One two three lift

Want to remove or erase paint? You can! At least you can make an area lighter. You can lift (remove) paint to correct excess paint or create a highlight.

How much paint you can lift depends on the paper and pigment. Some papers lift more easily than others. Some paper brands have a softer finish and lift very easily. Some brands absorb the pigment and are more difficult to lift; however, these papers can be layered with paint without disturbing what lies underneath. Your paper dealer can advise you on which brands to purchase for your needs. Earth-colored pigments are pretty forgiving and lift easily; staining pigments are a bit less forgiving and may never lift completely. (See Chapter 2 for more on pigments.)

You can lift paint wet or dry:

1 Lifting wet paint: If paint is damp on the watercolor paper, use a clean, damp brush and touch the area that you want to remove paint from. Follow the shape you need lightened with the damp brush: Draw a line, touch a dot, or use the side of the brush for a large area.

After you lift out the paint, blot the area with a paper towel. If you want it lighter still, wait until the area is dry and then follow the instructions in the next bullet point.

1 Lifting dry paint: Use a round brush with clear water to dampen the area you want to lift and blot the area with a towel. Turn the towel to a clean spot and rub the area vigorously and quickly using a bit of pressure. This usually is enough to lift what you want, but if you want more lifting, use a damp brush with stiff bristles and rub the area. Blot with a towel. Continue until the paper peels up in little crumbs. At this point, stop and let the area dry.

Watercolor dries 30 percent lighter than it looks when wet. So wait to see if the area you want lifted is light enough when it's dry before trying to lift more paint.

Layering on top

You can, and often will want to, paint on top of other paint. You usually wait until the underlayer is dry before adding another layer of paint.

What you put on top influences what is underneath, and layering is one way to mix colors. Keep the paint transparent so you can see through it and into the layers. This makes deep, interesting paintings.

Create several rainbows of color with this layering exercise.

1. Get a quarter sheet of watercolor paper.

This can be a square piece of paper.

2. Activate all your paints.

You want to become familiar with the entire palette of colors, so use them all.

3. Paint a stripe of each color on your palette from the top of the paper to the bottom, leaving a small stripe of white between each color so they don't mingle (see Figure 3-8a).

A K-inch flat brush is just the right width for each stripe. Keep the colors strong by not diluting them with too much water. You could make another chart with pale colors and see what happens with those, too.

Figure 3-8:

Exploring your palette by making a layer chart.

Figure 3-8:

Exploring your palette by making a layer chart.

4. Let the stripes dry completely.

Use a blow-dryer, or be patient and make a cup of tea.

5. Paint a stripe of each color horizontally, moving left to right across the paper (or right to left, your preference). See Figure 3-8b.

This puts each color underneath and over the top of all the others.

6. Let the paint dry and analyze the results.

7. Label the paint names for a handy reference chart.

This simple chart gives you a wealth of knowledge about colors and color combinations. Each intersection displays a new color. Look at the differences b a when a color is on top of rather than underneath another color. Some colors are transparent (see-through); others are opaque (solid), no matter how much water you dilute them with.

For bonus points, try lifting a small area out of each stripe of color (the previous section tells you how). This shows you which colors are easy to remove and which are staining. The staining colors never lift back to white.

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