'It is important to master techniques but equally important not to allow a particular technique to become a signature of your work – exploration of the subject should not become secondary to the 'look' of the painting,' says Nick Poullis.
Here is a basic range of techniques that are fairly simple to execute:

1. The wash

Using a large brush, work from top to bottom, drawing the paint down the paper with each stroke.

Make sure the surface you are working on slopes slightly.

Washes are used all the time in watercolour and so it is useful to be able to control them.

With practice it is possible to merge colours and cover large areas.

I have found it best to let large areas of wash dry naturally, and not to leave large puddles at the bottom of a wash that can 'tree'.

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2. Wet-in-wet

This is more easily controlled in a small area of paint.

Colour can be dropped into an area of wash, where it will diffuse to different degrees.

It depends on how wet the area is when you drop in the colour and how invasive the pigment is – all pigments diffuse differently.

3. Wet on dry

Layering watercolour will allow undercoats to show through subsequent layers.

To avoid nasty marks it is vital that you allow the under layer to dry completely before adding subsequent layers.

4. Dry brush

The side of a flicked-out brush will enable you to paint the top of the tooth on the paper surface, thus creating a useful texture that can be used in the expression of, for example, foliage.

Dry brushing is much more effective on paper with a tooth, such as Fabriano Artistico 140lb (300gsm) Rough surface.


5. Lifting out

This is best done on small areas at a time.

Simply paint water on to a dry painted surface and lift off straight away with something absorbent, such as tissue paper.

Pigments that work by staining the paper will be harder to lift out, whereas other pigments will lift easily.

6. Working from light to dark

A basic rule of watercolour is that it is usually best to work from light to dark, which enables an effective use of underpainting.

Some subjects will require little or no underpainting; this will depend on what you wish to show about the subject.

I find it best to limit the number of layers of paint to two when using wet on dry or underpainting as this will help achieve maximum luminosity.


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