Sunday, October 5, 2014


My students are interested in learning how to pour watercolors to complete a painting, so I had to go back and do one (it had been a loooonnngggg time since I'd poured a painting).  This is a fun way to get a watercolor painting without even using a brush!  I know most of you have done this at least once in your artistic life, but here are the steps (in case you want a refresher or are new to the idea of pouring your watercolors on your paper).

First choose a good photo that has a strong value pattern = very strong darks and lights.  I used this very old template from a photo of a cherub statue holding a plate of doves (gosh, I hope that cherub is not one of Dr. Who's angels who will eat the doves as soon as we close our eyes!!).

I traced the photo onto a fourth sheet (11 x 15 inches) Arches 140 lb. paper.  Then I masked out all the areas I want to leave white in the final painting, using Pebeo Drawing Gum (it's a grey color so I can easily see where I've masked).

While the masking fluid was drying, I chose the colors I wanted to use on this painting = the primaries of yellow, red and blue.  I chose Hansa Yellow Light, Quinacridone Red and Cobalt Blue for my beginning colors.

Putting about 1 inch of pigment from the tube into the little glass jars, I then added the water (just enough to mix the pigments into a watery mix).  You want to use a brush to mix the pigment and water so you don't have globs of paint coming out onto your painting when you pour your colors, so mix well and thin the pigments down to a nice, watery consistency.

By the time you do this, your masking fluid should be dry.  (Don't pour any color until the masking fluid is dry.)

I've been told to always start with the yellows in your palette because putting a color over yellow works well but putting a yellow over another color does not allow the yellow to glow as much.  So, I began with pouring on the yellow.

Since I am using a small sheet of watercolor paper here (I would normally paint on at least a half sheet), I used a plastic pipette to drop the color onto the paper at this point.  You can get eye droppers or plastic pipettes at any hobby store or even drugstore, I imagine.  

lightly spritz water onto the paper so you are not pouring onto a dry surface.  This helps the color move.)

Direct the yellow where you want a nice yellow glow in the painting.  While this is still wet, pour on your red or blue (doesn't matter which goes next), and let it bleed into some of the other color already on the paper.  Pour all three colors this way, allowing the color to run off the sides of the painting (into a towel or into a large tub you have on your table).  When you get all three colors the way you want them, stop and let that dry completely.  

Come back later to see the next steps!


Debbie Nolan said...

Oh Rhonda - I will be back to see the next steps. How fun. Looking forward to your demo. Have a lovely day.

Anita's art said...

Ok can't wait to see the next step. Pouring is fun.

laura said...

Looks good already! Thanks for the steps--I want to try one.

RH Carpenter said...

A few drizzly days will get me in the mood for more post coming today! Thanks, Debbie, Anita and Laura :) said...

Very interesting and informative. I've never done a poured painting.

RH Carpenter said...

Thanks, Carol. Give it a try - it's not that messy!!