A few weeks ago, I shared my experiences of using the wet on wet method for watercolour washes. Today, I’m going to show you the results of some really cool wet on wet techniques using a range of household items which you should already have readily available to you. Let the fun begin…
Applying cling film
This technique is so easy to do but creates some really amazing effects. Simply wet your paper with water and then apply either a single paint colour or blend several together. Next, apply your cling film over the top, allowing it to crinkle in various places. Place a weight over the film e.g. a heavy book and leave it to dry. Remove the cling film and admire the weird and wonderful results (left hand image).
You can also work a different way where you place the cling film flat onto your table, add some clean water and then apply pools of paint directly to the plastic wrap (you could try maybe two or three different colours. After doing this, place your watercolour paper directly on top of the cling film. Flip it over and then either leave the plastic wrinkled where it is or move it around slightly to disperse the colour. When you’re happy with your creation, carefully remove the cling film and leave your paper to dry (right hand image).
For this one, you need to search for some salt in your kitchen store cupboard or pantry – any kind will do but I used some coarse sea salt which we had in our mill. I attempting this technique quite a few times and I got different results, some more interesting and effect than others. Begin by wetting a small piece of paper with clean water. Now paint the area with one, two or three colours. Ensure that the area is damp and shiny but not too wet. Dry off any excess with small amounts of kitchen towel if you have any puddles. Add a small amount of salt either by pinching and sprinkling it or using a mill like I did. Let the paint dry and leave the salt to work its magic. Brush off the salt with your hand or use a small ruler to gentle scrape it away.
Applying rubbing alcohol
This was one of my favourite techniques. Rubbing alcohol AKA surgical spirit is usually part of our first aid kit (I use mine to clean my silver earrings too!). But did you know, you can use it to create some interesting effects on wet watercolour paint? Place a small amount of rubbing alcohol into a dish and put aside for later. Wet the area of your paper you want to work on and then add some paint. Now, dip your finger or a cotton bud (I used a cotton bud for the first example) into the surgical spirit. Tap your finger or the cotton bud onto the painted area. Repeat as many times as you like. You can also use cotton wool balls for larger blobs (as shown in the second piece).
Lifting paint with paper towel
This is also a good technique to use if you make a mistake in your work or you have excess pooled paint or water on you paper. Mask off the edges of your paper for a clean line around the edge. Wet the whole surface until it is shiny and then apply a wash of colour. Use a scrunched up piece of kitchen towel to blot away the colour. As you can see, I made little cloud shapes in my mid blue sky wash. Doesn’t it look great?
You can feather the paint in a range of different ways. The first example (on the top and bottom paper) involves wetting a section of the paper and then applying a single stroke of slightly diluted paint in a downwards motion. This causes the colour to spread to create a feathery effect. For the second examples (number two and three on the top paper and in the middle of the second paper, I applied a strip of pinky red and then applied another colour in the same shape, touching the very right hand edge of the first colour. This causes the first colour to feather into the second and vice versa. The wetter and more diluted your paints the more it feathers. For the final example on the second piece of paper, I applied yellow paint and then rain a strip of pinky red down the centre.
I thought these techniques would be good for using to create variegated tree bark and petals. Do you agree?
Blooms and drop colour
Another really simple but effective technique is to drop colour onto a pre-wetted piece of paper. You can either apply lots of drops using a large brush to blend the colours or you can drop small blobs of paint and watch them bloom. Again, the wetter the paper and more diluted the colour, the more the paint will spread.
As you can see, I had a little bit of a problem with the paint leaking under the masking tape on the second one. I’m not sure if I applied too much water or if the cheap three rolls of tape for £1 didn’t help the situation!
I covered this technique in my wet on dry post but as you can see, the splatters look different when applied to wet paper. On this example, below, the paper was wetter in the centre and so the splatters there spread further than those at the very edge of the area.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at my watercolour experiments. I had great fun exploring the different techniques and found it really calming and relaxing. If you’re looking for something creative to do during lockdown I would totally recommend giving it a go and I think it would be something great to do with kids too.