Wet-into-wet: A Short Guide to an Essential Watercolor Technique

Today we are taking a look at a very challenging technique – working with a wet brush onto a wet surface.

Applying the method you can either get something striking or spoil a piece of paper.

The Magic of Blurring

Watercolor pigments are soluble, that is their main feature.

The more liquid you add, the more transparent and luminous the colors become, the better they blend. As diluted paints flow, a natural gradient is created.

The spellbinding process is very hard to control: sometimes you have to make ten little mistakes to achieve the desired effect.

On the other hand, the surprises may be to the good. Little accidents often provide unexpected opportunities.

Wet-in-wet method is great for painting:

  • backgrounds;
  • translucent shadows;
  • objects that have soft, fluffy texture (let’s say, a cloud or a Persian cat);
  • abstract images.

There are artists, who paint their artworks in the technique from beginning to end.  I like the example:

How to Paint on Damp Paper?

The outcome of wet-in-wet watercolors depends on many factors.

First of all, it’s important to choose the right art supplies. Use expensive cold-pressed paper with 300-400 GSM. The paper absorbs water quickly enough. It shouldn’t be too rough, otherwise, colors will spread poorly.

And don’t try to save money when buying paints. For example, Winsor & Newton, M. Graham & Co, Sonnet are good watercolors to work with.<

I have five more tips for you:

  1. Create a preliminary version of your picture without the expectation of a great result.  You need several minutes to analyze it and pick the necessary colors out.
  2. Start with the boldest strokes, then make layers subtle and pale.
  3. Moisten only the area you’re going to touch with a brush within the next few minutes. If the whole surface is shiny wet, too many undefined shapes will appear. Imagine, that water is a sort of watercolor. Paint with water.
  4. Carefully wash the sharp edges of smudges (except in the case the effect is appropriate, of course).
  5. Keep calm and give paper time to dry after each stage of work.

Writing the post, I remembered an interesting trick. I’ve read about it somewhere on Maria Stezhko’s blog (http://mariastezhko.blogspot.com/).

The watercolorist speeds up the process of wet-in-wet painting with the aid of… hair dryer.

Try to use the technique and share your impressions!

Helen Dickinson
Helen Dickinson

Hi! I am Helen, an artist. My favorite art supplies are watercolor paints, brushes and paper, but I also enjoy experimenting with the other materials. Maybe, my knowledges will be useful for you.

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