When I first started painting, I used the “paint & blot” technique to keep my paintings under control. Second guessing nearly every stroke, I would dab a bit of paint on the paper, then almost immediately blot it off with a wad of paper towel. I think I removed more paint than I ever put on the paper!
A big factor in this was a lack of confidence; if a color went on a little too dark, or a brush stroke was a little larger than necessary, I had no assurance that I’d be able to work with that unplanned aspect. Another factor was that I just didn’t know what that brush stroke was going to do until it hit the paper.
The good news for every new painter is that this problem is easily solved. The more you paint, the easier it becomes to anticipate what is going to happen at the different stages of the painting, with different amounts of paint and water. Experience is a great teacher! One day, I realized that the paper towel that never left my hand was no longer being used nearly as often, and that was an exciting sign of progress, confidence and growth.
As an instructor, I’ve learned a few descriptions of the different aspects of water load that I enjoy sharing with students to help the learning process along. When you are aware of the difference between a juicy brush, a thirsty brush and a neutral brush, you can be more intentional about how you use your brush to maintain balance in your painting and create different effects as you paint.
In my third World Watercolor Month lesson, (for the July 20th prompt of Wet & Dry) I’m getting back to basics, sharing insights into managing the water load on your brush and paper to create different effects. (Confession: I’m not a smooth wash master. I love texture, bleeds and blooms, so while I talk about creating an even wash, you’re not going to see it happen in this video!)
I’d love to hear from you! Are there terms that helped demystify water load for you in your painting journey? Share them in the comments below.
Don’t forget that as a World Watercolor Month Artist Ambassador, I’m sharing more lessons and giveaways at watercolorsummerchallenge.com and donating 10% of sales of Sun, Snow & Flowers, a 3 painting online watercolor class, to the Dreaming Zebra Foundation. Thank you for supporting World Watercolor Month so generously!
Angela Fehr is an internationally known watercolour artist and instructor living in in northern British Columbia, Canada. Teaching over 5,000 students in her online school, Fehr emphasizes fluid and intuitive painting, teaching technique clearly and encouraging students to explore their own unique style as they develop watercolour skills.