Using your brushes or an old toothbrush to splatter paint onto a piece is one of the easiest ways you can quickly add detail and enhance a piece. Whether it be white stars in a night sky, brush in a landscape, or freckles on a face, the random markings of paint splatter can add just the right touch to any piece.
How to do it:
First, it’s important to use opaque paint when splattering (especially stars) so the markings show up. White watercolor is often too translucent, so using gouache or acrylic for splatter is best.
Mix the proper ratio of paint to water so the splatter still shows up, but it liquid enough to sprinkle randomly.
You can tap two brushes together to achieve a splatter, or you can use a brush or old toothbrush and swipe your finger across the tip to splatter the paint onto the paper.
Professional watercolor artist Steve Mitchell demonstrates his splatter technique in this landscape painting.
There are countless ways to use tape when creating art. Whether you’re just adding an aesthetic border with crisp, clean lines, or you’re creating special designs, it’s time to get creative with tape.
Or just simply creating a clean border like Jordan Rhodes did in this piece (also notice the paint splatter!)
You can also play with edges and let some of the piece come over the borders you’ve created. Have fun with it!
You don’t need to spend money to take advantage of these hacks. Use common items you likely have around the house to add textures and details to your watercolor paintings.
Paper towel or tissues:
Use paper towel or tissues to blot wet watercolor and create clouds or greys.
Sprinkling rock salt or table salt on a wet watercolor wash creates a unique effect that you can use for a background, sand, rocks, or whatever your creative mind desires. Let the salt sit on top of the wash until dry, then brush it away.
Sponges work especially well to create foliage. Check out Gay Kraeger’s method for making trees with a sponge. Make sure the sponge layer is dry before adding the wash on top.
A wider range of values from light to dark can be used, and the middle tone makes it easier for the artist to deliberately place shadows and highlights.
Keeping the value of the paper as one of the values in the drawing not only saves time, but allows the artist to use graphite or other dark media to push darker values and white pencils or other light media to add highlights, making sketches and drawings
There is no white watercolor paint that can create a highlight or a white as vibrant as the natural color of the paper. You could use white acrylic or gouache to add white back into a watercolor piece, but a clean and effective way to maintain bright highlights and white on the paper is to use a masking pen or masking fluid.
Masking fluid gets applied to the paper prior to laying paint down and will protect the surface from being penetrated by any paint. Once everything is dry, the mask can be peel up to reveal a clean, white surface. Masking fluid can be applied with a brush, or you can find masking fluids in pen/marker format, making it easy to deliberately reserve areas of white on the paper.
A ruler can be used in a traditional manner to create straight lines when drawing, but it can be more difficult to paint straight lines. If a ruler is laid flat on the paper to paint a straight line, paint seeps underneath and smudges on the paper.
Staring at a blank sketchbook page can be intimidating. All that open space to fill in! A great way to break down this barrier is to section your sketchbook pages into small squares and rectangles and create one small drawing at a time.