Home | About the Artist | Lessons | Portfolio | Challenge Program | Contact |

www.jims-watercolor-gallery.com

Watercolor painting the easy way.

EmailFacebookPinterestYouTubeTwitterReturn to Homepage

Watercolor Problems and Solutions

 

COMMON WATERCOLOR PROBLEMS

MUST KNOW SOLUTIONS

Watercolor is often though as a "non fixable medium". Even the best Watercolor Paintings may have been adjusted and turned into a beautiful Watercolor Painting.

You can correct mistakes, and bingo a beautiful Watercolor Painting will appear

Keep this handy fix-it guide close by and consider this free watercolor software.

Problems are not in any order of the most numerous to least.

The first one does occur quite often.

PROBLEM - 1........OVERWORKING WATERCOLOR EXPRESSIONISM

When you think a few more details, few more brush strokes, pushing and pulling color over the paper, will improve the painting.  When you don't know when to stop expecting perfection, so you start fussing back and forth..That is overworking. Watercolor paint does not like being messed with , just like us .

PROBLEM - 1.........SOLUTION

 Make a stroke and leave it alone.  Don't push and stroke it again and again.  If you must, let it dry, then apply "what ever you were going to do in the first place".

Don't use tiny brushes--- they're an absolute invitation to fiddle and overwork.  Use the biggest brush you feel confident with. This is what I see every day,loading a brush with paint ,painting and painting until the paint is almost exhausted,then wondering why it looks dull , and streaky. This is what you should be doing, load the brush, paint a small area, re-load the brush, paint again (say the size of two or three postage stamps, you remember those little stick things,that did cost 10 for a dollar, last week I purchased one and had to put it on my visa card.

Glazing is the only excuse for going over a previous painted area.

PROBLEM - 2.........PALE WATERCOLORS (COLOURS)

Pale colors that look drab, weak and washed out.

PROBLEM - 2.........SOLUTION

Do not use dry, hard colors that have dried out in your palette.

Try putting fresh paint out every time you paint.  Mix generous amounts of paint in your palette.

Paint with a larger brush than you would normally use.

Perhaps you didn't catch it  -  so let me say it again in super slow motion.

1)  -  No scrubbing at a dried up blob of paint.  Squeeze out fresh paint from a tube.

2)  -  Use the right size of brush for the job.

PROBLEM - 3.........BACKRUNS

This is where the previous painted area is just damp and you introduce more color and water, and the water actually pushes the painted area leaving a tide mark on the paper.

PROBLEM - 3.........SOLUTION

Don't paint into "damp" washes.  When a wash area starts to dry,   KEEP OUT, or the fresh wash will creep into an area that is starting to dry and leave a tide mark or back run.  Always watch for any puddles of extra paint at edges of a wash and mop it up before it creeps back in.

PROBLEM - 4.........WRINKLES

Hills and valleys that form on the paper.

PROBLEM - 4.........SOLUTION

Thicker paper weight than you usually use.

Stretch the paper (click "Techniques on home page and go to stretching paper).

You might try paper that is made in a block form although it is expensive, still they tend to have smaller hills and valleys than just a sheet of paper.  I still don't like blocks.

PROBLEM - 5.........UNEVEN WASHES

Inconsistent color coverage.

PROBLEM - 5.........SOLUTION

Use a wide flat brush, make sure you don't run out of pigment.

Work fast once you have started painting.  Re-load brush on every pass with color.  In other words - DO NOT PAINT UNTIL you are about to exhaust paint on brush.  Paint a few strokes, re-load, paint, re-load etc.

Make sure if you have applied clear water to the paper it is evenly dispersed - it should leave a smooth even sheen on the paper.

PROBLEM - 6.........UNWANTED LINES, BLEMISHES ON PAPER

Not protecting tools or paper from dust, lint, hairs, grease, fingerprints and "people".

PROBLEM - 6.........SOLUTION

Try to store paper in a safe place, away from people handling the paper.

Don't buy paper that has been exposed to people sorting through the sheets.  Just imagine how many finger prints, yes with make-up on could be on each sheet.

This is why I would never, never-------buy a sheet from a store if it was not wrapped from the factory even then some doubts.  Have seen store clerks handle watercolor paper very inappropriately.

Suggest buy on line such as Dick Blick or Cheap Joe's, you also will save money.

PROBLEM - 7.........GOOD START BUT

Results are not what you had hoped for.

PROBLEM - 7.........SOLUTION

Giving up too soon.

Every painting (well nearly) goes through a "Yucky" stage and you may well start again  -  DO NOT DO THIS.

As of to-day you must finish every painting you start.

So plan your painting before grabbing the brush.  Yes I know you want to start right now, but spend a little time with thumbnail sketches, good reference materials and above all else press on to the end (with care) even if you're discouraged half way through.  Think, plan, you will not be sorry you finished the painting.

There is a reason when something does not look the way you thought it would .  Maybe lack of eperience, so don't get mad.

Art is a lifetime of fun continually putting your heart out there on the line,taking leaps into the unknown.  You will not always land on your feet. Don't get all bent out of shape, painting well, will not happen overnight.

PROBLEM - 8.........MUDDY COLORS

Dull, lifeless looking mess in your palette

PROBLEM - 8.........SOLUTION

Painting two or more opaque paints together.

Using tubes with more than one or two pigments in the tube.  Buying inferior Student Grade paint, overlapping brush loads of paint.  Going back into wet paint and overlapping brush loads of paint. 

Do this for a good illustration of mud.  Paint three colored strips side by side, Red, Green & Yellow.  Bright colorful strips, now before they dry, brush across strips back and forth.  Bingo MUD.

When you see lack of vibrant color your tendency is to fix it now.  But wait, don't work more color into a wet area you will have a bigger pool of mud on your paper.  Wait ,let it dry then try to change it. 

PROBLEM - 9.........SURFACE AND WEIGHT

What surface and explain what weight should a novice buy.

PROBLEM - 9.........ANSWER

First buy the best paper in your budget.  140 lb. Cold Press, cotton or rag content.  Five hundred sheets 22" x 30" are weighed, the thinner paper the less they weigh.  Usual weights are 90 lb. 140, 200 an 300 lb.

Surface can be Cold Press (CP), Hot Press (HP), Rough (R).  For U.K. they use (N.O.T.) meaning (CP).

Hot Press if not recommended for novices.  Rough , lot of texture available.

 

QUESTIONS:

"Acid Free"----means:-

Paper was a relatively neutral (ph) of about "7".

Low quality papers, yellow quickly (newspapers for example).

Always mat with acid free mat board or else it will eat your masterpiece when your painting and the mat board touch each other in a frame.

QUESTION

Is there a way to remove color (colour) once I have put it down on the paper.

ANSWER

Some pigments easy, some staining pigments a little harder.

Stainers will never completely come off to the white of paper.

Without a doubt Mr.Clean "Magic Eraser" does a good job.  He barely roughs up the paper.  Find him in the food store.  He contains no chemicals what-so-ever.

QUESTION

What is wet-in-wet, and when to use it?

ANSWER

First you wet paper with water or color, then go in with colors while it is still wet.

You must work quick, no not quick - FAST.  If any part of the paper starts to dry you will develop water tide marks (blossoms)

If this occurs let it finish,   DONT TRY TO FIX IT PERIOD WAIT UNTIL THE PAINTING IS DRY

Now take a damp course hair brush and gently remove tide mark,blotting with a tissue, work on about 1" in length at a time.

Wet-in-wet is unpredictable but exciting surprises happen.

Want more surprises?  Paint on Hot Press Illustration Board.

As Illustration Board is about three times the cost of a good quality piece of paper, just maybe novices should wait before attempting.

After a while you will learn to control blossoms and work them into your paintings,if that's your thing.  I love to place them in trees, hedges and backgrounds in floral's.

So you are going to use wet-in-wet in areas that no hard lines are required.  How about waterfalls?  Wave swells, skies, about 75% of mine are wet-in-wet.

This has opened a whole can of worms.

WHAT IS WET PAPER?

MOIST -----Shine has gone, but the paper still contains some moisture, NEVER -  did you hear me?  NEVER attempt to work on this surface condition.

DAMP ----Dull shine on the surface perfect for some techniques, DON'T have a dripping water brush, fairly dry brush.

WET ------Paper is shiny with water.

FLOODED

Water running off paper.

WETNESS OF YOUR BRUSH

SOPPING

Directly from water to paper.  This is O.K. if you are pre-wetting paper.  Not for painting.

WET

Brush wiped on the edge of container once or twice.

DAMP

After wiping the brush on the edge, excess is pulled out by touching the top of the ferrule with a tissue.

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME HYRODYNAMICS  101?

 

There is a law in physics which you already know, but I am going to use it in the context of watercolor painting.

When two unequal bodies of moisture meet, the body with the greatest wetness will always flow to the lesser.

It doesn't matter where or what they are.  For example water will flow off a mop on to the dry floor likewise water on the floor flows up to the dry mop.

Paint or water will flow down from a brush if the paper is dry, it will flow up the brush if the paper is wetter.

The direction of flow is always from greater wetness to lesser wetness.

So "fading out" or "losing an edge" is where a large wetness area is "faded out" or into a less wet area.

There are many occasions in watercolor when you want to fade or lose the edge, of a colored area.

This is one way, lose a few of the hard edges on the shapes as you paint them.

Example: -  Clouds have hard and soft edges.  The eye sees the hard edge, but still moves freely about the picture.

Did you know you can control "somewhat" what the viewer sees.

Losing the edge to control what the viewer sees.

The eyes focus on hard edges, you may well not know what the object or shape is until you lose an edge.

Example:- what is this mark or object?  Guess.

 

Well further down or maybe another page I will show you. 

You may see a blank space - this was my intention.

 

         

 

Did I make my point?

 

 

Do your watercolor paintings look a bit "amateurish"?

Would you like to learn how to make your watercolor paintings look more "Professional"?

 

 

 





 

Watercolor Basics

One of the biggest reasons that students fail in painting Watercolor is................. JUDGING YOUR EARLY ARTISTIC EFFORTS.

YOU DON'T NEED TO FAIL IN WATERCOLORS!

More.....

Watercolor for Beginners

Learn the basics of watercolor painting... from choosing the right paper and brushes to learning basic techniques of glazing and how to frame your work.

More.....

 

Watercolor Techniques

Learn just a few of the various techniques used most often by professional watercolorists to bring interest, texture and "life" to their watercolor paintings.

Each technique is fully demonstrated.

More...

Painting Trees

Although trees are made up of many parts and endless textures don't let them become overwhelming, you cannot fall out of these painted trees. I know you can paint good looking trees with a little help. So lets see how you are going to do this without getting bent out of shape, irritated or what-ever you do when those Green Balls on sticks appear.......been there...done that.

Painting Landscapes

I am going to present to you a "non encyclopedia" approach and give you a no fuss, logical way to paint a watercolor landscape and have fun doing it. Before we start, get comfortable maybe a favorite beverage would be in order. Make your mistakes, goofs and failures work to help you in painting a watercolor landscape.

  • Four Seasons
  • Working With Fresh Transparent Glazes
  • Watercolor Painting in the Great Outdoors
  • Painting Clouds in Watercolor
  • Step by step Demonstration on Watercolor Winter Scenes
  • Demonstration of Painting Trees Trunks
  • Demonstration of Rocks and Sea
  • Demonstration of Watercolor Skies
  • Watercolor Landscape Painting Tips

top of the page

Copyright © 2012 All rights reserved