masking watercolor…

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i’ve been admiring a lot of beautiful watercolor art using dynamic bold colors on pinterest and other craft sites.  i’ve always been intimidated with watercolor b/c i lacked the skills to control my brushstrokes, the amount of water used, and the paint from pooling and smudging.  i often fantasized about painting that perfect piece where the image was decipherable!

so i did a bit of research to figure out what methods were being used to paint with more precision using watercolor.  that’s when i learned about the masking technique….and i am now obsessed.

masking is a technique used to maintain white areas in your watercolor painting.  there are masking fluid products on the market where you use brushes to apply it on the paper.  you can also use rubber cement (see here and here for techniques) even painter’s tape for the same effects.  *tip: use on thick watercolor paper for easy removal, otherwise you may damage your artwork in the process.

i took a trip to our local art store and purchased a small bottle of masking fluid, cheap brushes, watercolor paper, and a set of inexpensive watercolor paints.  masking fluid is not cheap, so i think i will definitely try the rubber cement method when i run out.

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using photoshop, i converted a photo of my daughter to create a contrast image of her face.  go to Image- Adjustments- Threshold.  use the slider to adjust to your liking.

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i taped my image onto a clear plastic storage bin cover and taped the watercolor paper on top of that.  use a lightbox to view the image under the paper.  i don’t have a light box so i leaned the bin against our back door and used the sunlight to view the photo underneath.  for another piece i did, i placed a table lamp down on the table and leaned the bin cover against the lamp. 

using a cheap brush i filled in all the white areas with the masking fluid.  the stuff dries fast and gets pretty gummy.  let dry completely. it took this piece about 10-15 minutes.

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paint over your piece with watercolor paint.  let dry completely.  watercolor dries fairly fast too but you want to make sure the entire piece is thoroughly dry, especially the paint over the masking fluid.  

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i used a clean finger and rubbed the edges of the fluid to start peeling it away from the piece.  this is the fun part.  it’s like peeling away a really good facial treatment.  

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voila! for my first time, i was pleasantly pleased with the results of my daughter.  there were areas that were not as clean so you definitely need to be ensure you have thorough coverage in those white areas with the masking fluid.         

check out these sites for techniques, tips, and more:

Art Painting Techniques: The Use of Masking Fluid 

12 Tips for using Masking Fluid in Watercolor Painting




3 responses to “masking watercolor…

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I had Masking Fluid in my hands and then put it back on the shelf. Now, I’m definitely going to have give it a try. Yours came out beautiful.

  2. thanks! the masking fluid i purchased was pricey. so buy a small bottle to experiment with…or try the rubber cement method. they say to thin the rubber cement with a little bit of nail polish remover for easier application. try it!!!

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