Friday, September 23, 2011

Process of making a watercolor

In case you are curious how long it takes to paint a watercolor and what is involved in the process, here it is step by step:
First step is selecting good paper.  I like to use professional grade 140 lbs. cold press paper you can purchase at art stores, no watercolor pads! Of course the higher the number of pounds on the paper, the finer the quality, so one day I would love to paint on 500 lbs. cold press.  Cold press has finer texture, hot press is rougher and works well for other artists, but I like to add intricate detail to my pieces therefore I stick with smoother cold press paper.
 Next comes the sketching, it takes anywhere from 10 minutes to hours to get the people and places just how you want them. 
One of the most crucial and important steps in painting watercolors is called stretching.  The paper must be made wet and stretched with special brown tape on your board to keep it from buckling and bulging.  Watercolors are never painted on an easel, unless you use dry brush technique, beacause water color is a very wet, runny medium and does not work well in any position but flat, unless you are painting something abstract of course.
When the paper is almost dry I start painting.  Some watercolorists prefer to paint when the paper is wet, but I prefer to control the flow of paint, it helpes me create more detailed pieces.

Then come first layers of watercolors, to make watercolor rich and vibrant you might have to use many layers of paint, but I, like many others, love watercolors for their transparency and softness, so I only usually do about 6-10 layers and prefer softer hues of paint.
 Here is "Mr.Darcy and Elizabeth dancing at Netherfield" all finished.
 After carefully peeling away the brown tape I use a special cutter to make sure the edges of my painting are straight and it is ready to frame.
When the project is finisthed I take photos and scan my piece and put it up in my store.  Some of the paintings get made into cards and bookmarks and prints.  I love wrapping them up in brown paper packages and sealing them with wax before sending them off.  I love how being an artist has helped me make friends all over the world and knowing that my art brings some sunshine into some people's lives is a great blessing.

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