Sunday, December 4, 2011

Painting Watercolor on Canvas

QUESTION: Can you paint watercolor on canvas? Any special preparation or tips?
Thanks! Kathy, Duluth, MN
Susie's Reply: In a word...YES! And you guessed correctly, raw canvas does need to be treated or preped for the watercolor to adhere to it without soaking into the canvas. Gesso is widely used as a ground applied to canvas to prep it for painting but regular gesso is non absorbent and doesn't work for watercolor. Daniel Smith developed a watercolor ground that makes it possible to paint with watercolor on almost any surface.
You'll find out more about this new product on the Daniel Smith website:

Just a little disclaimer: I don't work for Daniel Smith, I recommend their products because I believe in them and I am familiar with the products I recommend.

There is also a watercolor canvas made especially for watercolor by Fredrix. It's available in pads, stretched canvas, and mounted on watercolor boards. Most art suppliers carry this product.
I have experimented with painting on watercolor canvas and had fun trying new techniques. As I said it was fun, but not a suitable substitute for my signature style of painting. Try it you may like it!!!

Thanks for writing Kathy! Let me know how you like these products if you try them!

Watercolor Brush Question

QUESTION: Brush Question I just purchased your waves video in addition to Painting Sentimental Roses. I want to know exactly what brand and type of Daniel Smith round brushes you used in the painting waves demonstration. Thank you so much!  KW

I use the Daniel Smith Platinum Series 23 Multi-Media Synthetic Round # 10 and #8. Here is a link to the DS site.
They are very reasonability priced so I recommend getting two of each size (#10 and #8) They will last twice as long if you alternate using them.

To some artists it looks like I abuse my brushes...I prefer to say I make them work for me. I scrub and lift and splay the bristles to create textures. If the tip loses its point, these are cheap enough to replace it with a new one and use the worn brush for those rougher techniques.

I do have a couple of sets of brushes on my site for convenience but my supply is very limited. I package my favorites for my students so they can order them when they order the DVDs.
I do mark them up slightly since I don't get much of a discount from DS. You probably get a better price per brush by ordering from DS directly.
Thanks for asking!
Happy Painting!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Setting up a new watercolor palette

QUESTION: Susie, I have read your tips on setting out the watercolors in my brand new palette. I will follow the ideas of using the colorwheel to fill the wells (84) with empty wells in between to fill as new colors are added. Do I add glycerin and water to the colors as I put them in the palette wells? Do I empty the colors straight from the tubes into the palette? The palette has a cover, so that will help to keep the colors dust-free. Thank you for your help. I look forward to your advice. JHY

Susie's Reply:
Thanks for writing! Before you squeeze out any paint check the tube to see if the paint has settled and separated. The binder in watercolors is gum arabic and it is clear gooey stuff that sometimes rises to the top of the tube if the tube has been setting for a while. You may need to kneed the tube or turn the tube upside down for 24 hours to let the pigments re-mingle with the binder.
When setting up the new palette squeeze the paint directly from the tube into the wells. You do not need to add anything to the paint. Some colors will be wetter than other colors naturally.
I have better luck when I fill the well about half full then stir the paint with a toothpick to evenly distribute it and make sure all the tiny air bubbles pop and the gum arabic is mixed in well. Allow it to dry then add more paint to fill the well. Stir to mix and level off the paint in each well. Leave the cover off to speed up the drying time. Dry it completely before using it if you have time.
When you are ready to paint, simply dampen the colors with your brush as you use them. Some colors will reconstitute easier than others.
DON’T spritz the whole palette with water to prepare your paint for painting. That will break them down and make the paint crumble.

84 wells will hold a lot of paint choices. Have fun!


PS. I forgot to add if your watercolor paint is a brand that contains honey it will not dry in the palette wells, it will always remain tacky and gooey. That type of paint is formulated to remain damp so it will not work for this suggested setup.