I am up to date on all the replies for a subject. This happened when you asked your question. I love the option!
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Old 03-17-2016, 06:06 AM   #17
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I think several things or a combination may be the problem. First, buy good paper. Makes a huge difference. You only use a tiny bit per card so go for it! The water will stay wet longer and allow you to continue to blend or apply flat washes for longer. I've been working on paper that comes by the sheet which I had cut down at the art store. So it must be pretty good quality tho I don't remember because I bought it many years ago. Then I tried another paper, also bought a long time ago that says 'not for wet in wet techniques'. Bad sign. It's crap and makes a HUGE difference.

Second, you say that if you have enough water for a smooth blend then the colour is too pale. You'll need less water on good paper. Also Watercolours aren't that dark unless you apply more than one layer. If you want dark colours or very bright ones, sponging or acrylics may be a better answer for you. But buying good quality highly pigmented paints makes a huge difference. For a fairly decent price, gansai tambi paints are quite pigmented. Not very translucent so that may or may not suit you but the colours sure aren't pale!

Thirdly, make sure when you are applying the paint that you don't allow the edge of the paint to dry until you finish the area. Drying paint leaves a hard line. If you are doing a large background and working across and down the page, try to work in sections if possible. And keep that leading edge wet. For instance, if you are working around a flower, work one side then the other rather than doing both sides at the same time. And try to work so the leading edge is as small as possible. For instance, if I was painting a 4x6 panel, I'd work with it in portrait orientation so the leading edge is 4" across rather than 6" across. Smaller edge to keep wet.

Fourth, buy decent brushes. They will hold more pigment and water meaning less dipping back into the paint so you can get more done more quickly before the paint starts to dry. See a theme here? Good quality (not super expensive tho) yields better results. Try your local big box store and use those coupons!! And use a brush that's the right shape and size for a wash. While you can do a decent job with any round brush, I prefer a flat brush that's appropriately sized for the area I'm painting. 3/4" for A2 sized backgrounds and up from there. The faster the paint goes on the better. So don't use a dinky little brush and expect good results!

A couple other things to mention. Always mix up enough paint for the entire surface and then some extra to be sure. Even if you are using a colour straight from the tube without blending more than one colour to get your hue, mix the quantity you need with enough water so you don't have to mix a new batch in the middle. You will always get a new percentage of water to paint if you have to remix. That will leave a line.

The other thing that can be undesirable when painting a flat wash is a bloom. A bloom is when you get a light area almost like a sunburst where water pushes the paint away and out to the edges. This is caused by letting the paint go from wet to damp (I'll explain in a minute) then adding a less pigmented paint next to it. Which can happen when you run out of paint and have to mix more water in with new paint to finish. If that new paint is less concentrated, you may get a bloom. Wet paper has a shine to it when you tilt the paper into the light. Damp paper feels cool to the touch but has lost its shine. Don't work with your painting when it's damp unless you WANT a bloom. I like them sometimes, they can be pretty. I love then for sunsets and pretty backgrounds where I don't want a specific look or shape. So if the paper starts to dry too quickly, leave it to fully dry and try to fix it then. You might not be able to fix it but your chances are better than trying to work it when it's damp.

I'd recommend you take the Online Card Class Watercolour intermediate. Don't worry if you are a beginner, the class is simple to follow and I really think it should have been called intro to artistic watercolour considering the previous class (watercolour for paper crafters -I think) is more crafty rather than artsy.

And watch sandy allnocks videos. She's had a ton on watercolour lately. No matter how well I describe it, a video is better. She has also been doing a watercolour intro series on the Ellen Hutson blog every Sunday for the last 3 Sundays and one of the first posts included a video on flat washes.

Best wishes and happy painting!

Last edited by Rebecca Ednie; 03-17-2016 at 06:10 AM..
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:38 AM   #18
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Count this as another vote for Sandy Allnock's You Tube videos. She is not only an accomplished artist but a wonderful teacher, able to take herself back to Beginner Mode and go from there. Her watercolor series has been most helpful for this beginner.

Just another suggestion learned the hard way: buy quality materials right from the get-go. There's no greater help than a good watercolor brush, name brand watercolor paper, and good paints. Store brands have yielded nothing but poor results, wasted money and frustration to the max. Professional grade supplies are not necessary for a hobbyist but student grade will drive you away from learning a new skill that, in your heart, you know you can do.
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:56 AM   #19
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Wow! I am so grateful for all the wonderful responses to my post! Just another reason why this place is so awesome.

I have watched Sandy's videos and I think that's what got me started in the beginning to try watercoloring. There are just so many techniques that inspire me and give me joy when I can make them look reasonably good.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:04 AM   #20
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I so agree. This place is awesome.
Got to check out Allnock's videos

Thanks to all
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Old 03-18-2016, 04:43 PM   #21
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Ok Im confused -- what does "subbing" mean here. This is the second post of it.
At the top of each Thread (conversation), look at the options on the right. If you click on THREAD TOOLS, one of your options is SUBSCRIBE TO THIS THREAD. You are notified each time someone posts within that thread.
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Old 03-19-2016, 03:56 PM   #22
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I just took a watercolor class and we used Arches 300 lb. paper and professional water colors and good brushes. Makes all the difference using good products.
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Old 03-20-2016, 07:36 AM   #23
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the CLASSroom: Watercolor with Sandy Allnock

Sandi All Coke has videos on Ellen Hutson's blog that are great to watch.
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Old 03-20-2016, 08:03 AM   #24
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Well, my water doesn't want to work for me!!

How come other people's water moves around and blends so nicely? Mine just sits there and I get a line where I want the colors to blend. I try plopping water first, then watercolor paint, but it's too light colored. If I drown my paper, it gets yucky and the colors mix too much.

Today I embossed a flower with gold embossing powder and used a watercolor marker to color in the petal (I put the color on to the dry paper and then used my aqua brush with some water to pull the color outward. It worked so-so but it's still not what I want.)

I've got to be missing something. It looks so easy on YouTube! LOL! Or I have water that's lazy!
Totally get where you are coming from, which is why I'm still in the "baby stage" of watercoloring - doing cool backgrounds.

That being said, I've been glomming on watercolor technique videos and have picked up some tips that might help you with one of the issues you mentioned. Specifically, how to watercolor a heat embossed image.

This is what I learned. To get the color to flow naturally, you need to carefully paint the inside of the embossed image with water first, then touch the wet area with the watercolor medium. The color will flow wherever it is wet, so it is important to not have water anywhere outside the lines of the embossing. I think I saw this on a Jen McQuire video (she does awesome tutorials!)
Another thing you might try is scribbling the watercolor pen on acetate and picking up the color with your aqua brush and then applying to the embossed image.
To summarize, my guess is that that the reason the color sits right where you put it on the embossed image is that the paper is too dry and sucks the color into the fibers. Then when you do apply water, it's too late to activate the color. Hope this makes sense.

I'm absorbing all of the info that your questions have inspired. Thanks for asking them!
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Old 03-20-2016, 01:57 PM   #25
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I've reread this thread a bunch of times just for all the info that's here. I appreciate all the tips and tricks. I have realized that one big thing I wasn't doing and that was not waiting for the water to absorb into the paper before applying the paint.

I'm using a better quality paper and I think if I continue to want to improve my watercoloring I'll buy some better paints, too.

Love the way the colors blend and the finished look. It seems so relaxing even when I'm watching other people do it!!
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Old 03-24-2016, 07:50 PM   #26
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I have always liked the look of watercolor, but was a bust at it until I used a aqua painter. Not "true" watercoloring, I'm sure, but I'm actually a stamper and card maker and not a watercolorist, so it works for me. I use crayons, pencils, reinkers and highly concentrated watercolors, depending on the results or the amount I have to do. The aqua painter gives a continuous flow of water for quite a long time before the barrel needs to be squeezed. I find I can blend and deepen, or even do detail. To me watercoloring is supposed to look somewhat imprecise, so I'm happy with my results. That being said, I did buy the most expensive aqua brush I could find as after using a cheap one I could immediately tell the difference.
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:41 PM   #27
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Interesting in which aqua brush you purchased that made a difference? Also what was the first one you tried and didn't like as much.

Thanks
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Old 03-25-2016, 03:07 PM   #28
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The brand I like, and there may be others just as good, is Kuretake Co. made in Japan. The ones I didn't like, I can't say, as I gave them/threw them away. Sorry not to be of more help.
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Old 03-25-2016, 03:52 PM   #29
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Those are the ones I use too. You may also find them marketed as Niji brand or Zig BrusH2O. The best price I've found is here (scroll down):

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Old 03-25-2016, 04:20 PM   #30
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Wow! That's a lot cheaper than I paid. Been wanting some extras, so may just order here. TFS!
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