Sunday, February 10, 2013

Three Ways to Save Whites when Watercolor Sketching

Daily Sketch "Apple"

Pencil, Sharpie Pen, Koi Watercolors

Today at my "Impressions of the Gardens" class, which is through

the Colorado Free University and held at the Denver Botanic Gardens,

we talked about "saving whites" and observing light and shadow

related to the object being sketched.  By saving whites I mean making
sure that highlights in the object are preserved or saved when the
object is colored in order to give your painting more sparkle and realism.

I had them draw their pears or apples in pencil, ink their drawings when satisfied,
then erase the pencil.  I also had them sketch in the highlights and shadow(s)
underneath and make penciled in notes of the main areas of dark and light.  

We used techniques to "save whites" in three ways
  1. Noting areas of light and making light pencil marks to indicate them
  2. Using masking fluid (I really like the fine line Masquepen)
  3. Using a stiffer brush to gently "lift" color after the paint is dry or
    while it is still wet.
I think that most readers will understand about taking care to not paint
highlighted areas so I will not discuss number 1.  Number two, the 
use of masking fluid, is probably also familiar, but I think that many
have yet to discover Masquepen.  Unlike usual masking fluid that is hard
to control and can ruin your brushes, the Masquepen is a fine tip bottle
that allows you to accurately place masking fluid where you want to 
protect areas from further layers of paint.  Once the masking fluid is
dry you can add more layers, let the layers dry, then rub off with your
finger or a rubber cement eraser.

The third method is a bit of magic that proves that watercolor is easier to
manage than is believed.  Using a slightly stiff damp brush gently rub
on the area where you want to lift color.  Blot the damped area with a
cloth or paper towel.  Magically, with most colors (except the most 
staining) the color will lift.

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