These "quips" help my students remember techniques that they learned in class. Scroll on down to learn about paper, overworking a painting, Painting a Shape and Touch-and-Weep methods.

YOUR PAPER
Use Arches watercolor paper, coldpress, 140 pound.  Paint flows well and drys nicely on quality paper. Cheap paper warps and shows lines from screen the paper pulp was placed on. Your paper has a "tooth" to it. I like to call it the "fuzzies". If you use too many brush strokes on the tooth of the paper, it flattens the fuzzies and the paint will not look fresh and translucent. Your painting can look overworked. DO NOT USE A LOT OF BRUSH STROKES.  You cannot mold water like you can oil or acrylic paint so you are destroying the part that makes the watercolor flow.

TECHNIQUES THAT STOP OVERWORKING

Erasing, painting and working with Watercolor Paper

Your paper has a texture on it that allows watercolor to travel across it. Lightly touch your paper with hands, brush, pencil and erasers. You need that tooth to stay UP so the watercolor can travel across it and show transparency and light under the paint. The more you push on the paper with your hands, eraser, pencil or brush, the more you push that nap down.

Use a kneaded eraser and lightly erase pencil lines or graphite from the paper. If you press hard, you destroy the tooth (or nap) of the paper.

Do Not Draw on Watercolor Paper! Try This

Do not draw my image on the watercolor paper. Draw the image on any paper but the watercolor paper, then when finished, make a black and white copy. Do not make "hairy" or sketchy lines. Keep the lines clean and flowing so you know where to paint. After you make the copy, outline the image with a 7 ml drafting pencil on the copy. Why a drafting pencil? Regular pencils tend to make larger lines. You want a definite outline.

After you finish outlining on the copy, put tracing paper on the copy and follow the outline you put on the copy. Why all this work? When you have the outline on the tracing paper, you can see definite shapes to paint. It helps from being confused later, as to where to put the paint. You have to move too fast with watercolor to worry about shapes that go behind shapes and which shape is a petal, stem or background.

After you are satisfied with the outline on the tracing paper, make a copy of the outline. Tape the copy of the outline on the watercolor paper with two pieces of tape at the top, so you can lift the copy up and place graphite paper under it.  Use Sally's graphite paper. It is the only one I can find that can be erased. DO NOT USE YOUR HAND TO PRESS IT DOWN. If you do, you will have graphite paw marks on your watercolor paper. UGH. Gently outline the shapes using a red pen, so you can see what you have outlined. Lift the copy up, every once in a while, to see if your image is on the watercolor paper. The more you put your paws on that paper, the more paw prints you are going to erase! 

After you have finished, remove the graphite paper and flip the copy up and down, focusing on the watercolor paper, in areas that you cannot find your lines.

Erasing Graphite from Watercolor Paper

After you are satisfied with the outline on the paper, use a kneaded eraser to remove paw prints and undesired lines. LIGHTLY erase the lines. DO NOT PRESS HARD. Think about the tooth of the paper by lightly erasing, making large swipes toward you.

Overusing the Brush

Use fluid swipes with the brush instead of short movements. Paint one time in an area instead of painting over the area again and again. When you are constantly using the brush in one area, it pushes the paint down into the paper, making it hard to remove, destroys the tooth or nap of the paper, and makes the paper concave in the area you are overworking. You cannot mold water like you can oil and acrylic paint. If you are painting over and over again in the same area, it is usually because you are trying to move the paint to another location. This means you do not have enough paint or water. Instead of using the brush to move the paint, wick the paint onto a drop of water and let the water do the painting. 

 

PAINTING A SHAPE

Swipe water in the middle of "Shape A" to wet most of the shape, then outline the inside of the shape by pointing the brush perpendicular to each line inside the shape. Do not lift the paper to view the water. Do not use a lot of strokes. You should only paint areas that are dry with very few strokes. Ignore the corners as you outline the shape with water. Concentrate on outlining the shape until you meet your starting point.

THEN lift the paper to view islands of dry areas. Swipe the brush on them once. Swipe the corners. You should have a sheen of water inside the shape.

NOW dip the brush in the water. Wick the water onto the sheen without touching the paper.  When you have a sheen with a small drop of water that can move around the shape, you are ready to apply paint.  

Your paint on your palette should be thick like heavy cream. Scoop up paint so the brush is full.

Move your paper so the drop of water in the shape evenly covers the shape, then move the drop of water to a corner. Wick the paint into a corner of the shape, onto the drop of water five times. Do not touch the paper, just the water. (Color the water, not the paper, you know, that is why it is called watercolor!)

Put your brush down. Mix the heavy paint into the water drop by moving your paper slowly, back and forth along the "indent" of the shape. Avoid letting the paint move into the "bubble" of the shape. It will as it drys but.. if you pay attention to it and keep the paint in the indents and corners, the bubble of the shape will stay translucent and the corners and the indents of the shape will be darker.

This technique creates a shape that shows light on the bubble of the shape and depth in the corners and indents of a shape.
 

TOUCH-AND-WEEP METHOD (Advanced Technique)
Use the Touch-and-Weep method to create dark color in crevices, then evolve into transparent color where the light hits the round curves of the clothes, beard or skin. If you have not experienced this technique, I suggest you practice before you paint.

1. Paint heavy color in a corner or crevice with one swipe.
2. Clean your brush so that it is medium wet. 
3. While wet, swish the brush 1/4” away from the edge of the paint. In the same movement, touch the edge of the paint so the weight of the paint allows it to weep into the water you swished close to the paint.