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Lesson Plans

Re: watercolor tricks

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Linda Kelty (lckelty)
Sun, 25 Jul 1999 08:32:24 -0400

Dawn Wilson Wrote:
I was wondering if anyone could pass on some fun, simple tricks to do
with watercolor paints.

Linda K. responded:
Watercolor is a great medium to teach science. There are several processes
for different effects that involve absorption or resistance. I have taught
numerous classes in College for Kids and gallery programs using watercolor
and everyone, young and old alike, get very excited about this approach.
I usually have everyone make a sample sheet with a small swatch of the
method before incorporating it into creative painting. That way everyone
has a "text" of their own to refer to when they are not in the class.
Resist Processes:
Watercolor is a water media and will not chemically bond with anything
containing oil. Wax is a form of oil. (simplified explanations). It will
also not bond or mix with other substances like alcohol or soap which is
These chemicals resist: wax or oil crayon, vegetable or linseed oil, oil
paints, rubbing alcohol, liquid or bar hand soap.

I teach them wash, blend, complex blending, wet-in-wet and overwashing.
Then I demonstrate resists with washes, usually using crayons ( I prefer
multiple colors and patterned areas with open space), drawing through wax
paper, etc.. I then show them alcohol resist using an eye dropper to apply
the alcohol. This is done over a single color wash and also on a dried
wet-in-wet with a wet overwash on it. The paint must be mid-stage in drying
for alcohol or soap to work. I instruct the students to wait to apply the
alcohol or soap until they can see the "tooth" of the paper beginning to
show through the wet pigment. The hardest thing for students is to wait
long enough for the surface to be ready. This is also true of blotting
techniques with absorbent paper towels or blotter paper (hard to find!)
Soap is applied with a paint brush.
Dry laundry soap with out bleach can be sprinkled for another resist effect.
Absorption Processes:
Salt absorbs pigment when applied while damp. It creates a star like
pattern of light and dark. The coarser the salt, the larger the stars.
Allow to dry flat with the pigment. Do not remove before dried.
Blotter paper picks up lines, edges and corners depending on how it is
applied to the damp surface.
Paper towels can be folded into multiple layers for straight edges, or
crumpled to lift color. I usually show this process with trees or natural
growth of some kind.
Plastic wrap laid over a wet area, wrinkled into fractured patterns with the
fingers and allowed to dry creates a fragmented texture that works really
well for generating gestalt images or creating textured stone walls, close
up leaves, etc.
Friskets are areas that are blocked out of a painting so that you can
control the negative space and save whites to paint into. A frisket can be
commercially prepared, or you can use rubber cement, cut or torn masking
tape, contact paper, etc. Essentially, a frisket is anything with a
removable adhesive that will mask out the surface of the paper to maintain
whites. Rubber cement just rolls off with a finger when dry.
I demonstrate 2 techniques, have students do it, then continue with a
demonstration showing application. I encourage creative use of the
techniques in their own composition with their choice of subject matter. I
also try to have them approach at least one painting with a plan and a
preliminary sketch and one where the spontaneity of the watercolor
determines the results. Most students will try everything with varying
levels of success, developing favorite techniques, or combinations of
approaches. I also discuss serendipity and using the unpredictable nature
of watercolor to best advantage.
You can also do water trails, creating a line drawn with water and dropping
wet pigments along the water "trail" to flow together.
Hope this helps Dawn. I love this stuff and so do my students. Linda K.