Pouring Watercolors

I named the painting above, "A Walk on the Beach." It was the first of several paintings using the technique of "pouring."

Pouring Watercolor - Yes, you read it correctly. Pouring watercolor is an exciting technique that I learned at a watercolor workshop a little while back. It was one of those workshop sessions that drove me straight to hyperville. Did I mention that I have a hard time giving up control?

Pouring watercolor is exactly that. In my case, three primary colors of Watercolor paint mixed with water in 3 separate containers is what I poured onto a half-sheet of Arches 140 lb watercolor paper.

I first drew my subject onto the paper being very careful not to use any erasing. (It affects the way the paint absorbs.) Then I stretched and stapled, and using artist tape, I taped it onto a gatorboard (thick foam core board). Taping is important because you want to prevent any paint from seeping under your paper.

Pre-planning your pour is necessary with this technique. A few important questions to ask yourself:

  ~ Where are my lights and darks?
  ~ What two or more colors make what color when they're    applied one on top of the other?
  ~ When and to what should I apply mask? That's the liquid rubber frisket that prevents an area from receiving color.
  ~ What color shoes will I end up with when I miss the tray and pour paint onto the floor?

I must say that after all was said and done I really like the results. A brush could not have achieved what the pours could.

I was fortunate. After my final pour and mask removal I did not have to do anything else. (That's not always the case.) My poured watercolor,  "A Walk On The Beach," was completely done and ready to be framed!

I'll leave you with 3 Important Tips:

1) Mix your paint and water really well. I found a whisk to be very helpful with this but a small jar with a tight lid would work beautifully for shaking. Note:  When you think you've got it all mixed and ready to go, mix some more!

2) Masking fluid has an expiration date. Always test it on scrap paper before you apply it. Pour out what you'll use into a little cup and cap the bottle and turn it upside down for storage.

3) If this is your first pour, give yourself a break and be willing to experiment. Learn what the paint will do. And most of all, have fun!

Linda Baker is known for her beautiful poured watercolors. Click here to see her demonstration on her basic pouring techniques:  Video Instruction on Pouring Watercolors

Credits:  "A Walk On The Beach" was painted with permission using a reference photograph taken by my friend and photographer, Cindy Biggerstaff of Harrisburg, IL.

Blue Sweater - 5x7 Watercolor on Paper