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How to Control Water in Your Brush - Cindy Briggs

Painting Tip: Controlling Water in Your Brush

How to Control Water in Your Brush

One of the biggest challenges in watercolor painting is controlling the amount of water in your brush. People often ask me how I do it. Washing and Rinsing your brush is a crucial step when painting because it’s how you get those nice and clean colors.

Rinsing and Washing Your Brush

Start by dipping your brush tip into the water and stir it around. Then tap, tap the water off then pull your brush over the edges of your water container releasing even more water. This way your brush is ready to dip into your watercolor paints.  I like wells that allow you to put the whole side of the brush into the (dry) watercolors and roll it around to pick up more color if needed.

If you are changing colors rinse and wash out your brush stirring 2-3 times with vigor, then wipe your brush using a paper towel to make sure that there are no more streaks of color from it. Repeat as needed.  If it’s clean you can go back into the water, tap and pull the brush over the edge.

Usually I start by preparing my brush with water, then dabbing a color and mixing a puddle of that color with a mid value consistency of milk.  Then I’ll add more paint or water to get the consistency that I need for my painting.  This approach allows you to control the paint with more confidence over time.

For a lighter paint value, you’ll need more water, so it’s thin like herbal tea.  For a deeper value, add more paint for a thicker creamier mix. You can create a whole range of intensities or values from light to deeper color depending on how much water and paint you use.  It’s good to practice so you’ll know what to do once you start a painting.

A Thirsty Brush

If you accidentally end up with a puddle of water on your paper because you had too much water in your brush, make a thirsty brush by rinsing out your brush then squeezing the water out with a paper towel – it will then work like a straw and suck up the excess water.  This is much better than dabbing your paper with a paper towel.

Always make note that the ratio of water to paint as that is going to make a big difference. The more you paint, the more you’ll automatically know how much water to use with your watercolor paints to get the consistency you want.  Remember these tips. When you add more water, the value of your paint becomes lighter. Wash your brush thoroughly before choosing a new color so you can go back and forth between all the colors and get a beautiful clean hue every time.

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