Watering blooms

When you get more water than pigment, the water dries at uneven rates and creates blooms, blossoms, cauliflowers, backwashes, or happy accidents, an example of which is shown in Figure 3-6. Sometimes these look really cool and create a fun, juicy watercolor look, especially in a sky. Enjoy and have fun creating them. But trust me on this: If you want a smooth, flat wash and you get a bloom in the middle, it's no "happy" accident. So figure out how to control blooms right now so you get them only when you want them.

Figure 3-6:

Blossoms created by uneven wetness.

Figure 3-6:

Blossoms created by uneven wetness.

You need to know how to control or create blooms (or whatever you choose to call them), and the first step toward that is knowing how they form:

1. Get a 4-x-6-inch piece of watercolor paper.

2. Activate your choice of pigment color.

Add water to make a puddle of color in the mixing area of the palette.

3. Using a large flat brush, cover the entire surface of the paper with paint quickly so it's all the same dampness.

If the paper absorbs the water and dries, reapply the paint until it's damp everywhere.

4. Wait until the paint shine is just about to disappear. Drip a brush of clean water on the painted surface.

Because the water is introduced into the damp paint, you get uneven wetness, and you should get a bloom, probably immediately. Resist the temptation to fiddle with it.

If you don't see a bloom, you probably dripped the water too soon or too late. Let the whole thing dry and try Steps 3 and 4 again.

5. Let the paint dry.

Fun with a

Any hair dryer is a friend to the impatient water-colorist. It speeds up your waiting time until the next layer is dry. When you use a blow-dryer, dry from the front and back of the paper. Hold the dryer about a foot away and move it around for gentle, even drying. Any temperature seems to work. I've even used the high temperature from a distance and for short amounts of drying time.


You can even experiment with pushing paint with air. If the paint is liquid enough, you can push it into running shapes. Remember blowing around paint with a straw in school to make an oriental art copy? Another experimental technique is to put the dryer close to the puddle of paint and force dry it so the paint makes concentric circles as it dries.

Try the exercise again with other colors to see what blooms look like in a rainbow of shades. You can also try dripping wet color into nearly dry color to see the results.

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