Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Watercolor with markers 1

I stamped Callie Christmas Kitty by High Hopes onto Canson 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper using Versafine Onyx black ink. I have found that those brands of paper and ink are the best for this application. I like to use Tombow pens, but any water based marker will work, even Crayola! Tombow pens are a very high quality marker pen with dual tips and I love using them.
I partially colored the branch with the brightest green leaving a lot of space for the ink to flow later. I always start with the lightest color and then add graduating deeper shades, saving the darkest for last. I also spread the ink one color at a time, letting each layer dry before applying the next.

Here I have begun to put puddles of clear clean water on the white of the paper just above the colored areas. Try not to get too close to the ink or it will bleed into it.

Now start moving the brush INTO the color, not the other way around, and try to go right to the edge of where you colored. Your brush will have some color in it now, so keep that in mind as you move it across the white paper. The ink will naturally bleed into where you put the water, and this is a good thing. This is what gives watercolor art its personality!
To color the lower branch, I cleaned my brush off first before spreading this ink around, so that the white areas would stay lighter.

Here I have colored the candy canes using the same principal, always pulling the water INTO the ink and going right to the edges. I used the smallest paintbrush for those tiny areas.
I also prepared to do the first layer on the cat with a light beige.

You can see where I have begun to put a puddle of water on the center of his tummy where the paper is still white. Again, work the brush into the colored areas and go right to the edges of the stamp design.

Time for some more layers of color on the branches. I picked up a slightly darker green marker and colored in the areas where I think it should show shading.

Now this time my brush is not wet, only damp. I keep a rag next to me when I watercolor; it comes in very handy. To get the brush to just the right dampness, I dip it in the clean water, then swipe it across the rag a few times. This might cause the bristles to separate just a bit. When you see that, you know its just damp and therefore, just right to use! You can see how the brush has a lot of color in it, and that is ok. I brushed it lightly on the branches in the direction that the needles would go, in random strokes! You don't have to be really careful when using this technique, which is what I love about it. It isn't about perfection. In fact, the little imperfections is what gives the painting its unique and interesting personality!

I have let that layer dry so now I am applying the deepest darkest shade of green, to give it that added dimension. It doesn't take long for the layers to dry when your brush is only damp. It probably took all of two minutes! While I was waiting for it to dry, I used two more shades of red, a dark red and a deep wine color, and added them to the candy canes, following the same principles as I have been showing, using a slightly damp brush to blend, and working from the lightest highlighted areas into the darkest outer edges.

Again, spread the ink with very little water on the brush. This is very important, because if your brush is very wet, you will get backwash. Backwash is when the ink travels in the water puddle on the surface of the paper, and graduates to the outside edges of it, leaving a visible ring of color on your painting. A brush that is too wet at this point will also remove a lot of the color you took your time to apply. So be careful! Damp brush only when layering colors!!

I was not entirely happy with how my dark layer turned out, and so I took the brightest green that I had used on my first layer and went over it again. Its ok to do that. Water coloring is very experimental, and you can often fix mistakes or things you don't like, just by adding colors from the same family on top of one another. As long as you aren't over stressing the surface of the paper. This paper stands up to a lot of punishment! Continued on the post below:


  1. Thank you. I'm "watercolor challenged" and need all the advice I can get. I always love how your images are colored!

  2. Fabulous tutorial and gorgeous card! Thanks so much for taking the time to do the tutorial. Your work is so inpsiring!

    Hugs, Christine :)

  3. Oh Heidi always told me that you taught her how to do I can give it a try...wonderful tutorial! TFS

  4. Thanks so much for the tutorial, I was wondering how you ladies colour these images in!