Working wet on wet in watercolour

Watch how working on a wet surface influences pigment movement and creates multi-layered, blended effects in your painting.

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In this Masterclass we will look at the watercolour technique called wet on wet. When working to this method the wet surface allows the colour to move around and mix on the paper. In the demonstration three colours are used to mix up two separate washes. The colours used are Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Yellow and Cerulean Blue and are all from the Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolour range.

The first wash you will create is a mixture of pure Cadmium Yellow, with just a touch of Alizarin Crimson in the mix. It's handy to make this mixture in a clear glass jar, as it will enable you to see the opacity of the paint and also make sure that the paint has been properly dispersed. You will notice that this addition of the crimson helps dull the brightness of the cadmium yellow.

The second wash is dominated by Cerulean Blue; a lovely granular colour that you can really get the most from when using wet on wet. As with the previous mix, a little Alizarin Crimson should be added to create a light purple. The mixture should be roughly 80% Cerulean Blue to 20% Alizarin Crimson.

Next carefully wet an area of the paper with pure water; at this point do not mix any paint with the water. In the video you will also notice that the painting surface is tilted slightly at a 30° angle.

Firstly apply the lightest wash; your cadmium yellow and alizarin crimson mixture. Already you will be able to see a difference between the dry paper and the area you have wet. The pigment will slowly bleed into the wet area of the paper, whereas the dry area will stay white in contrast.

Now add in your purple wash. Initially the colours may look very naïve, but watch carefully as they slowly mix and separate on the paper. You will notice that as the paint bleeds across the paper the Alizarin will split from the Cerulean and leave a lovely pink hue behind. It's also interesting to see how the sediment of the Cerulean pigment settles into the texture of the paper. There are also patches where the yellow and blue will have mixed to form a green. You can remove any excess water from the hard lines with a brush.

It is important to note that when you are using the wet on wet method you will need to mix your tones slightly darker than you would for a dry and dry technique. This is because your colours will dilute once they have been applied to the water already on the paper.

Read more about Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolours

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