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Painted by Jim with 50 different glazes




You must understand and can control the unique physical characteristics of watercolor to paint with fresh transparent glazes in watercolor.

Here are my thoughts about the subject.  Pull up a chair and lets go.

First identify what colors on your palette are "transparent".

Draw a black horizontal line about an inch in thickness  across a small section of your watercolor paper.  Black marker will be fine.

Remember relative opacity or transparency of colors tends to vary from brand to brand.

Now paint a vertical strip of the color you want to examine across the line with a flat brush about 4 inches long.  Continue with the rest of the colors.  Let them dry.

Now look where the vertical and horizontal met.  If you can quite easily see the Black Mark , you have transparent color.  If you see a faint hint of color, semi-transparent color.  Don't see the Black Strip - Opaque color.


Glazing essentially mixes color in the viewer eye rather than on the palette.

For example looking down through a layer of say, New Gamboge over a wash of Thalo Blue, the viewer will see Green, just as if you had mixed the two together, but, giving the viewer a brighter more luminous color than if you had stirred (mixed) them together.

Glazing, like many watercolor painting techniques involves a degree of excitment and unpredictability. So be prepared fro any eventuality.

Maybe you have thought that layer after layer of watercolor wash will produce a dull opaque look.



If you don't understand the nature of colors, that is their relative opacity and transparency.

Now take a small wet brush and gently apply a wash of water over the vertical color (remember, the one that you painted over the Black mark), let it soak in for a few moments, now brush the wet strip a couple of time and blot.

Guess what, you know what is transparent and also does it stain the paper.

Now if you have painted a transparent stainer and it's completely bone dry you can expect it to avoid removal.

On the other hand, if you paint with an opaque color derived from mineral compounds that float on the papers surface when you glaze over it with another color, it could well lift (and mix) leaving a muddy look.

Paper to use: The surface should be "cold press": ("NOT" in U.K.).  Hot Press surface does not work well with glazing techniques.

I like to use a very heavy weight paper - 300lbs.C.P. Stretching becomes superfluous since the papers heavy weight eliminates most ripples.

Another thing to keep in mind to pre-soak or stretch paper, removes some of the surface sizing.  When the paper is heavily pre-soaked -- avoid this, and the colors will have great intensity.

PAPER:  Must be completely dry before you attempt to apply a glazing color, if it is not it will mix with the next layer losing transparency of the colors and defeating the whol glazing process.

Just apply a little patience between layers.

SIDEBAR:  Paintings that I have applied more then fifty layers, (yes + 50) sell very fast for me.  They do look spectacular.  But it's very labor intensive.



Yourgoal is to make the "finished" Watercolor Watercolour Painting a thing of beauty.

It take's two humans to paint any watercolor Watercolour Painting, one who handles the Watercolor (Watercolour) brush and the other to tell them when to STOP. ( For our  U.K  friends ) the "U"

Towards the end of any painting we tend to keep adding this and that, little bit more detail here and there.  Then it becomes a painting with a lot of details and clutter.  Don't tell me you don't do it, I know you too well.

Then in the end result, has it improved, nine times out of ten just a painting with more clutter.

My sincere advice, stop just before you think it's finished.  Place the "unfinished" painting in a spot around the house, looking at it for a few days.  Only then will you see if it needs any more details.

What it might have needed in the first place was a "glaze" over all or just part of the Watercolor (Watercolour) Painting.

As a painter who is concerned with light and how it effects things, I am naturally interested in the shaded sides and cast shadows.

Light reveals the surface and texture, while shade and shadows conceal and connect any image.

To capture these extremes of value (value far more important than color).

Keep this thought for ever, VALUE #1, COLOR #2.

I have learned to build up my Watercolor, Watercolour Paintings with glazes, which allows me to control value more effectively.

So value is number one, color some other number, glazes can control the value.

To get full impact of that statement click on Paul Jackson site at http://www.pauljackson.com  Find his painting "Farewell" and all the rest.  I will wait right here for you.

Oh!  you are back,  he is a master of spectacular light effects isn't he.

Try subjects that are lit from the side or almost silhouetted, because this type of lighting often transform the mundane into the dramatic.  Illustrated by Paul so well.

If you use masking fluid, which will leave a stark white paper showing hard edges, apply a glaze to tone down these areas.

This excellent technique of applying washes of color, and glazing, works great.

A glaze is also useful for unifying several disparate parts, for adjusting and balancing the color (colour) of an area, for creating a shadow shape that guides the viewer's eye and for softening the masking fluids hard lines.

But most important, a glaze allows you to control the values within your image and ultimately the contrast of light against shade as determined by our friend Value, that is what your painting should be all about.

Now you might be thinking a glaze is a series of brush strokes, which it it.

Also think of it this way, wet the area to be glazed first, apply the pigment and tilt the board to encourage it to creep and merge over a portion of the wetted area.  Be sure to take a tissue and gently dab the edge of the wet edge, if you don't you might leave a tide mark.

You might also apply several different colors colours to a pre-wet area and allow them to blend or merge into a gently undulating glaze, which is far more interesting then a mixed up color.

Fig. 1 shows a square painted with Winsor & NewtonsPermanent Rose. Then let dry.  Glazed right side withWinsor & Newtons French Ultramarine Blue.


Fig.2 French Ultramarine Blue then same mix, Permanent Rose.  Same pools of color look at the
difference. hard to believe .


Fig. 3 - Both colors mixed on palette (not always the thing to do).


Fig.4 - Paper wet and both colors allowed to merge together.


Figs. 1,2,3,4-box, General overall view of squares.  2and 4 my choice


The circles are interesting, to make a red (flower etc.) stronger and brighter I always run a dark red close by.  Did it succeed?


The large square has about sixteen dried glazes of Permanent Rose, New Gamboge and Sap Green. This is on a 15"x 22" half sheet . Skill level Hard 


The next has some details added, and more glazes.   In the next few days I will add others.

TIP : If you are going to need texture say far and near objects, try this:-

Dry brush produces texture.     Glaze over a  dry  area, let it now dry .     Dry brush area with texture now glaze over the textured area it will make the dry brushing very soft  pushing the area into the background (far)

Now dry brush over a dry glazed area, the edges remain harder moving the area forward (near).

That "Tip" alone was worth the price you paid for reading this site.  Please tell your friends, we are trying so hard to please you.

Experiment with all these ideas, don't made it a series of "have to do's", learning and discovering should be time well spent and make the process a lot of fun.

Most "would be Artists" and Artist's do not like to sit down and do anything scientific.

It is impossible for me to give you specific color instructions (although books do it all the time) use this color, or this is what the Author recommends. Not knowing the manufacturers paint that you are using

Each manufacturer makes paints differently from its competitor.

So your palette will not be the same as mine .  A "general rule" these will be transparent non stainers.

Cobalt Blue, Viridian, Aurolin, Permanent Rose.

The following are normaly semi-transparent non- stainers:-

Prussian Blue, Sap Green, New Gamboge, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Vermillion Hue, Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet, Permanent Magenta.

As always remind yourself, My best Watercolor, Watercolour Painting is the one I am starting now.




Q  -  What is transparency.

A  -   Watercolors through which you can see the white of the paper or an under laying color.

Aureolin                Perm. Rose                    Rose Madder

Cobalt Blue           Viridian                           Hookers Green

Prussian Blue        Antwerp Blue                 Sap Green

New Gamboge      Raw Sienna                    Quin.Gold

Burnt Sienna         Quin. Burnt Orange.

Vermilion                Quin. Burnt Sienna

Perm. Magenta     Perm. Mauve

There are others.


 whole-pic-1.jpg         bonus-picture-1_025.jpg       bonus-picture-1_023.jpg


These colors are all very transparent.  Shown are Viridian, Aureolin, Cobalt Blue and Rose Madder Genuine.

Each color was a single stroke.  Each was bone dry before the next color was placed over it.

Look carefully at all the different colors.   NOW DO YOUR OWN.

All colors are non-stainers.  Note - the white line showing the paint removed with wet brush.

That does not mean all transparent colors are non-stainers.


Q  -  I am just starting out painting and dread spending a fortune on paper.  What should I buy?

A  -  Just for practice a pad 140lbs. cold press, watercolor pad.

Strathmore 300 or 400 series.  These do not make a great final painting - they are just practice sheets.  You will notice a big difference between pads and a good quality paper.

Q  -  What does the weight of the paper mean and sizes.

A  -  Quarter sheet            11" x 15"                28 - 38 centimeters.

        Half sheet                    15" x 22"                38 - 56       "

        Full sheet                     22" x 30"                 55 - 76       "

        Elephant (UK)             20" x 27"                 51 - 69        "

         Emperor (US)            40" x 60"                 102 - 152     "

         Also comes in rolls 4' wide x 30' long.

WEIGHTS            POUNDS/REAM                GRAMS/2 METER

Light                    90 lbs                                   185 GSM

Medium                140 lbs                                300 GSM

Heavy                   300 lbs                                640 GSM

                             400 lbs                                  850 GSM

Q  -  My paper always forms ripples and buckles.

A  -  But heavy paper - 300lbs  -  640 GSM,  will not buckle as much as 140 Lb. -  90lbs. will always be a problem.

Another possibility would be to stretch 140 lb. paper (see Stretching paper Below )

Heavy papers are wonderful if you use lots of water when you paint will not buckle although there is always a first time

More water, more buckle, simple as that.  But, 300lb has never buckled on me.

If buckle on 140 lb., occurs, let it dry.  When dry, press it overnight, tissue paper over it, then some heavy weights (books maybe).



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