Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday's Tips and Techniques for Watercolor Painting

The Uses for Kosher Salt in Watercolor

The use of salt in a watercolor painting creates a very unique look. It is a technique that is a bit tricky and it's all about timing.

I prefer to use the coarse kosher salt because of the size of the crystal. It's larger than the regular very fine table salt.

In this painting, I painted the colorful sky in gradating colors. As the shine goes off the paper, I used a tiny splash of clean water in two spots of the sky. This gives a similar look to the salt effect, however the bursts are much larger. Then I sprinkled just a tiny amount of salt near the water splatter. This will give it the look of a few stars beginning to sparkle in the night sky.

Low on the horizon I added bright colors to simulate the tops of a forest of trees. Be careful not to work in any previously salt sprinkled areas. When I got the look I wanted, I allowed the shine to go off the paper and sprinkled salt within my colorful tree top area. Sometimes the degree of wetness is different in the various areas. You may need to sprinkle a little here and a little there as the shine goes away.

Timing is so important with the use of salt. If you add the salt too soon, it will melt. If the salt melts, it will clump and stick to your paper. If you add the salt too late, nothing happens. If you add the salt as the shine goes away, the salt will suck up the color of the pigment.

Allow the paint and salt to completely dry. You can not speed up this step, you have to allow the salt to do its thing. When it is completely dry, using your hand, brush away the bits of salt. When you have removed all the salt, you can continue to work on your painting.

Salt can be used to create little stars in the sky. It can be used to create texture in clumps of trees and foliage. It can be used to create snowflakes in a winter scene. If you use too much salt, you will create a blizzard! Less is more.

For a step by step of how to use kosher salt, check out this old Tuesday's Tip:


Kathleen said...

Using salt is lots of fun *lol* but I definitely agree about the timing - and, no, I have not mastered it yet! Still having a lot of fun with this technique, though!

Rita said...

You have to tilt your head and wait and watch as the shine goes off the paper, then sprinkle some salt. Some areas may need a different amount of time if you're working a large area.

Kathleen said...

I should probably try the kosher salt, too - I have been experimenting with table salt. I have had some fun results =) Thanks for the tip!


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