Frequently Asked Questions

How should I be using the Lifting Preparation Medium?

I have been experimenting with some of your water colour mediums and have found some wonderful effects.  I would be interested to know how you recommend the Lifting Preparation to be used.  Should I apply it to just the areas which I want to lift later and will the paint look different where I've used it?

I'm glad you're enjoying the mediums, there certainly are many effects which can be achieved and it will be interesting to see over the years how artists incorporate these into their work.  With regard to Lifting Preparation, we recommend you prepare the whole sheet for two reasons.  Firstly, you may change your mind where you want to lift and secondly, although the washes will not appear any different on top of the Lifting Preparation, lines will show if you washed over the edge onto unprepared paper.

How do I use Ox Gall to improve flow and acceptance on paper?

I have read that ox gall improves flow and acceptance on paper, what sort of effects will this give and what quantities should I use?

Ox gall increases wetting, so two colours will bleed into each other more when using them wet into wet on the paper.  Or if painting in lines, the improved flow from the ox gall will produce a more even colour line which may go further.  Some water colour papers are quite hard sized and may resist water colour washes.  Using ox gall will wet the surface and allow the wash to spread.  The amount used depends on the degree of wetting required, initially add a few drops into your jar of water.

Should I use Gum Arabic for overpainting?

Having used water colour for many years, I have recently taken to Designers' Gouache as I like to be able to cover previous layers when overpainting.  Should I be using extra Gum Arabic and if so, how much?

It is advisable to use extra gum arabic when painting in layers with Winsor & Newton gouache.  Make up a mixture of 10% gum and water and use this for thinning the colours.  Use more gum arabic with any colours which smudge when dry but be careful not to use too much or the colours will take on an uneven gloss.

I'm having difficulty with Granulation Medium. How should I be using it?

I have tried your Granulation Medium with my water colours and have had some difficulty in achieving any success.  Sometimes the wet wash shows more granulation than the dry.  Have you got any tips on the use of this medium?

Granulation Medium will cause colours which usually give smooth washes to granulate to a greater or lesser degree depending on the pigment.  Generally the modern pigments, prefixed by ‘Permanent' or ‘Winsor' will be most affected by the medium.  For maximum affect, wet the desired area of your paper with the medium and then make a wash[es] using the medium instead of water.  Apply it and leave to dry.  All granulated washes dry flatter but if you are suffering from this then stand over your wash as it dries and keep disturbing it with a brush.  This will prevent the wash just flowing into itself and levelling out.  Granulation is also increased by the roughness of the paper and by the absorbency.

As with all techniques any new method needs practice and as with all water colour washes you can never guarantee to get exactly the same results every time.

What are the effects of Ox gall to water colours and where can I get hold of some?

I know the old masters added ox gall to their water colours - what effects did this help them achieve?  And where can one get hold of it today, short of asking at the butcher's?

Ox gall is a wetting agent and is used in the water colours themselves.  It increases flow on hard sized papers and encourages washes to bleed into each other when wet.  You can buy it in 75ml bottles by Winsor & Newton.  Add a few drops to your water before you dilute the colour.

How can I achieve Turner-style sheen on my paintings?

Turner's water colours often seem to have a slight sheen - was this varnish, or gum arabic in the paint?  I like the effect and would like to imitate it.

The sheen is from the use of gum arabic in the wash.  Different amounts may be needed with different colours, be careful not to use too much or you'll get a very glossy result.

How do I lessen bleed on lightly sized paper?

I prefer the texture of rough, lightly sized paper, but find my colours bleed more than I want.  Is there anything I can do to lessen this?

You can try Winsor & Newton Lifting Preparation as this will reduce the absorbency of the paper.  If lightweight it may need stretching before you apply it.  You could also try a selection of Rough water colour papers, as they are sized correctly to accept water colour but will still give you texture.