View Full Version : Some newbie questions that are maybe dumb....

11-26-2004, 03:36 AM
I'm pretty bad at watercolor (I paint in oils which is MUCH easier IMO; I'm not very good at that either but considering how bad I am at watercolor, I was surprised at the results I got with oils), but I'd like to try anyway, but realized I have some questions I haven't seen answered in any of my reading. I feel like they're stupid no-brainer questions (which might be why I've never found the answers anywhere), but they seem to me like essential things I need to know before I paint...

I'll probably be using pans for the most part (I like plein aire painting), and I was wondering how you get the excess water out of the pans when you're done painting so you can pack up without it running all over? Back when I was in middle school and had a box of cheap Prang paints I'd take a paper towel and dab the water out until I realized I was losing a lot of paint that way as it soaked into the paper towel. Would I just have to wait until the water evaporates?

Second question is about sketching on the paper first, say with pencil--if watercolor is transparent, how do you keep the sketch from showing through? Mine always have, doesn't seem to matter how lightly I try to sketch....(obviously this is not a problem I have with oils since my sketches are done with a very light gray diluted with mineral spirits to the consistency of watercolor and it is easily covered up by subsequent layers of paint).

Third couple questions are about mixing. Mixing with oils is easy because bigger amounts of oil paints are used than watercolor, so I can mix up an amount big enough to see what I'm doing. Watercolors don't use big enough amounts, plus are dark enough that it's hard to see what color you've mixed until you get it wetted down. I'm not entirely sure how to mix watercolors--and with pans, how do you mix? Do you just put your brush in the puddle, transfer to wherever you're mixing at, keep doing that until you have the amount you want, then start adding the other color? That's what I always did but it generally took forever to get enough accumulated plus the paints themselves got muddy because whenever I'd go back and forth, some color would be transferred....

Thanks for the help!

11-26-2004, 04:42 AM
Hi KAT and welcome.

First Question..
I don't like the idea of pans. I only have 3 Scmincke Primaries.

I use this palette..


I have just had a "world' trip for 7 weeks, and this is what i took with me. (filled with M.Graham Paints, which are quiet moist) and I never had a problem at all.

I love this palette..:)

Second Question..
Some folks like the pencil/graphic marks showing thru', they don't bother me too much either if they are light, but............if you use grey watercolour pencil you wont have sketch marks as they will blend in with the paint..

Third Question..
If you are maiking up a wash, mix a goodly supply. Take the pigemnts to the dish and then add the water. Never mix more than 3 colours together and be careful about their transparency. Opaque colours will turn to mud..

I mix my other colours on my painting..

There is a some talk about that here if you do a search either in the Technical Forum or the General Forum.

Have a look in my Signature Line under the Elephants and click on the Watercolour Handbook, and the Technical Forum and have a look..



Colour mixing.....Paper or Palette.. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=185298&highlight=mixing+colour)

Colour Mixing (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=185297&highlight=mixing+colour)

Colour Mixing Chart (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=147888&highlight=mixing+colour)

11-26-2004, 06:22 AM
Hi Kat,

Welcome to the Watercolor Forum. I hope your venture into watercolors will be an enjoyable one for you.

There are no stupid questions! I used to tell my kids when they were in school that whatever questions they had, probably three or four others had the same questions but were afraid to ask! Same thing holds true here.

JJ has already answered your questions and given you some links to follow for further discussions.

I too use tube paints so can't comment on the pan paints. I have to carry my palette back and forth to art classes twice a week and used to hate to have to pack up the palette with wet paint still in the squares because when I got home they would all have run into one another and I would spend time cleaning them up (as well as wasting paint). Now I am much more careful how much water I use in class and only wet the paints I need for whatever I am working on. I can always go back in with more water if needed. This seems to help. When I am packing up to go home, I place a folded paper towel under the lid to catch any runs there might be.

Your paints will stay clean if you rinse your brush out before dipping it back in the paint pan again, especially if you are changing colors. I always have two containers of water, one for rinsing the brush, the other with clean water for dipping into colors and mixing them. For painting outdoors, that would mean taking two bottles of water or two empty containers to pour your water into for painting use.

Remember to start simply, play with your paints and see what they will do, let them mix and merge to create new colors (can't do that with oils, ;) ), mix colors on your palette to get new colors, then mix them on the paper to see what the difference is.

Have fun.


11-26-2004, 07:38 AM
Hi Kat, and welcome to the watercolor forum... as Sylvia said there are no silly questions... if someone doesn't give an answer somebody else will do... questions become silly if the same person keeps asking the same question all the time... here are my answers :

1) when using pans you should your paint puddles in some other place... you will probably use the cover of the box as a mixing palette... ie you will be taking paint into the mixing area and form your paint puddle there... so you will not be having so much water on the pans and your pans will tend to dry quickly... I would use paint directly out of the pan very sparingly... because each time you take paint will have a different consistency... try to take the paint at the surface of the pan into your paint puddle before adding more water to your brush for the next attempt... this way your pans will never become completely wet only their surface will become wet...

2) I never had such a problem... if you draw very faintly the paint will cover the pencil marks easily... sometimes it may be desirable for pencil lines to show up from below... you may use some soluble pencils too, or even watercolor pencils to draw... but a soft pencil such as 4B bill be more than OK

3) Mixing is the heart of watercolors... you will figure out this yourself by reading books looking into threads here at wetcanvas etc... I have not yet a clear clue :rolleyes:... but for the rest of your question I would say always form a puddle in a palette whether you mix paints or not... put enough water into your palette, then add first the lightest color until you achieve the thickness you want and then add the other darker color bit by bit... before you go to the next color always rinse your brush... this way you keep your pans clean...

hope it helps...

11-26-2004, 08:05 AM
Hi Kat... Welcome to the wc forum! I guess, by now, you realize that everyone is here to help and there just aren't any silly questions... I didn't know what *glazing* was for the longest time and was afraid to ask... duh... THAT was silly! :D

I use tube paint... I have a travel pallette that I've made up by squeezing my tube colour into the wells... they dry almost as hard as pans and travel very well... the type of paint I use never dries as hard as other brands, but enough so that it doesn't run all over...

The beauty and wonder of wc is due, in part, to its transparency... what this really means is that subsequent layers of paint (or glazes) allow the underpainted areas to shine through... you can achieve very intense values without losing the transparency of the medium... so... pencil marks do not pose a problem... some people prefer to see the pencil marks, in fact... Charles Reid is one such example...

Get yourself a good book on colour theory... Michael Wilcox is an excellent author... I rarely *mix* colour on my pallette... I prefer to allow it to mix (mingle with underlying wet colour) on my paper... or, I'll glaze one clear colour over another... always, always, always let glazes dry before applying the next layer of paint... anyway, there's less opportunity for making mud...

Make sure you have lots of clean water... I use two containers... and I change them pretty frequently... I use juicey colour, so the water becomes dirty very quickly...

Now... go and have some fun... and post what you paint in the Gallery... there are lots of folks here to help you and offer advice as you go... remember, it's only paper...

11-26-2004, 08:49 AM
I have found it paractical to use a loose mixing tray with deep wells when I paint plein air since it alows me to put it down even if the ground is leaning. I'm using a Stanmore palette tray but I think some ice trays might work to.

11-27-2004, 02:54 PM
Thanks guys! Those were the answers I needed. Dunno why I never thought of sketching in watercolor pencil before.

One more question--I have trouble with blending. Like, right now I'm working on a study of a lotus flower, and the tips of the petals are darker than the rest. I put down a light wash of pink and then added more, darker color to the tips when that had mostly dried, but there's a really noticeable line between the two that I can't manage to get rid of. I'm not sure how to get subtle shading like you all do! How in the world do I blend that line away? I tried going over it in clear water but that just seemed to spread the color further down the petal and made another line...I suppose I probably should've started dark at the tip of the petal and gotten lighter as I went down in the first place, but I'm not sure how to do that either...

11-27-2004, 03:22 PM
Hi Kat,

One way to blend your colors so there isn't an obvious line is to use a second brush lightly moistened with just clear water to go along the place where the two tones meet and soften the line.

Another way is to start where the color is the deepest and use a brush moistened with clean water to draw it away from the point where you placed it down gradually making it lighter and lighter with clear water as you move it out. This is useful on flower petals a lot, or to do a vignette type background.

If you have already painted both the light and the deeper tone and they have dried as distinctive bands, depending upon the color you used, you can use a brush with clear water to moisten the meeting point, then use a Q-tip to rub them to see if they will blend a little more.

I forgot, you should have a dry tissue handy to blot your paints with as you work to blend the lines. Tissues are really handy when you are painting with watercolors.


11-27-2004, 03:33 PM
Aha. Will have to try the Q-tip trick...

11-27-2004, 07:59 PM
Have a look at SandyI's Pink Rose (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=163687&page=2&pp=40) wip..

Read the whole thread great advice hear and a demo on priming/glazing.. :)

Also if you already have the hard line you could soften it with a Proxa brush.. (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=169809)

Good Luck..

11-27-2004, 11:21 PM
Ooh, that was a good link, thanks!