Watercolor wet in wet Art Lesson by Shanti Marie

work in progress Koi verticle

I’ve explained this technique before but let me remind you of the first steps. 1, you wet the paper on both sides but do not soak it. The paper can be either 300 lb 100% cotton rag or 140 lb paper. You want some of the sizing so this is why I do not soak the paper. Blotter paper is very difficult to get crisp edges and this is what the paper can turn into if soaked. If you choose the 300 lb, you will have to wet it more thoroughly. I use a large sponge being very careful not to scratch the surface or make any pressing marks into the soft paper.
The next step is to have your paints wet and moist and ready to go.
2. Put the paint on thickly almost three times thicker then you would normally. This is while the paper is still glistening wet. Use non staining colors first and over lap with the darker staining colors. An example would be cobalt blue and raw sienna then pathlo blue and sepia.   You place the colors onto the paper with emotion and relax and have fun not trying to figure out where it is going just make pleasing combinations.

3.When the entire paper is covered with this thick paint you will spray it with water to get the colors to mingle and move, this gives this layer of the painting movement and exciting combinations happen. I turn the painting up at various angles so the water and the paint can do its own thing.  This can be a bit nerve racking but trust your intuition and instincts and you will be rewarded.  This  is where your Muse is allowed into the works.  Don’t get in their way with too many preconceive notions, allow yourself the freedom to have the painting dictate where it wants to go.  If there are puddles soak them up with a tissue and make sure the thickness of the water and paint is pretty uniform all over the paper.  Puddles will dry too slow and will cause back runs which can be very interesting but may hinder your progression to the next step.

4. Let the paper dry back a bit but never dry just not soaking wet.  If there, are dry spots mist lightly with a spray bottle, I like a chloreseptic bottle because of the fine mist b any spray bottle filled with water will work.  

5. Start to remove paint where the fish or anything else will be that you wish to be in the next layer.  You should use a  wet soft elephant ear or sea sponge or wet soft brush.  You are now going to remove paint. You use a damp brush or sponge which will not add water to the paper but will soak up paint and water from the paper. You will work in a manner that is consistent with the shape.  You make long flowing motions for long shapes etc.  Pull the wetness out of your brush after each stroke by pulling the  brush or sponge thru a rag or paper towel. This will seems like a waste of good paint, believe me you have to let that go.  This is art and economy isn’t the main thing. If your worried about waste you won’t be free to really create.  Watch the paper as you pull the paint away, it will not go back to pure white but keep stoking light, see if the color is seeping back into the shape and continue until you feel the shape is correct.  There may be blemishes of color that will not be removed.  Don’t worry about these they will add texture and interest.  If they are really ugly I can tell you how to hide them.   The water may seep back in so the timing is the important thing here.  What I found is the first time you try this you won’t be fast enough to get all your fish or objects pulled out of the background( before it drys) so you’ll have to start a bit sooner and redo the first one again.  At least your getting your composition in place, also when you go back to clean up the first one, the paper will be much dryer and will give you some crisper edges.  Allow some edges to soften in places and keep some hard, this will give you variety and also help establish the focal points.  After you finish this stage your paper has lost it shine but is still very wet.  You can now use a wetter brush if you cannot pull out items  the paper is a bit too dry. Don’t scrub at this stage.


6. Let dry avoid the urge to play with the painting, this will only cause it to look overworked and stiff. 

If you want some more texture you sprinkle salt  into the drying image or spray with with ( this is what I do)  water….to create some texture into the drying background.   



I’ll post the progress and give you a new updated photo of the piece this week check back with me, for part two.