Q: When using wet-in-wet, is there a rule of thumb to test when the paper is ready for the addition of another colour, while it’s still ‘wet’? I’m thinking particularly of adding clouds to a sky wash.

Laura Hughes

Wet in wet

Steve Williams explains that one of the most important things to be aware of is the quality and weight of the watercolour paper. “For wet in wet, the heavier the paper, the better - 140lb (300gsm) should be the absolute lightest paper to consider until more experience is gained,” he says.

“If you're using a heavier paper, or a watercolour paper block, you can get away without stretching the paper, but if you're using a lighter paper, you'll need to stretch it by soaking the paper in a bath, or large bowl for a minute or so, then tape it down onto a board surface. When the paper is dry and stretched, it is much less likely to cockle, or ripple when wetted again. Wetting the paper can be done either with a Large Flat or something like a No.16 Round. Some professionals use a sponge as they say they can control the water better.

After applying the water to the paper as evenly as possible, allow it to partly dry off so that instead of being wet and shiny it just has a slightly damp sheen to it, and this is the best time to drop in wet colours.” www.saa.co.uk/art/stevewilliamsart

Jem Bowden has a useful rule of thumb to avoid back running or 'cauliflowers'. “The pigment being added should contain less water than the wash it's being added into,” he explains. “You need the water on the paper effectively to 'draw out' the pigment from your brush, rather than the pigment on your brush to effectively pour off it onto less wet paper.

Try preparing your paint and brush as if you are going to do some 'dry brush technique' and as long as the paper is still at least damp (turn it sideways to the light to see) you should get good, soft-edge results; the wetter the paper, the softer the edge.” www.saa.co.uk/art/jeremybowden

Liz Yule suggests that when attempting clouds, you should first concentrate on the negative area around the cloud. “The lightest part of the cloud will be the untouched paper,” she explains. “I begin by dry-brushing blue over dry paper forming the outer shape, dry-brush gives a broken edge which suggests softness.

To create the shadows on the underside I wet the area just above where the shadow needs to go (with clean water ) and wait for it to dry a little. The right time to apply the shadow colour (usually a Cobalt Blue / light red combination) is when the shine disappears from the wet patch, which you can see if you look at the paper from the side.

If the paint is applied then it will seep gently into this dampness leaving a lovely soft edge. This technique can also be used in many other situations, such as shadows on a curved shape. www.lizyule.com

Thank you to our PAs for their advice. Do take a look at their websites to see examples of their work. If you have a question about art, get in touch with us at Head Office (marking your letter ‘Ask the Experts’) or email sarah@saa.co.uk

Q: When using wet-in-wet, is there a rule of thumb to test when the paper is ready for the addition of another colour, while it’s still ‘wet’? I’m thinking particularly of adding clouds to a sky wash.

Laura Hughes

Wet in wet

Steve Williams explains that one of the most important things to be aware of is the quality and weight of the watercolour paper.

“For wet in wet, the heavier the paper, the better - 140lb (300gsm) should be the absolute lightest paper to consider until more experience is gained,” he says. “If you're using a heavier paper, or a watercolour paper block, you can get away without stretching the paper, but if you're using a lighter paper, you'll need to stretch it by soaking the paper in a bath, or large bowl for a minute or so, then tape it down onto a board surface. When the paper is dry and stretched, it is much less likely to cockle, or ripple when wetted again.

Wetting the paper can be done either with a Large Flat or something like a No.16 Round. Some professionals use a sponge as they say they can control the water better. After applying the water to the paper as evenly as possible, allow it to partly dry off so that instead of being wet and shiny it just has a slightly damp sheen to it, and this is the best time to drop in wet colours.” www.saa.co.uk/art/stevewilliamsart



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