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Watercolors

1.  What watercolors should I use on my palette and what are my basic brushes and supplies?
Grumbacher Academy watercolors are a mid-grade of paints and they come in affordable tubes. The colors used in your palette should be: Chinese white, cadmium yellow light, cadmium orange, cadmium red light, sap green, burnt sienna, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, mauve, alizarin crimson, and thalo yellow green.
The brushes you use with watercolors are sable. You will also use a hake brush with watercolors. Your basic brushes are: 2 inch hake brush,  1 inch sable and one/half inch sable, #4 round sable brush, #4 flat sable brush, and #4 script liner brush.
Other basic supplies: plastic deep-well palette saver, mister bottle, natural sponge, paper towels, HB hard lead pencil, frisket or Miskit (for masking), water container, and kneaded eraser.
Watercolor paper suggestions include: #112 cold press rough watercolor board (Crescent brand), 300lb. Arches watercolor paper or 140lb. watercolor block.

2.  Can I apply your fine art lessons to watercolors as far as brush strokes, color mixing, and blending?
Absolutely, all technical applications are interchangeable with all mediums.

3.  I am trying to mix flesh tones, but I can not find thalo yellow green in Gouache watercolors. What can I substitute for thalo yellow green?
Gouache is a great medium to work with. The combination of colors you could use would be a mixture of cadmium yellow light with a touch of ultramarine blue to create a similar color to thalo yellow green. Mix with thalo crimson, or other reds in the crimson family, and add white (and any other color you need) to adjust the skin tone.

4.  How do I create a misty or foggy effect when using watercolors? I cannot seem to get soft edges without turning the paint to mud or the whole painting looking flat and dull. I want more of a luminescent effect.
In watercolor, you must begin with a very light wash and gradually build the darker colors on top of one another. To achieve the value and softness you want it may take 10 to 12 washes. Make sure not to cover the area where the mist or fog is to be placed, or it will get muddy. You want to blend darker layers around your mist and fog. This is difficult to explain without seeing a demonstration.

5.  How can I keep my paper flat after I have finished a watercolor painting?
Before you begin a watercolor painting, you must pre-stretch your watercolor paper. You completely soak your watercolor paper and lay it flat using paper tape to hold down the edges. Once it has completely dried you can begin your painting. Follow the manufacturer's directions before you begin painting on your watercolor paper.

6.  Can I use acrylic paint on watercolor paper?
Yes, you can use acrylic paint on any weight watercolor paper. You can also use acrylics on other types of paper such as rice paper, watercolor board, illustration board, etc. 300lb. Arches watercolor paper is preferred.

7.  What type of watercolor paper should I use?
Buy 112 rough watercolor board by Strathmore or full sheets of 300lb. watercolor paper.

8.  Can I use gesso with watercolor as a base for doing a painting?
You can use gesso with watercolor, but you can no longer call it a true watercolor. It will become opaque and permanent, unlike watercolor, which is transparent and temporary. By adding gesso, you are creating a gouache-like medium, which is a French opaque watercolor and is widely used.

9.   I am using 140lb. watercolor paper and I want to create a morning mist.  Can I achieve this with watercolors?
Achieving mist as an atmospheric condition is accomplished by building one layer on top of another until you get your desired effect. With watercolors, you must use a wet-on-wet technique.

10.   Are there any special techniques for watercolor pencils?
Use a light touch (feather-like). Watercolor pencils have a tendency to hold a hard edge if you are not careful.  Use a light touch and create layers of color.

11.   I paint with watercolors. How can I get water to look wet?
Wet the area where the water is to located. Allow the moisture to evaporate just enough so there are no puddles. Use the reflected color, quickly applying this color to the reflected area of water. Let it bleed until it becomes blurred. If it is too wet, it will bleed too much; if it is too dry, it will not bleed enough to create softness. You will need to experiment a time or two before applying the technique to your painting. After the water dries completely, take a sharp exact knife and use the point to scratch some horizontal highlights across the surface of your water. This is a very professional and effective technique.

12.  Can I do watercolors on a stretched canvas?
Fredrix makes a canvas especially designed for watercolors (Fredrix Archival Watercolor Canvas).  I am not familiar with the product, but I understand many watercolor artists use and like the product.  To do watercolors on a traditional canvas is only possible if you use very thin washes of acrylics. The effect is the same and it is permanent. Regular watercolors will not adhere to traditional canvas surfaces. The reason watercolor paper works best is because the watercolor absorbs into the paper and creates a dye-like characteristic. On canvas, the watercolor only sits on the surface.

13.  How can I get a glow in my paintings' windows like you do with acrylics?
The key to creating the glow with watercolors is to be sure the watercolor paper in the area is clean and white. You will use pure, clean color of yellow and/or orange in thin layers until you build up the brightness you desire.

14.  Do I need to apply an undercoat first before painting faces in watercolor. Which color should I apply when painting white people?
The only undercoat you would want to use for a white person is a very thin wash of yellow ochre mixed with a touch of thalo yellow green. Remember, this is only a tint - the color would be barely visible on the paper. The purpose of tinting the paper is so, when you leave the paper showing through, your highlights will not be stark white. This tint will create a nice, warm natural-highlight tone.

15.  How do I paint a wool effect with watercolor? I am painting a bird which has its feet more woolly than feathery.
It is best to take a filbert-shaped bristle brush and use a straight-on, dabbing stroke to create the wool effect. Use light, delicate motions with the tip of the brush going in different directions.

16.  How do I get a proper mist, fog or hazy effect with watercolors? I tried glazing with Chinese white on the dry part but it does not give me a nice result.
For creating a haze or mist in watercolor you cannot use a glaze like you just indicated. That only works if you are working with opaque mediums. In watercolor, you work with very thin colored washes. Layer one wash on top of another until the object begins to appear out of the white paper. You are actually building in the haze or mist as you go. Just be careful and use very thin layers.

17.  About warm and cool colors, I know the difference on the color wheel, but how about cobalt blue, Prussian blue, phtalo indigo, cerulean blue and ultramarine blue? What is the order of warmest, let alone the green the yellow and so on? In order to use, for instance, lemon yellow for a cooler effect than gamboge and so on.
As a general rule, cool colors cause objects to recede and warm colors cause objects to come forward. If you take a color like Prussian blue, which has a green tone, it would be considered a cool color. True, greens and yellows are traditionally cool; but if you add a touch of orange, red, or purple to any of these colors, they then border on the warm side. The truth is, you just have to experiment.

18.  Can I use Miskit (liquid frisket) on watercolor paper or canvas board? My jar has been around for awhile, will it still be useful?
You can use Miskit on canvas board. Use a rubber-type eraser to remove the Miskit from the board. If the jar of Miskit has hardened or separated, it will be useless.

19.  I am painting a watercolor of my grandfather. I have a violet background, and to paint the hair, I used blue and grayed it with orange. It turned green. I took the colors off with water and mixed a gray with black and white. Again, it turned green.
The best color for the hair would be Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna and white. You can create a multitude of grays with this mixture.  Do not know what caused the hair to turn green because you can only get green with shades of yellows and blues, which of course, the blue and orange fit this.

20.  I just purchased DaVinci brand permanent watercolor tubes. I do not understand the difference between them and artists watercolors. I tried to lift the color, some do and some do not. Hope you can help.
DaVinci watercolors claim to have a higher concentration of pigment than other brands. Richer pigments are harder to lift with certain colors such as blues and greens. Also, the rougher the paper you use the more difficult it is to lift color. You might try a 140 lb. watercolor block or even some illustration board (cold press).

21.  I am painting a house that is all white and wasn't sure how to go about it.
Watercolor artists paint white objects by leaving the paper showing through. There are two ways to achieve this. First, you can mask the area with a substance called Misket. It is similar to rubber cement but made for watercolor artists. You paint the Misket over the area you want to be white. Allow the Misket to dry, then you can paint over it with your watercolor paints. You rub the misket off with your finger or with a kneaded eraser. The second way is to paint around the object carefully and leave the white paper.

22.  How do I keep watercolors from fading?                                                          You need to keep them out of direct sunlight.  Also the quality of the paint determines the lightfastness.  Look for permanant pigment listed on the tubes.


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