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Floating Watercolors

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Floating Watercolors

Barbara Nechis demonstrates how she keeps her work fresh and unpredictable by floating watercolors into clear water

I developed this method as a result of observing the sometimes fluid interconnection of forms in nature. I apply it in combination with other methods -- as an initial layer, on top of an underpainting, or as part of a many-layered painting. The process is undetectable in the finished painting, so it won't camouflage an artist's personal style. Complete control is not possible, and the occasional spills force creative solutions! Colors merge in differing proportions, ensuring that no two paintings will be alike.

This technique is useful for quickly laying in subject matter on location, linking forms for better design and building up simple layers into complex paintings. It works well with all sorts of subjects such as trees, figures, cities, flowers and abstract shapes.

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1. Load the brush with water and draw a shape, making sure that it is continuous and touches at least one edge of the paper. Fill in the entire shape with water and use as much water as this "trough" will hold without spilling out. Next, drop transparent pigments onto the water surface. With this technique, I paint a continuous group of shapes with a brush loaded with clear water, then touch the water surface with a brush filled with transparent pigment. By carefully tipping the paper back and forth before pouring off the excess liquid, I can depict my subject with clean color mixes.

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2. Tip the paper to allow paints to merge. Refine shapes and pour off excess water. Be sure to extend the water and pigment into pleasing, useful rather than arbitrary forms before dumping the excess liquid.





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3. Dry the paper and watercolors thoroughly, and then begin to build subsequent layers on the painting or complete the painting using your own unique and artistic techniques.

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