Getting the Paper wet (enough)

Watercontrol! That is one of the biggest struggles I hear from beginners! After getting a lot of questions like these these:

  • How do I get the paper wet enough?

  • Why does my paper buckle?

  • how do I paint fast enough to get those lovely runs without turning everything ito a giant puddle?


I decided to try to answer them. So in this blogpost I'll talk a bit about how to get your paper wet and when you know how to stop.


I also created a class for beginners that goes in depth with this and a lot more. To be the first to know about the Launch sign up to the waitlist right HERE.


Wetting the paper

So how do you actually get your beautiful paper wet? There is a couple of ways to do this.

  1. The classic: You grab a big brush that can hold a lot of water or a sponge. Now you dip it in water and wet the page. It's so simple that its a classic ;)

  2. The experimental: I often use a mistspray of some sort to wet the page. This will result in a page with water droplets instead of the entire page covered in water. When you apply the paint it will spread randomly and unctrolable. It's a little scary but super fun.


Remember you dont need to wet the paper! You can also choose to start out with wet paint on dry paper (the technique called wet on dry).



When do you wet the paper?

You can wet the paper in different stages of your painting.


  1. As the very first thing: Apply water before anything else. Then you will get a nice wet surface to work on and your paint will spread and flow around. This is great for a soft sky, background or fields.

  2. As a second layer: You can re-wet the paper again again. Just make sure that your painting is completely dry before doing so. You might want to do this if you want to strengthen colors.


Uh and a cool tip for you: If you tip your paper a little after you put your paint down but the page is still wet you can get the paint to move! It will create beautiful movement in the painting. Just lay the paper flat on the table when you want it to stop. The lilac painting above shows this effect.



When enough is enough

So when is there just enough water? It's a good question and often depends on factors like paper, motive and temperature. but there is a couple of guidelines.


  • The rule of thumb: Wet your paper and wait for the water to sink in a little. When the paper has a shine but no puddles you can paint without getting blooms. If it starts to dry in places but still have puddles, then wet the drier areas and lift the puddles with a thirsty brush.

  • If you like blooms: Then dont wait too long ;) Blooms happen when there are puddles. I kind of like the random look of blooms and try to embrace it. I even drip in extra water in different drying stages just for the fun of it.

  • Just be aware of Buckles: It's not as cute as the word sounds. This is when the paper dries in and annoying that is far from flat. They appear when you use a lot of water but can be avoided. Try Using a mistspray on the back of the paper or iron it after it has dryed all up.


Funny enough you'll often need more water than you think. So make some tests on the paper you like to use and see how much water works for you.


And again if you want to see all of this in action and learn a ton of other techniques to really master Watercolor, then get on the waitlist for my Beginner Masterclass. I promise the wait wont be long. Find the Waitlist right HERE
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