Tips For Fredrix Watercolor Canvas

Cheap Joe's Artist Tip: Tips for Watercolor Canvas

By Tom Lynch - Featuring Fredrix Watercolor Canvas

Variety of EdgesVariety of Edges!

One of the first things I noticed in painting on Fredrix Watercolor Canvas was that I could achieve many different kinds of edges than on paper. In the example, the same scene was painted but the second time I wanted to achieve a more muted, unified "look" between sections. This variety of edges is especially exciting for me, as it gives the viewer more excitement and me a more "abstract" connected look to the scene. To achieve this look, I painted the dark foreground layer first (forest). After it dried, I then painted the mid value lighter layer (mountains). And with a careful soft touch (using a natural-hair brush), I brought the lighter value over the dark. Then, after all was dry, I painted the sky, again using a soft touch to pull a light color over dark. The pressure you exert and/or the number of repeated brush strokes effect the edge from hard to soft, muted, lost, found or even, as you see in the trees to the far left, washed away. You can always re-introduce a hard edge again later, but this variety in some paintings is pure - "artistic."

Pure Paint HighlightsPure Paint Hightlights!

This technique will probably startle most watercolorists, but I encourage you to try taking pure paint right out of the tube to capture a 3-dimensional look to your finished paintings. I have always admired oil painters that captured a highlight and a shadow with one stroke of the brush. The falling leaves, some areas of the foliage and the cascading water highlights in the example were all created with pure paint, applied thickly. Once you try this, hold your painting under strong overhead light and enjoy an exciting new look in your watercolor paintings. I look to myself and my collectors for acceptance and accolades for my art, and I can tell you that this new look for watercolor is being enthusiastically accepted and encouraged. I am not waiting for something to become popular before I will try and/or embrace it. Watercolor canvas is here to stay and I encourage you to try your favorite way of painting along with some new techniques. As I tell my students, if you don't explore and experiment with new ways of seeing, interpreting and painting, you and your art will never grow. I view my art and career as a journey, not a destination.

Bright Color Over DarkBright Color Over Dark!

This technique is one of my new favorite watercolor canvas techniques. I can re-introduce rich color later in the painting process, change my mind and/or showcase bright color over dark. Take a look at several areas in the example. Light orange leaves in front of dark, a color change for the building and again colorful highlights for the barn boards. All color sets up better on canvas than on paper. They appear cleaner and brighter, and now watercolorists can do what oil painters have always done. I have never advocated a purist or restrictive approach to watercolor painting, and if painting light color over dark goes against an archaic rule, I say look at the end result and don't let anything hold you back from great art.

Hard EdgesHard Edges!

If you prefer the look of crisp, hard edges in your paintings, Fredrix Watercolor Canvas will please you as much, if not more, than paper. In the example, I wanted to showcase a clean, clear, crisp, hard edge view of the mountains. To achieve this look, I started with the lightest value (sky). After it dried, I then painted the dark foreground layer (forest). This process, as you can see, has a consistent hard edge "look" throughout.




Watermarks or blossoms have always been an integral park of the "look" of watercolor. I have learned over the years to employ this technique whenever I wish to show texture, leaves, waves, etc. I was pleased to find that they work quite well on watercolor canvas. And for those who try to avoid watermarks, you will be pleased to find that they can be easily removed on watercolor canvas. Simply subdue the watermark before or after the color dries.



I don't in my personal work do a lot of glazing (putting coats of wet color over dry); however, one technique that I often used on paper was to paint the sky last, as was done in the example. In order to achieve the desired look, I painted the mountains first, applied a coat of acrylic matte finish spray to the dry color, and after the acrylic spray dried (using a hairdryer is OK), I then painted the sky color directly over the mountain, tree and mist of the foreground. This technique creates a unity in the painting. Now, after the spray coating, you can easily put one color over another without the fear of wiping away your previous effort.

Wet into WetWet into Wet!

The technique of dropping or brushing wet color into wet color works better on canvas than it does on paper, because the moisture does not absorb into the surface, thus allowing a longer period of time to adjust and modify your brushstrokes. In the example, the surface was pre-wet with clear water using a wet brush or sponge. Then, with a brush load of darker color, I painted the layers in the sky, ground and distant trees. With the roof, fence and tree painted last.


Wet Into Wet LiftingWet into Wet Lifting!

Removing wet or dry color from the painting surface is one of the features that made me to embrace watercolor canvas. Wet color does not absorb into canvas like it does on paper, so blotting and lifting techniques are much easier. I created the cloud in the example by blotting with a Kleenex tissue and I used a brush to lift off the wet color in another area.





Liquid FriskitLiquid Friskit!

All your favorite types of frisket, frisket film and even masking tape will work on watercolor canvas as it does on paper. As you can see in the example, I used different brands of frisket and even masking tape to keep the clean white canvas protected from the color. Be sure to burnish the edges of the masking tape to the canvas. The highlights of fine, white branches were achieved using a blade after the color was dry. Canvas is more durable than paper and will not tear when using a razor blade to create highlights.

Synthetic vs. Natural Bristle
Synthetic vs. Natural Bristle!

Synthetic fiber brushes never absorb and hold as much paint as natural-hair brushes. Using synthetic brushes will cause what limited pigment is on the brush tip to "skip" across the surface (as demonstrated in the first example). The finest hair for a brush is Kolinsky sable. But any natural hair is OK - pony, ox, weasel or squirrel will all absorb more paint and fluid from the palette and transfer that bold wet wash to the canvas. Equally important, your second wash (wet over dry) has to be an especially soft touch with a wet, loaded brush. If you brush one color over another, use a heavy hand, repetitive brush strokes or a synthetic brush, you take the chance of softening, re-wetting or removing the first wash.

Favorite TechniquesFavorite Techniques!

I have yet to find any techniques that were used on paper that could not be done on Fredrix Watercolor canvas. The techniques that I first experimented with (after lifting color) were spray bottle, splatter and sponge. The tree you see in the example was created using all three of these techniques.





Leaving WhitesLeaving Whites!

Fredrix watercolor canvas has a brilliant white surface that, like paper, works exceptionally well when you leave the white surface for highlights, snow, skies and other white objects.







Tips By Tom Lynch - Featuring Fredrix Watercolor Canvas

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