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【5 Watercolor Mistakes】And How To Avoid Them

【5 Watercolor Mistakes】And How To Avoid Them
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    It is often said about watercolor that it doesn't forgive mistakes.
    I don't necessarily agree with that statement, but you still want to achieve good results
    from the beginning, something you can continue working on.
    Otherwise you quickly end up with a painting like this, where there are patchy watercolor
    edges, the colors bleed uncontrollably, and everything just looks like a muddy mess.
    So in this video I am going to show you five common watercolor mistakes and how you can
    overcome them.
    While often you still have at least some room to patch flaws with pencils or gouache, (as
    you can see me struggle to improve what I can right here) fixing mistakes is only possible
    to a certain degree.
    Keeping the highlights may be one of the hardest parts about watercolor and rushing your work
    can become an obstacle that quickly makes your work unfixable.
    So planning your work and thinking about your approach is a tip that goes with and beyond
    any mistake that I am going to talk about now.
    Starting too dark
    Using too dark colors in the beginning of your painting can easily happen if you just
    rush and go in with no real idea of what you want to do.
    While with your first strokes it might look like the beginning of a good oil or acrylic
    painting, it will become a problem throughout the process.
    Because unlike with oils, when you start a watercolor painting with too dark colors,
    those get reactivated with new washes of water and that can taint or even fully ruin your
    highlights, because they bleed into them.
    This often forces you to go even deeper with the shadow tones to adjust to the darker highlights.
    And step by step you end up with a painting that not only has muddy colors but also weak
    and foggy values.
    So a lot of you have heard about the rule, that with watercolor you are only able to
    work from light to dark, but what does this actually mean?
    Well, when it comes to deciding where to start on a piece, this is the rule to keep in mind.
    Not only does it apply to the coloring and shading of specific areas, but also to where
    to start putting your colors in the first place.
    So from the start, think about which parts of your painting are going to be darker and
    which are going to be lighter and apply the lighter first.
    This rule not only helps with the question of how to start, but also when figuring out
    a composition and focus points in general.
    Let's take this diagram as an example.
    Here you can see the dark area in front of a lighter background creating depth even though
    we are only working with a few shapes.
    Now as a watercolor artist that would color this motive, this helps you to figure out
    how to start, which as I said, would be to color the lighter part first and the darker
    ones after that, so you have the option of overpainting the lighter parts.
    For a face for example, that would mean to paint dark details like the eyelashes, nostrils
    and anything that is in shadows only after the lighter parts are already done.
    But as always, this is more of a guideline rather than a fixed rule.
    Painting portraits often is a bit more complicated than a simple diagram and you have to combine
    darker and lighter washes in order for everything to blend and look consistent.
    Too many colors.
    When picking your colors, I'm the last person to say you should limit yourself only to a
    few pigments.
    There are some purists that love philosophizing about how you should at maximum have 3 different
    pigments in a wash of color.
    Therefore, you should only use paints that contain one kind of pigment rather than those
    premixed convenience paints because if you don't, your paintings will get muddy and
    it screws your mixing skills, ruins your style, you will fail as an artist, nobody likes you,
    you will never be good at painting and it's just better to lay down and cry....
    Well no, we are not going to let that happen.
    You can use and buy any color you like.
    Single pigmented colors are great if you want to keep an eye on your budget or want to improve
    your mixing skills.
    But sometimes it's helpful to have a shortcut to a variety of consistent tones available
    without having to mix them from scratch.
    Over the years I have gathered quite a few tones because I just can't hold back when
    shopping art supplies every once in a while.
    And so far I have never had a problem with having to many mixed pigments on my paper.
    But the aspect that actually can be a problem is a thoughtless color scheme.
    With many colors in your palette, it is quite tempting to just dig in and use any color
    that meets your eye.
    You might just think "Huh, I haven't used this one in a while, I wonder what this looks
    like" and boom, you messed up.
    So the important thing to keep in mind is this:
    Just because you own a variety of colors doesn't mean you have to use them with all your paintings
    all the time.
    Stick to certain color schemes.
    If you are unsure what colors you want to use, you can work with color gamuts that limit
    your palette from the get go.
    Or be inspired by references.
    May there be photos, paintings and other artwork that you like colorwise.
    Do limited color challenges.
    With practice and an open eye you will develop visual habits that help you decide where you
    want to go with your artwork.
    Blending colors
    When it comes to creating smooth gradients and blends between colors there is a typical
    mistake that appears.
    The colors by themselves look beautiful on paper, but as soon as more colors come into
    play they all end up looking muddy and don't glow as much as they did when they were used
    To a certain aspect, this is a matter of color theory.
    You'll want to use different tones that harmonize and support each other.
    But sometimes, even tones that should work well together just end up being one blend
    of a muddy color.
    This usually happens when you overwork your wash of color.
    The mistake is to go in and just smudge the paints.
    The pigments will mix together instead of creating a gradient where each color is able
    to shine.
    So when painting gradients where two or more colors mix, you don't want to actually mix
    Instead you let them fade into each other.
    Of course you want this to happen in a controlled way to prevent watercolor edges.
    So go in with a brush, carefully pull and push the pigments to your liking, depending
    on the piece and art style you are going for of course.
    If you feel insecure, you can also work with monochromatic gradients and layer them.
    For that, work with one of your colors first, let it dry completely, wet it again and add
    your new tone coming from the other side.
    Splitting the process into two steps makes it a little safer.
    Being impatient
    If you are in the process of coloring, you sometimes - or even often - might come across
    the situation that the pigment you had already laid down just got fully washed away by the
    next wash of water.
    The outcome is, that previously perfect results got swiped away with a few brushstrokes, leaving
    behind patchy mess or even holes of clean white paper .
    That doesn't have to happen!
    All you have to do is wait.
    The pigment actually sets into the paper once it has dried down completely.
    It can still be reactivated by water to a certain degree, but it doesn't rip off your
    whole result when you add a wash of color after your painting had completely dried.
    When it comes to layering, being too impatient is a common mistake that I also fall for,
    but the solution is to know when to let the painting dry.
    To explain this is a bit difficult, actually.
    Let's take this painting for example.
    I put down a first layer of color and only lightly apply the tones.
    Working on the wet surface allows me to spread the pigments evenly, but only within a certain
    time frame.
    The longer you work on that area the more you will notice that the layer of water you
    had put down earlier has dried with time.
    That means the colors don't flow as much as when you started working on this area,
    because there isn't as much water left on the paper.
    The paper isn't shiny and soaked anymore from the water, but it is damp.
    You might think that the solution would be to immediately wet the whole thing again to
    add more soft color gradients, but since the paper is neither wet enough nor really dry,
    the color in that area hasn't yet had a chance to connect with the paper and settle.
    So adding another wash of water with the intention of making the colors flow, inevitably lifts
    of the color you had already worked so hard on.
    The solution is simple: You'll have to wait for that whole area to dry first.
    And I mean really dry.
    Only then can you finally, carefully rewet it and add your next layer.
    Sometimes you are working on neighboring areas that ought to be separate.
    To prevent unintentional bleeding from one into the other it's mandatory to give colors
    the necessary time to dry.
    Using the wrong brushes
    When you color larger areas, it might happen that you end up with uneven or splotchy color.
    The reason for that could be that you are using a brush that isn't suited for your
    As you might already know, with different brushes come different properties.
    And it's not only about the size of your brush.
    For years I have been using synthetic brushes simply because they were the cheapest available.
    Other than that I never really cared about what kind I used.
    And this worked out for me because I rarely painted larger paintings.
    But as soon as I tried to fill larger spaces with color, it became a bit of a struggle.
    For occasions like these you might want to do more than just switching the size of your
    Brushes with natural hair are usually able to absorb more water.
    That means you can add water to your painting more quickly and easily and that is really
    helpful, specifically for larger paintings, where you don't want parts of your paper
    to dry while you are still in the process of wetting it.
    But of course, for tiny delicate areas, this type of brush with its larger water storage
    can be quite uncontrollable, so then you want to go back to a synthetic brush.
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    Thank you very much for watching and I hope to see you next time.
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