May 26, 2017

Technique: World of Watercolor Part 1

Have you ever tried water-coloring and if so, how did you like it? I often hear from customers and clients: "Hm? I have tried it, but it never turned out right" or "Oh this is not my kind of medium". 
Water-coloring is one of the greatest ways to bring color to your project. All you need are a few items and some practice. So were should you start and what are the best materials to use? 

Watercolor Pencils vs. Paints

I think the easiest way to practice and get your feet wet with water-coloring is to buy yourself a set of watercolor pencils. They are relatively inexpensive and go along way. In case you determine this is not your medium, you can always use them as coloring pencils too ;-)
Close to My Heart has a pretty nice set of watercolor pencils (3505) with a nice variety of colors. There are other companies out on the market that have sets in different sizes too, just browse around and see which colors would be the best pick for you. 

As an alternative, watercolor paints would be a good pick. With these you will be able to create really nice backgrounds and cover big areas on your paper. Those too come in a variety of settings and most companies have a nice beginner set. Close to My Heart offers this watercolor paint set (Z3132) see here on the left, which includes a lot of different colors.
So while paints are great for big areas to color in, pencils will be a bit easier to handle when you try to get a more detailed picture done.

Watercolor Paper vs. Regular Cardstock

This is were the color medium you picked comes into play. Watercolor paper will work with both, the pencils and the paint, but the regular cardstock will be best for working with watercolor pencils. Why?, you might ask and what is the difference?

Watercolor paper is meant to absorb water. While the paper comes in different weights, it is generally rough in texture. If you take a piece of watercolor paper and run your fingers over it, you will feel the little bumps. One side is a little smoother than the other. Which one you pick is up to you. There is no right or wrong site :-) But picking the right weight is crucial. If you pick a watercolor paper that is too thin, it will warp and quickly absorb water and therefore get quickly unstable and hard to work with. On the other hand it is not necessary to buy a really thick paper either. My suggestion is, buy a block of watercolor paper around 140 lb. This is a nice weight to work with. My favorite paper is the CANSON XL watercolor paper. You can find it pretty much everywhere and it is not to expensive either. 

While working with watercolor pencils, you can use plain white cardstock to color in your objects. Again, don't use to thin cardstock or print paper. Make sure it is of a good quality and smooth. Our "Close to My Heart Daisy White" cardstock or "Neenah Classic Crest Super Smooth Solar White" cardstock are great for this technique.

Paintbrush vs. Waterbrush

Well, this one is easy, there is not best. It is all about your preference. If you use a regular paintbrush, make sure to buy a good quality one. Don't fall for the cheap set. There is nothing worse then when you start coloring and your brush is loosing constantly hair! I bought a set of Michael's brand (Artist Loft) and each brush I tried lost hair everywhere. I had it in the watercolor paints, my colored papers etc. I tossed them all after using them ones.
CTMH has a really good set (Z3188) or Ranger has the same configuration of brushes in a set. Don't be cheap when you buy a brush. 

The water-brushes have the advantage that the tank is filled with water and by simply pressing on the side you squeeze water out. Makes it easy to clean and to activated watercolor paints. The thing I don't like about them, they start leaking after a while which makes it hard to color with. It is also very hard to control the amount of water that comes out, which is important for your technique. 
These brushes come usually in small, medium and large sizes, see here some examples.

Ink for stamped image

This option is only for the watercolor pencil technique relevant. If you are going to use watercolor paints to create  backgrounds, no ink is needed.

Why do you need a special ink to stamp your images before you start with your watercolor pencils? Let's say you bought your new watercolor pencils and you stamped an image, colored it in and leave it this way. Perfect, no worries about the ink here, but then, you are not using the full potential of your watercolor pencils.

Next you stamped your image, you colored them in and you would like to use water to activate and blend your pencil strokes...well now it is very important to have the right ink to stamp our image with. Why you ask?
You have inks that are alcohol base, water based, dye based or a combination of a few (called hybrids). Every time you like to add water to an image, you have to make sure the ink you stamped with is not water based otherwise it will smudge. I usually use StazOn for stamping my images or an archival ink will work too. 
Note: When you stamp a phrase on watercolor paper, always use these inks too otherwise the phrase will be bleeding out in the paper. You still will not archive a very crisp image, especially when you use a delicate stamp because the watercolor paper isn't smooth. So keep this in mind when you try to add your phrase. If you like a crisp image, add an extra piece of cardstock with the phrase on it!

How much water is to much or not enough?

This is tricky and it depends again on the medium you choose and the paper you work on. Let's talk about watercolor paints first:

So you picked a nice piece of watercolor paper. I usually cut the big sheets down to about card size. You also plan on using some watercolor paints with it and lets say you are going to try a few things to create backgrounds.

Here is my first suggestion to start:
Use a nice wide brush, dip it into clean water and really load it up. Take the brush and cover the whole piece of watercolor paper with water. You will notice that the water is absorbed by the paper. Now continue until you see a light shimmer of water on top. Now take your brush and use a little bit of water and go into your paints. Run the brush careful through the paint. The more water you use the light the color will be: less the dark it will be. Take the colored brush and dip it over your paper. The color will flow along, just let it run. Now clean your brush and pick up another color and repeat. You can use as many colors as you like. I would stick at the beginning with 2-3, e.g. blue, pink and violet or yellow, orange and red.
Let the colors flow and mix on the paper, than let it dry completely. If the paper is warped to much, place a big book over night on it or carefully use an iron. You just created your first watercolor background and it might look somewhat like the purple-pink one on the top here or the orange underneath it.

Here is my second suggestion to start:

Dip the brush in water and go directly into the paint. Pick up some paint with a good amount of water and go across the paper left to right. Clean your brush and pick up the next color...continue until the paper is covered. If your colors are not blending enough at the seam, clean your brush, use some clean water and brush over the seam of the two colors again. Continue to do so until you like the result. 

My last suggestion for this background technique:
Dip your brush in clean water and draw a rectangular/ square on your watercolor paper. Continue to do so until your rectangular/ square shows on top of the paper. Now proceed with either suggestion one "dipping color onto" or suggestion two "brushing stripes onto" the rectangular/ square that is drawn with the water. 
It is hard to describe. The purpose of drawing a rectangular/ square on the paper with water first, will confine the color somewhat in this area. You will not end up with a clear rectangle/ square but the color will stay somewhat in this shape. You can see a few examples in the picture.

OK, this was a lot to start with, but don't give up and try it. The more you try and test, the better things will go. Don't throw any of your creations away, there is always use for them. I will give you many more examples on what to do with these " I like part of this piece" creations :-)

The pencils will need another day to be explained, since we will do a few things different with them. Check back next Friday to learn more about watercolors and see more examples of the cards that I made for this our May BlogHop.

I hope you enjoy these little follow ups and you will give it a try. Let me know what you think and please contact me if you have questions. You can email me or simply comment below. I would love to hear from you :-)

Stay tuned.....   

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Claudia. Thanks for the very Informative post. I just received the CTMH watercolors and I'm itching to try them!