Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ten and Not Nine: Step-by-Step Watercolor Pouring

"Ten and Not Nine" Watercolor on 140 lb. paper. 15x22

To create "Ten and Not Nine," I first sketched out my design on 140 lb. Kilamanjaro paper and used drawing gum to mask out the areas that I wanted to leave white. 

Next, I mix up some paint. I pour with primaries only. I usually try to stick with transparent watercolors that are made with a single pigment. 

I wet my paper and squirt paint on with a pipette. This is my first pour. The drawing gum protects the paper from the paint and makes sure that those parts remain white. 

I decide that I want a little bit of texture in this piece to give the light an energetic feel. Yeah, that is holiday tinsel I'm using for the texture. Don't judge. 

I pile some books on top of the tinsel to hold it down while the paint dries. That will help it texture the image a little bit more. 

Once dry, I remove the books. This is what it looks like.

The tinsel leaves a pattern that reminds me slightly of something you might see under a microscope. That inspires me to try out some more texture methods with my students. Ooh! Side project:

Now that the side project is finished, it's back to work on "Ten and Not Nine." I add more drawing gum. This time, I am masking out the second to lightest value. Remember, the first layer protected the parts that I wanted to remain white. These parts are light, but not white. 

I didn't show the part where I pipe on another layer of paint and put tinsel on top of it, but I did it. This is what the second layer looks like once dried.  

And the third layer...

And the fourth layer...

All of the masking and pouring is finished at this point! This is where I start to wonder what my painting looks like underneath all of that drawing gum. 

So I use a rubber cement pick up to start taking the drawing gum off...

And I get to see how the layers underneath the drawing gum look...

Once I remove the drawing gum, I assess the situation. In general, I'm happy with it, but I definitely want to soften some lines and unify the color a bit. 

I wet a scrubber brush and start moving paint around. 

Getting closer...

I continue to scrub, but it becomes apparent that I am not going to get the color unity that I want just from scrubbing. I must do something more drastic. 

I wet down the hair with my sprayer and pour a layer of yellow paint over the hair. 

Yep, that's better! My work here is finished. 

Are you wondering how long a painting like this takes? See How Long Does it Take to Create a Watercolor Painting? 
Want to see more about how the pouring method works? See Start to Finish: Pouring Watercolor.

If you want to commission a painting, contact me by email at or visit my website at Be sure to connect with me on Facebook.

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