Watercolor Tricks & Techniques


The following photos are taken from a poster I made as a reference guide for lower elementary children during an art project for the school auction.  For more about the art project please check out 'Our Universe.'

wax resist watercolor, salt resist watercolor
Wax repels watercolor and can be used to maintain the color of your paper or to protect the first color you paint.
watercolor salt resist
Salt repels the color and attracts the water.  It is best used after your wash has begun to set for a bit, but before it is dry.
sea salt resist watercolor
Try using different sizes of salt for different results.  Too much salt will blur these effects.

Rubber bands, thread, string and yarn can create free form effects on your paper.  These rubber bands were dipped in the watercolor and were allowed to dry on the paper before they were removed.

plastic wrap watercolors

Plastic wrap can create different effects depending on the length of time it is allowed to remain on the paper, and whether it is crumpled or not.  Waxed paper and tin foil can also create interesting textures.
scratching watercolor paper
A wire brush is used to scratch the paper.  When scratched into a wet wash, you can get much bolder lines, as the paint sinks into the damaged paper fibers.  The green dots were from my finger, dipped first into the watercolor.
tape mountains watercolor
Painter's tape can be used to block off areas on your paper that you don't want to be painted.  The background sky was painted first in this example, then covered in tape to paint the black mountains.
straw technique watercolors dots

Try stamping or printing with watercolor in a drinking straw.  The watercolor will fill the end of the straw to create a filled circle when stamped.  Tap the straw first (before stamping) to create the outline of a circle.

wax resist sun watercolors


This paper was first painted yellow.  Wax was then used to draw a sun which resisted the final black wash that covered the paper.

wax resist spirals watercolor

Spirals were drawn in these two pictures using a wax candle, then a wash was applied over the paper.

plastic wrap wax resist watercolor jupiter

Jupiter was created using yellow paint with plastic wrap.  Once dry, a red spot was added and allowed to dry.  Wax drawn in a circle shape covered the planet while black watercolor filled the sky and was swept across the planet.

This storm scene is a combination of the wire brush, wax zig zag and a tissue to blot the cloud.

watercolor techniques

A wet tissue will absorb more paint then a dry tissue.  Clouds are formed using a wet tissue and a wire brush to create grass.
 These clouds were created using wet tissue.  Once dry, a very tiny brush with white acrylic paint was used to create birds.

White watercolor was splattered on top of a wet orange wash.  Once dry, a yellow watercolor paint was brushed over the top.

Making these sample watercolors was eye opening.  There are so many techniques that I would have never thought about using without the suggestions from a watercolor book.  Go check one out at your library and browse through it.  Google 'rubber cement and watercolor,' ...you may have an "Aha!" moment like I did.

Check out how the students watercolors turned out: