Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 2 February 2014





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The combination of wet and dry techniques

It is difficult to use just the technique of painting on a dry background in any given painting. Usually, both are used simultaneously to achieve the desired effect of each, capturing the fusion of tones on the one hand and the precision of a dry brush stroke on the other.

The only problem is that these two techniques demand completely different drying times between applications. If the base is wet, the newly applied paint will spread and merge. If the base is solid, the brushstrokes will appear definite and precise.

The wet background allows effects of atmosphere, vague shades merging areas, gradations and the merging and blending of colour. The extent to which an added colour will spread depends upon the degree of wetness of the background. Controlling this enables the painter to work with great precision in the area where the colour is being applied.

The wetness is controlled with absorbent paper, with a sponge a dry brush or by the natural evaporation of the water. The base is completely wetted with a sponge or brush after the precaution has been taken of attaching the paper with some gum tape to avoid swelling and wrinkling. With the paper upright and quite wet, paint a horizontal brushstroke along the upper border.

It is important to insist on learning how to control a wash to understand the basic watercolour techniques. At first wait for the paper to dry a little. If you paint while the paper is still soaking wet, the colour will run all over and blend completely. When the background is still wet, but not soaked a darker colour can be added.

With a drier base, the form of the brushstroke can be controlled much better, although the paint still runs and blends into the background. The first picture shows the background colour left to dry almost completely. With some burnt sienna begin to paint in the dark parts of the clouds and outline their form.

In the lower area the artist has made use of the dry brush technique to paint the reflections on the water. The picture below shows the background being completely dry since we don't want the tones to mix. With a very dark burnt amber paint this perfectly defined area of back lighting could be seen.

Since the background is completely dry the tones do not run and blend. The paper used is Kent with a slight grain and brush No. 3,6 and 8 could be used.

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