Controlling the Water

Remember the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, in which the porridge was too hot, too cold, and just right? Switch the porridge with water, and the same is true for watercolor paper and brushes. It's too wet, too dry, or just right. When you know how to deal with each condition, your watercolor painting will be much easier. That's what I help you do in the next sections.

When you paint, you'll start with a damp brush. Sometimes you'll dampen the paper with water and thereby make the brush damp. Next scoop up some paint in the hairs of the brush. Apply the paint to the paper that is dry or wet, depending on the look you want. When changing the color, first rinse the previous color in water, and then pick up the next color.

A big key to success is even wetness. And sometimes to achieve that, you have to let everything dry and start fresh on the next layer. Especially if you're painting a large area, it's difficult to have the same wetness everywhere. You may get puddles in one area, while another is beginning to dry out. When you see parts of the painting becoming dry, the best plan is to let everything dry and start again in another layer. Say this with me: "When in doubt, dry it out."

Watercolor has a magic time. It's just as the shine is about to leave the paper, when the paper is damp with no puddles or dry spots. This is the perfect time for all the techniques described in Chapter 4 or using a chisel-ended brush to scrape paint away as described in the "Painting with the Brush's Other End" section earlier in this chapter.

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