WATERCOLOR – Backgrounds Using Mask Demo
There are many ways to do similar things with watercolor you can either paint around something and go by sections or you can use masking fluid so you can do it all at once, you need to try both to see which one you like because they both have their places and I do go back and forth depending on what I'm trying to accomplish.
When I need to get a soft, "out of focus" background often times I will use masking fluid to protect the subject and any area that is in the foreground, then I can wet the background and work without worrying about painting around something. This is also particularly handy when you have a lot small detail you want to avoid.
First I started with my drawing. I like to draw to scale. What that means is I like to have my drawing the same size as I'm going to paint so that it makes transferring easier. To get the right size for my watercolor paper, I use a mat that I can buy anywhere and mark out the inside dimension on my paper so I know how big I need to make my subject. I work on drawing paper or tracing paper because I can make my mistakes on there then I don't have to worry about hurting my watercolor paper's surface with erasing.
When I have my drawing the way I want it, I use a black felt pen to go over all my lines, then I can either use graphite paper or rub pencil on the back of the drawing as sort of a poor man's graphite paper or as I did in this case, I taped it to my back sliding glass door then tapped my watercolor paper of it in lieu of a light table (another option) and with a #2B pencil, I went over my lines also marking the corners of the matt dimensions.
After I have my drawing on my watercolor paper, I tape it down to my support using the matt corners as my guide, I tape just outside the corners so my painting area is large enough that when I go to matt the painting I won't have any white edges showing.
I then get out my masking fluid and mask my ENTIRE drawing. When you use the masking fluid it is best if you use an old brush or a cheap brush, have an old bar of soap or liquid soap handy and soap up the bristles wiping any excess off before dipping into the masking fluid. A couple do's and don'ts when it comes to the masking: DO NOT SHAKE IT! Even if you want to use one with a colorant in it you want to gently turn up and down to mix the color. When you shake it you create foam that won't go away for hours and if you use it on your paper the bubbles will break leaving your paper exposed and you will get paint where you don't want it. It also introduces oxygen into the fluid and will cause it to cure so when you go back to use it all you have is a chunk of rubber in the bottle.
Do not leave it in a warm area or where the sun will hit it or you will have a chunk or rubber. When not in use, keep the lid tightly closed or again, you will have a chunk of rubber. Rinse and re-soap your brush often – about every minute or so – to keep the fluid from curing in your brush creating a little chunk of rubber on the end of your brush. Clean your brush well after using and even a cheap brush will last a long time.
When you apply the fluid be sure that you put enough on, don't try to spread it out so thin that you end up with gaps and be sure that you paper is dry before you put it on (you can use masking fluid in between washes as long as the paper is dry first) then let it dry completely before you start to paint, about 20 – 30 minutes generally. I let my mask dry naturally IF you use a hair drier be sure that you use one that has a low heat setting and hold it back at least a foot or more. If the masking gets hot it could melt into your paper and will tear the paper when you go to remove it.
Once the masking is dry you and paint and wet the paper to your hearts content. What you do is going to be influenced by what you are painting so be sure that you have your reference photo handy so you can decide what colors need to go where. If you need to, you can do another layer before you take off the masking just be sure that when you do take the masking off that the paper is totally dry. If you have lots of little spaces between the areas of masking, the water and paint can pool up there and make the paper wetter than other parts of the paper so it is better to be safe than sorry and leave it for an hour or more even over night if you can wait that long or use a hair drier (see above caution) because if the paper is wet and you try to remove the mask, you can tear the paper. If you are using a soft surface paper be extra careful, always rub into the mask not out towards the painted area. Sometimes you can get it started and it will just pull off but you may need to get a rubber cement pickup or you can turn tape so the sticky side is out to save your poor fingers from being rubbed raw.
This technique is very useful and can save a lot of time but you do need to plan ahead and once you have the mask on you want to work quickly so you can remove it as soon as possible. I have left it on my paper for a month with no problems, I made sure it was in a cool dry place but to be safe you want to get it off within a couple of weeks at most, don't think you can come back 6 months from now and be able to remove it because it will become part of the paper and will not come up.
I will think of something else to demo for next week, I hope to see you all soon.