Friday, August 14, 2009


"Watercolor is a medium of beguiling ironies. It takes great skill to control, yet must appear to be free of control. Physically it needs room to move easily, but without running away. Painting in watercolor requires a disciplined approach that at the same time does not stifle the results. You might compare the experience of applying a watercolor wash to that of throwing a ball a long distance and being there, perhaps a little out of breath, to catch it just at the right time." --- David Dewey
from his 1995 book, The Watercolor Book: Materials and Techniques for Today's Artist

Now how appropriate is it that I received this book in the mail today, an order I placed a week or so ago! He has a nice set-up with photos and instructions on wet in dry watercolor washes (both flat and graded), and wet in wet washes (both flat and graded). Also a nice trick:

Put oxgall in your water container (just a few drops - I probably put too many but what are a few? 3-5 or 7-11? Anything under a dozen is a few, I think!). Yep, put drops of oxgall in your water and it causes the brush to dance lightly over the paper but no white spaces left - it's smoother and flows. That's what oxgall is supposed to do - and I just happened to have some.

So, here we go again!

1. Drew a simple shape and put Pebeo Drawing Gum over that to keep parts white or pale and let that dry completely

2. Wet the back side of the paper and the front and, putting a paper towel over the paper in places to protect it, I stapled the edges all around (the paper towel was to keep any grit and dirt scratching the paper as I pressed the stapler to the paper edges).

3. Let that dry but not bone dry. When I laid the back of my hand to the paper, it was cool which means there was still water in the paper that hadn't dried.

4. Using a Tony Van Hasselt Muslin flat wash brush (forgot I had this!), I put a thin wash of Hansa Yellow Medium (a warm yellow) from top to bottom and then tilted the board to let it all wash to the bottom. I cleaned off the edges and around the miskited area where it pooled, too.

That will dry lighter and then, when it's bone dry, I'll put on the red glaze/wash.

Thanks to everyone for their comments on how to do this better/easier :)


Ann Buckner said...

Wonderful to know this Rhonda and the glaze looks perfect. Happily I have ox gall too and will give it a try.

debwardart said...

Rhonda, you do come up with things to try! Cannot think I've ever done a wash like that, tried to think when it would really come in handy (even though it's usually the first thing you read about in the beginner books!)and can't (unless I suddenly turn into Catherine Anderson - 50+ washes I've been told??) Anyway, think I'll give it a try, too and let you know my results (maybe!!!)

Sandy Maudlin said...

Glad you tried the ox gall. It's really great for adding to the water when doing really dark backgrounds, too.

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

You do use some intriguing techniques. Good luck with how this one works out. Never thought of stapling down watercolour paper!!

RHCarpenter said...

The oxgall, the wash brush, and pre-wetting the paper seem to do the trick!