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Using Masking Fluid (Liquid Frisket)

Author: George Simmons

Masking Fluid or Liquid frisket as some call it, is used in watercolor to retain white areas on your paper. It is used mostly in situations where you want to paint a dark area without having to paint around a particular spot you want to keep white.

Masking Fluid comes in several colors. White, cream, gray and orange are some of the colors used by different manufacturers. The particular color doesn't matter but you want to see the areas that you have masked off. Masking Fluid has the consistency and feel of rubber cement when applied and can be peeled off your paper once the paper is DRY. DO NOT try to take masking off damp paper. A rubber cement pick-up or soft eraser will lift masking off your paper. You can even rub it with your CLEAN fingertips to remove it from the paper. Remove all masking fluid from your paper as soon as possible. Don't leave it on the paper for an extended period.

APPLYING MASKING FLUIDS: You paint masking fluid on with a brush just like paint. Most artists use masking on small areas within a painting so a small brush is needed.

IMPORTANT NOTE: NEVER, EVER use one of your good painting brushes to apply masking fluid!!! It will ruin them! ONLY use a worn out brush or better still, buy some cheap art/craft brushes and use them for applying mask. It is very difficult to get out of your brush so never use good brushes. Shake your bottle of masking good before using. Get a small container and add a drop of dishsoap and some water. Dip your brush in the soapy mixture then blot dry, THEN dip the brush into your masking fluid and apply to your painting. When finished appling fluid, clean your masking brush with soap and water right after use or it will harden to a glue-like state! Rinse with clean water and dry after the soap bath. Masking fluid really makes a mess of a brush and brush life is short so please use cheap throw away brushes.

SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: The painted edges surrounding where you remove masking fluid tends to be "hard" (sharp, well defined)after removing the fluid. Make sure this is the kind of edge you want in your painting.

WORD OF ADVICE: Don't over use masking fluid. It may seem like a godsend and it does help create certain effects in watercolor but just go slow with it! MY RULE: If you can paint around an area to retain white paper, then DO IT! Use masking only where absolutely necessary. It will make for a better painting. Good Luck!

Do you have a watercolor question you would like me to answer? Just email me and I'll be happy to reply.

After many years exclusively as an oil painter, Rhode Island artist George Simmons, switched to watercolor about 10 years ago and has never looked back. His bold, eye catching Watercolors, full of color and values generally give a close up view of the world around him, be it through his florals, still lifes or landscapes.
His way of looking at things was manifested in a 1981 three month cross country bicycle trip from R.I. to California that gave him the opportunity to look at the most interesting part of America....its people and small towns. A lover of the environment and local architecture, he can be found outside with his french easel searching for his next painting to take back to the studio. His award winning watercolors can be found in a growing number of public and private collections. He is an artist member of the Rhode Island Watercolor Society.

George is a contributing editor to WetCanvas! and can be reached via email at: [email protected]. Be sure to visit George's own site for more exciting lessons and demos!