If wetting the paper on both sides seems stressful to you, I would suggest using a wooden board to staple the paper down, then only wet one surface before each wash.
Before stapling the paper, it must be expanded by soaking it in a tub of clean water for just a few minutes. Do not stretch the paper by hand while stapling. Trust me. The paper is already stretched to the limit and will shrink while drying, creating a taut surface on which to paint.
These glazes of color are laid down with a chisel-edged brush much like a house painting brush, but with softer bristles...like ox hair or sable. The stiffer the bristles, the more likely you will lift color from the first wash when you lay down the second color. So.....softer is better.
Keep your subject simple.....VERY SIMPLE.... The watercolor glazing technique is all about luminosity of color, not the craftsmanship of fine detail. MOOD is more our subject than anything.
The watercolor glazing process is best done with a wet-in-wet procedure_ and I have found it much easier to accomplish if the paper is wet on both sides. By using Plexiglas or any non-absorbent surface (you can even cover your wooden board with plastic wrap) the stretching process is eliminated and painting may be started immediately.
While giving the paper a chance to expand you can start squeezing tubes of paint into individual cups or bowls. Add water to each cup and stir until the paint is thoroughly dissolved.
(A suggestion: Fuji film containers. They are translucent and you can see the color that you have put in them. Also you can use an indelible marker to write the name of the pigment in each container.
At the end of each day, cover each container with its lid to keep the paint from evaporating. The next time you wish to paint, the pigment will have settled to the bottom, therefore, if you wish heavier pigment for a painting just dip the brush all the way to the bottom of the container...no scrubbing and ruining the point of your brush trying to load it with pigment.
To Begin Painting
If your paper wants to buckle or curl, is dry, and you have finished the many watercolor glazes needed to achieve the color you desire, you can lay it face down on a flat surface, dampen it with a sponge, cover it with paper, and weight it with books to allow it to dry.
With all these layers of paint, it is easy to lift color in certain areas to brighten the surface with highlights if needed. If we are really smart, we will have painted around the highlights, but I do not plan my paintings down to the last detail, so I usually have to lift the highlights. Masking them usually makes more trouble than it is worth, but sometimes is a necessary evil. If you use a masking liquid, it must be done before you wet the paper the first time.
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