Wet on Wet Watercolor Technique

We will now look at the wet on wet watercolor painting technique.

A good exercise to understand the potential of using wet on wet techniques is to mix a milk strength mixture of French Ultramarine and Alizarin Crimson. Then tape a quarter sheet of rough textured watercolor paper to your board. Then with a round brush, about a size 16, and your board titled to about 25 degrees, wet the sheet down one side. Use lots of water so there is a shine on the paper.

Wet on wet watercolor painting technique

Wet on wet watercolor painting technique
Figure 1: Wet on wet watercolor painting technique

Now straight away pick up a brush of the pre-mixed watercolor and paint a wide strip across the top of the wet part of the paper about 2 inches from the top. The watercolor immediately starts to run down the page.

Now as you watch this you will notice a number of things. First, the water above the brush stroke you placed on the wet portion of the paper, flows down and gives you a very light soft (indistinct) edge as it washes the watercolor down from the point it was first placed. Secondly you will notice that the watercolor continues to flow and change shape as you watch it, in this way you are letting the watercolor help you paint your painting. Once it creates the particular shape you are after (i.e. when it has flowed far enough down your watercolor paper) you can lay the board down flat and it will stop flowing. Thirdly you should be able to notice that instead of just a single color appearing on the paper, as you had mixed it, the pigments have separated in parts. The French Ultramarine being more of a particle based watercolor will not flow as far as the Alizarin Crimson, which is more like a dye. So now you will see that the top part of this shape is slightly bluer than the bottom.

This type of soft wet on wet or wet in wet edge is very good for giving the impression of rain, soft sunset clouds, and any other effect requiring indistinct shape transitions.

Now obviously there are a number of factors which affect the result you will create with wet on wet techniques. Firstly how wet you wet the paper, secondly the angle of your board – the steeper the angle the quicker and further the watercolor paint will flow, thirdly how thick a mixture you mix with your paint – the more watery it is the further it will flow but also the lighter will be your result, and fourthly how much paint is on your brush.

From practice and observation you will be able to better predict the general outcome of wet on wet techniques.

Continue to: Controlled Wet on Wet watercolor Technique

Watercolor techniques: edges created with a round brush

What is so important about edges?

As watercolor artists, and artists in general, we paint our paintings through the creation of different edge shapes. In this article I will talk about the watercolor techniques that will produce these edges and how to use them to create our watercolor paintings. The examples I give are all made with a round watercolor brush but most can also be produced with other types of watercolor brushes with practice.

What are these edges that we talk about when watercolor painting and how do you produce them.

Venice Sunset lights completed watercolor painting
Venice Sunset watercolor painting

These edges are known by different names and one or two I will mention probably don’t have a name so I will try and give them one.  Here are some of their common terms: Wet on Wet or Wet in Wet, Wet on Dry, Dry Brush or Broken Edge. These are good general terms but also quite limiting so I will expand on a couple of them a little to show their true value to the water color artist.

I have found that watercolor paintings that appeal to me all seem to have the full variety of these edges. If you have a painting which only has sharp edges it can lack subtlety, if everything is made up of soft indistinct edges it can lack direction or a message so, as edges can be considered part of the vocabulary of watercolor painting, then the more edge variety the more rich will be our paintings.

So let us now look at each of these watercolor edge types in turn.

Continue to: Wet on Wet Watercolor Technique

Creating your own artist’s online portfolio website

Online Portfolio Websites

Gone are the days when you had to be a computer guru to create simple web sites, there are many useful sites online which show you “how to make a website”. Just Google that term and up they come. These sites either show you how to build a website or can direct you to others who do. There is a lot of freely available software on the web such as WordPress which allow you to build a site with website templates. This is a WordPress website. There are plenty of other free website maker sites on the world wide web that can help you build your online portfolio art gallery.

You still have to pay for the hosting and registration of your url (your website name) but the development of the site is much simpler with these web design packages.

Before you start creating a website use the internet to look for website ideas by looking at artistic websites which appeal to you. There is nothing wrong with this and it will help you quickly clarify what you would like in your own website.

If you still don’t see yourself as a website builder but would prefer to have someone else create a site for you then just search for “cheap websites” and you will find a whole bunch of people who offer low cost web site construction some of which you can then update yourself.

Now days it is relatively inexpensive to set up a web presence through your own web site.

Ideally your should have your own url such as my own This is something like your own home address on the internet and as its popularity develops it will become part of your brand as an artist and a very useful marketing tool.

If you do not want to go to the expense of creating a site or having one created for you, there are a number of other options to enable you to easily establish a web presence.

One such site is Redbubble; which allows you to promote your work on their site, mainly for sales as cards, prints and posters, etc.

After signing up with them (its free) you are able to very quickly and easily post your artwork on a page on their website and develop this to a full online portfolio, this is what mine looks like: Joe Cartwright on RedBubble. It is a very easy process and does not cost anything while offering the opportunity to sell some of your work. You are also able to use a site like Redbubble to communicate with and get feedback from other artists on the World Wide Web. Another similar website for artists is

Artist’s Blogs

Other free options are to create a blog with services like Google’s Blogger. These free services may not allow you to create award winning websites but they can still create some quite impressive ones very quickly. Give them a go as they are free and you have nothing to lose. They also provide you with the opportunity to trial what you can personally do with the internet before you go ahead and create a website with your own unique url. Blogs can be run in conjunction with your online artist’s portfolio web site as a blog allows you to communicate quickly with those interested in your artwork and activities. I have a Blogger blog if you would like to look at it at: Joe Cartwright’s Watercolor Blog.

I hope you found this article of some benefit. It was not designed to show you how to create a website; the internet is loaded with that information, but to give you an idea of some of the potential benefits as an artist of having one.

Websites for Artists

The benefits of websites for artists

Websites for artists provide a number of useful benefits:

  • They give you a quick convenient way to set up an online art gallery.
  • With your own website you can be in total control as to what to put on it and how your work and content is to be displayed.
  • You can create a professional looking online portfolio. Online portfolios can be used to showcase your work to potential real world art galleries, also for exhibitions which are by invitation only, you can often refer them to your site rather than have to put together a full proposal requesting an invitation to exhibit.
  • Online portfolio websites allow you the ability to offer paintings for sale.
  • You can set them up to sell your paintings directly from your site or you can provide a contact form for potential customers to discuss a purchase or a viewing of your artwork – which could hopefully lead to purchase.
  • For commissions I often refer clients to my website to get an idea of the type of painting they are after. This makes the process of producing a painting that they will be happy with much easier.
  • Your artwork can be online, and hence being seen the viewing public, almost as soon as it is completed.
  • You can continue to show work, long after it is removed from a gallery. You decide when to stop displaying it.
  • Effective websites for artists allow you to promote your upcoming exhibitions and events.
  • People can also remain in contact with you through opt in mailing lists; this can help to reduce postage costs and virtually pay for your site in postage savings alone.
  • Websites present your work to the whole world. With payments services like PayPal it is now very easy to get paid, from virtually any country, if someone purchases your watercolor painting or other artwork over the internet. If sales are a bit slow in your country it does not mean they have to be slow in other countries. As people become more and more comfortable with purchasing online, these types of sales will continue to increase.
  • By creating a website you can offer other services to potential clients. I run regular watercolor painting classes and watercolor workshops, these are promoted on separate pages of my online gallery website and a significant proportion of my new students come from this channel.

Continue to: Creating your own artist’s online portfolio website

Color of shadows and reflections

Color of shadows and reflections

Another major difference between the color of shadows and reflections is that a reflection usually contains a lot of color, mainly coming from the object that is being reflected e.g. the side of a boat. This reflected color will be influenced by the color of the water doing the reflecting.

Can you also see how the reflection of the lit side of the boat is darker than the actual side  which is being reflected whereas the reflection of the side in shade (the left hand side) is a little bit lighter than what it is reflecting. This is caused by the fact that reflections of an object combine with the local color of the water that is doing the reflecting.

Boat and Building Reflections Cornwall
Figure 8: Reflections of boats and buildings showing color

Shadows however primarily have the local color of the object upon which the shadow is thrown e.g. the sand, wall, ground, water, etc. This can be seen in figure 9.

Color of shadows made up of local colors
Figure 9: The color of shadows is made up of local colors

The color of shadows is also influenced by reflected light which can add to the local color of the shadow area.

Reflected color of shadows. Many colors of reflected light on sand
Figure 10: Reflected color in shadows

Can you see how the shadow on the sand is primarily a dark version of the sand color i.e. color of sand with less light on it. However there is also a very strong reflected light from the beach huts within the shadow areas. These reflected lights are very important to make you shadows more real and interesting.

I hope this article has been of use to you. It by no means covers the topics of reflections and shadows exhaustively but was meant to highlight some points I have often found people have difficulty with.