Watercolor Textures are building blocks for many of my Mixed Media and Digital Art pieces. I’ve shared in the past a little bit about color textures when I shared my cherry blossom collage art. I have mentioned them numerous times. I discussed watercolor textures when I wrote about my digital quilt cards. And when I wrote about watercolor washes, I laid the groundwork for this blog. I also walked you through a project in Exploring Art in Isolation and introduced you to a few of my techniques on how to create watercolor texture.
Why am I writing about them again? Simple, because they are a part of my creative process which is an ongoing theme this season and I wanted to go a little deeper into the subject. In sharing about watercolor textures, I am also able to share more of my watercolor techniques so you will be able to explore them too, if you wish.
What I use Watercolor Texture Pages For
Watercolor textures are important to me because I use them to create art including paper collages, doodle art, and digital pieces. Behind the scenes I uses them as exercises to explore color and color combinations. I use the exercises to overcome creative block, reusing discarded pieces of art and paper I have trimmed off my watercolor sheets. I learn so much from creating my texture pages.
My watercolor textures are used in my notecard creations, not just in my quilt designs, but to add accents and borders to my traditional watercolor paintings. I create and scan the textures and store them inside a folder where I design the cards and notecards that I sell.
The Watercolor Texture Exercise
Over the past few weeks, I experimented with different techniques as I layered the washes in the samples I am going to share. I am going to walk you through the exercises I did as I explored colors and texture to use in my brand. I am getting ready to make new business cards and refresh my website and all things Ruthieonart. As part of the refresh, I played with watercolor texture in order to come up with a look that expresses who I am and what I am trying to create in my business.
Watercolor textures and the art that comes from it are an expression of me as both a watercolor artist and a graphic designer. I think they are a perfect expression of my brand.
I started the exercises by choosing colors. The colors I am working with are from Daniel Smith Watercolors, my favorite brand. Deep rose along with a dark gray blue have been used in some of my website branding. To add some accent colors to my selection, I added a few colors that I like to use when I paint. Indigo was chosen for the blue and Payne’s Gray was added for a Dark Blue Gray. Rhondonite Genuine paint was chosen for the rose color. Cadmium Red was added for an orange-red accent and Quinacridone Red for a scarlet color. Yellow Ochre was added because I wanted a gold color. I will be using metallic gold paint in my designs, but I only used it sparingly in this exercise.
After selecting the six colors plus gold, I decided to start with six basic watercolor textures. After that I allowed myself to experiment as I went along. I cut thirty-six 7.5 x 5.5 watercolor sheet and taped them down on backing. I used student grade paper for this exercise. The textures are very successful without using expensive paper. And since I plan to cut them up to use in collages, I like all the paper to be the same.
One – A Flat Wash
The first exercise is a review from the piece I wrote on watercolor washes. My first Texture is a flat wash. A flat wash is executed by loading a large brush with a concentration of pigment and water to create the intensity of color you want. It is helpful to have enough of the mixture ready to apply to the area of your painting that you want covered.
This time I used a 14 Round brush because it holds a lot of the water paint mixture. I painted two layers. The first layer I painted horizontally on a 7.5 x 5.5 piece of watercolor paper. After letting it dry, I painted a second layer vertically on the page.
Each layer makes the saturation of the painting become darker, richer. I have done experiments to see what happens as I increase the layers painted on a sheet of paper. At some point the color intensity doesn’t really change, it doesn’t get any darker. Each color is different, and it depends on the transparency or opacity of the paint. I do this to understand the saturation point of each color. If I want a darker color, I may need to change colors as the paint only gets so dark.
Two – Water Spray
Into the second wash, i sprayed water using a spray bottle. Prime it first and then shoot one or two sprays of water onto the painting when it is shiny. A shiny watercolor is not soaking wet, but not dry. The water reacts nicely with at that point in the drying process.
Three – Alcohol Spray
Starting with a light wash and letting it dry, I added another wash and used alcohol spray on top of the wash when it became shiny. It is done exactly like the water spray, but you use rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Add the alcohol sparingly to the wash. The reaction takes a moment to happen. Too much spray produces a less interesting effect.
Four – Sponge
The fourth color texture was created by using a natural sponge. You can use any kind of sponge, but the natural sponge has a more pleasing organic look to it. Do not wet the paper, but wet and squeeze out the sponge. Make sure you have a lot of paint mixture. Use a piece of sponge that is no more than two inches in diameter. Dip it into the water paint mixture and pounce it on the paper. If the color is light, like Yellow Ochre, it helps to squeeze the sponge a bit while you touch the paper. Move around the paper until the texture is all over. Leave some space in-between your splotches.
Five – Saran Wrap
After a light wash is applied and dried I added another wash and placed a piece of plastic wrap on top to create texture. You do not have to wait until the painting gets shiny. Cover the entire sheet with plastic wrap and create wrinkles in the wrap by moving the plastic around. I love to create swirls. This time I experiment with creating long lines and plumes. Let the paint dry, then removed the wrap.
Six – Wax Paper
To create this texture use wax paper just like you used the plastic wrap. Because the wax paper is stiffer, you will need to crinkle then un-crinkle the wax paper first. This does two things; it softens the paper and creates wrinkles. Smooth the wax paper over the watercolor wash. Take it off when it is dry or when the wax paper releases itself from the paper. It will look like it is sitting on top of the paper unattached. Wax paper makes a nice crinkly texture, although it can’t be manipulated as much as the saran wrap.
Having finished the six-basic textures, I moved on to adding splatter.
At this point I have only used one color on each texture paper. Next, my experimentation consisted of layering other techniques on top of what I had already created. For this I used splatter. There are three kinds of spatter I used; fine, medium and spray.
One – Fine Splatter
Fine splatter is created with a toothbrush. This can be a little tricky. The technique should be practiced, and you may want to try several different sizes and stiffness of toothbrushes until you find the one that works best for you. It is wise to flick the loaded toothbrush a few times before you start applying paint over the paper to avoid blobs of paint on your work. Load the brush with paint and use your finger to flick the bristles, flinging paint softly across your work in fine sprays.
Two – Medium Splatter
Using a loaded size 8 Round paint brush I created medium splatters on my texture pages by tapping a loaded brush against the handle of another paintbrush. You might want to practice on a scrap piece of paper first, especially when you’re adding a splatter texture to a finished painting. I often tap it a few times before I go over the painting. This is because when a brush is first loaded it more likely to create blobs of paint. You probably don’t want them to land on your painting.
Three – Spray Bottle
Next, I carefully adding texture to my pages by using a spray bottle of paint mixture using Payne’s Gray and Burnt Sienna. This fine layer of spray subtly changed the color of the first wash and added textures. I used the gray spray on the Payne’s Gray and Indigo textures and made their colors darker. When I used the gray spray on the Rhondonite Genuine (rose color), it turned it a beautiful dusty rose. I used Burnt Sienna on the warm colors; Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, and Quinacridone Red and it gave them a warmer hue.
On other texture examples I added different colors of the fine and medium splatters, sometimes two colors, sometimes three colors.
Try it Yourself
These are just a few of the variations and combinations of ways you can create texture. I have kept it very simple by using only one color for the most part until the end when I did change up a bit for splatter. The effects I created are very subtle. To make your watercolor texture more dramatic use two to three colors in your process. I mixed up the types of splatter I used to create more variations, for example, by putting a spray on top of a splatter.
Have fun and remember I always think that I know how something is going to turn out, but watercolor has a mind of its own and it’s always different. It is always a surprise. That’s one reason I love it so much.
Next time I write about watercolor texture, I want to share more about what I discovered and how I used the watercolor textures I created in this project.
Staring in April I will be changing The Blog schedule up a bit. I plan to publish two blogs a month, except occasionally when something special is taking place like an art show or a release of a new collection, I may write more.
If you sign-up for my weekly newsletter I will continue to send along The Blog one week and Biz News the next. You will be the first to know when I am planning to release new work and I will grant you first access to my art before it is up in the shop. You will receive the calendar and another downloadable gift sometime during the month. The exciting news is that I plan to enter several art shows this year and because you receive the newsletter, I will be sharing all of this with you in depth.
Now that the world is opening up a bit again, I will be busier, and the new schedule reflects that.
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Thank you for you interest in my art and all things creative. And as always, Be Inspired! Ruth