Pouring Watercolor

I've been experimenting with pouring watercolor lately.  I've tried several techniques with varying success - this first example of a river running through a rocky mountainous area was done on a sheet that I had poured for a different subject - but the colors were too bright and not really in the correct areas for the original subject.  So, the sheet sat around my studio for a couple of weeks before I noticed that there was a fairly light area in about the same place that the river would run.  I had intended to keep the poured colors a bit more intact but got carried away and inserted a lot of green local color for the trees (sigh . . . overworked again!).  Nevertheless, I am fairly pleased with this one.
It's on a quarter sheet of Arches Cold-pressed 140# paper with Winsor Newton artists watercolor tube paint.

This next one is a Sunflower done on a scrap piece of paper that had a very light textured yellow ochre background - I sketched out the sunflower and masked a few of the lighter areas, then poured a layer of yellow, orange, and green paint.  Once this dried, I masked a few more areas and let that dry.  Then I poured a final layer of dark blue, green and red.  After that was dry, I pulled off the frisket - unfortunately, some of the underlying areas must not have been completely dry before I applied the masking fluid because the paper pulled up in a couple of places.  I finished the piece with some texture by splattering paint, sprinkling on a bit of salt, and finally brought out some of the petal shapes with a micron pen.  This one is about 8x10 sheet of Arches Cold-pressed 140# paper with Winsor Newton artists watercolor tube paint

Pouring is a an exciting way to build some very interesting color transitions and effects.  The process of masking is tricky to apply and adds a tedious element of waiting required to ensure that the paper is completely dry before applying and the masking fluid is completely dry before additonal painting.  But, if you have the patience for it, the effects can be stunning.


  1. The sunflower is my absolute favorite! I've tried the masking fluid a few times (had the same problem with peeling up portions of paper), but have never heard of pouring. Are you saying literally pour liquid watercolor over the masked piece?

  2. Yes - pouring is literally preparing a mix of watercolor (I usually use small plastic tubs to mix up tube color and water to a good consistency) over wet paper or wet paper that has been masked. It's a great way to put down a 'motherwash' and there are some great watercolor painters who use this technique. Jean Grastorf has written a great book on it - here's her website if you want to check her out http://www.jeangrastorf.com/

  3. Thank you Anne, I will definitely look into her work!

  4. P.S. I ordered her book & DVD--thanks again!


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