It’s been a minute since I messed around with watercolors, so this week I decided to take a tip from one of our very own Cheap Joe’s Artists Instructional Videos: Linda Baker’s Watercolor Pouring Technique.
Feel free to click through that link to watch her in action!
Essentially, I’ll be doing the same kind of pouring technique, only I wanted to come at it from more of an abstract angle.
Where she uses a bunch of colors at once to bring her works to life, I’ll be using one color at a time in a series of masking layers that don’t cover the entire page.
To start, I used this photo of one of my favorite flowers (coneflowers) from the Online Farmer’s Almanac for reference.
Didn’t sketch too lightly, since I knew I’d be lining it in ink, anyway.
And that was the next step!
In an effort to make them stand out more and add to my not-so-realistic feel, I lined them with my very favorite Brush-Tip PITT Artist Pen.
I love these pens a LOT because they’re the darkest black I can find in an art pen (even darker than Micron!) and they’re waterproof India ink, making them perfect for projects that use a lot of water–like this one!
Next, I made a plan to figure out what I needed to mask and before which layer of watercolor.
As you can see, my first layer will cover everything, and then I’ll gradually mask off other areas as I add more colors.
First things first: let’s mix up some literal water-color!
My first layer was gonna be pretty light in a small area, so I used a smidge of American Journey Permanent Magenta with just a splash of water. With this technique, it’s good to start with less water than you think you’ll need, that way you don’t dilute your color too much and have to compensate by using MORE watercolor.
Now, it’s a good idea to do this on a flat surface that you don’t mind getting messy. You’re literally pouring liquid onto a piece of paper, so it’s gonna go everywhere.
Here, you see I prepared my station with a hand towel I’ve already wiped a ton of paint off on.
Then the fun part…pouring!
I’m impressed with how well I handled the pouring, but it was almost TOO perfect. I needed it to be funkier than this!
So I picked it up and tilted it around a bit.
While I waited for it to dry, I picked up a Cheap Joe’s Masking Fluid Kit from the retail store conveniently located 20 feet from me.
This kit is awesome because it comes with everything you need: masking fluid, an Uggly Brush (so you don’t ruin a good one!), and a masking fluid pickup tool. PLUS it comes with a little pamphlet on tips for masking, which also has quotes of affirmation on the back
While still waiting to make super sure that my first layer was dry, I went ahead and mixed up my second layer: a combination of Permanent Magenta and Cerulean Blue Hue.
It was kind of tricky to get colors that were on the same side of the color wheel, but not too close to each other.
But I figured at least my first layer is pretty light–for this one, I really laid on the pigment!
Once the first layer was totally dry, I masked the centers of the flowers.
That dried pretty quickly, so then I poured my second layer (the petals).
It didn’t quite get where I needed it to, so I used the brush I mixed the color with to work it around my paper a little.
There we go!
If you look closely, you can see the little Cerulean Blue Hue granules! That’ll give my petals a nice touch!
Once dry, it looked like this! I liked that there were splotches of the first layer still visible.
Next, I masked the petals because my third layer would be the stems.
I was worried that the green would mix with the red tone of the Permanent Magenta and give me a gross brown, but I picked a cool/blue-shade green (Joe’s Green) and it worked out!
When the green dried, I masked the stems. Even though there wasn’t a ton of pure green on the stems, I thought it was still pretty effective.
This technique is very unpredictable and hard to control, so you’ve gotta have a certain amount of give or you’ll just get frustrated.
Go with the flow!
Now my last layer was blue, for the background. I started by squeezing out some Egyptian Blue Hue because it’s got kind of a purple hint to it that I thought would match the magenta in the flowers.
But once I mixed it up, I remembered how muted the color can be. So I threw in some Ultramarine Blue to liven it up.
Since this was my last layer that I planned on getting all over the page, I took even more precautions to protect my work space from complete chaos–an issue of our local paper, The Mountain Times, to catch the excess that my towel would not.
Time to pour!
Now I really went nuts with this layer. I poured blue everywhere, worked it around with my brush, AND threw in some sea salt and dry rice to add some texture.
After rubbing all the salt and rice off, I was left with this!
Not terribly inspiring, but then came the best part…
Pulling up the masking fluid!
And there you have it! My flowers shine wonderfully through the dark background, and the rice really did a number with collecting all the pigment from my pours!
And here it is framed. Everything always looks better when it’s framed
Have you guys tried the pouring method?
Comment below and let me know how it works for you or if you have any tips for me!