The Pouring Technique by snowmask

The Pouring Technique

by snowmask in Walkthroughs; 2010 - 2011

I am using my painting "A Slow Drift" to demonstrate the pouring technique used in watercolours; or in other words, how to make watercolours paint itself.

A complete walkthrough of the painting, which also contains larger images, can be found on my website in the "In Studio" section.

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I am starting from the point where I had just finished the woman and her hair.

Big jump in steps – sometimes I just get so into it that I forget to document. First of all I had the girl masked with workable fixative. Armed with a compass and ruler, I marked out these circular shapes. The night spent masking the patterns with masking fluid was very long, and more or less a blur.

After letting the mask dry over night to a firm latex, the next morning I splattered on some more masking fluid for good measure, let it dry for a few minutes, and worked on the background, using diluted prussian blue and a good many layers to reach a darker value. A very light wash of cadmium yellow was applied to the top edge of the water, as well as the body and hair of the girl.

With the help of a blow-dryer, the surface was dried, and the latex masked pulled off, to reveal the circular patterns. I then sprayed the surface with workable fixative and gave it another layer of blue, so the white semi-circles would blend in a bit more. The white “bubbles” were released at the very end.

Now this is fun part, where we focus on the pouring technique, or in other words, allowing watercolours to “paint itself”.

At this point I’ve already finished the big water splash, and the dove. All painted areas have been protected with workable fixative to prevent colours from running. I have also created masks for the reeds.

The paper was first sprayed wet to create a more workable, “sliding” surface. I diluted magenta in a little glass bowl and began pouring very carefully., staying close to the top and side edges of the paper in order to create a circular gradient.

The pouring technique is a 3-part juggling act, where the paper has to be constantly tilted to get the colours moving, the occasional spray from a water bottle to encourage flow, and paper towels for instant blotting should mistakes occur. Spraying water also results in very interesting textures and irregular patterns.

The pink portions of the sky have dried using a blow-dryer, and masked with workable fixative. Now on to the darker part of the gradient, using dioxazine purple. The pouring technique entails that brushes are used as little as possible, however sometimes the colours need a bit of coaxing, as seen here.

My husband Keith /khavinsky captured an excellent action shot here, which shows just how the paint moves across the wet paper surface as I tilt it.

Now that the purples have dried, it’s time to add dynamism to the painting by applying cadmium yellow to the centre of the skyline. Paper towels come in very handy to get just the right amount of saturation, while the paint is still very wet.


And that’s that! The finished piece can be viewed here on Shadowness.

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