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The Magical Watercolor Technique That Inspired Me To Paint

Updated on May 16, 2018
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Cathy is a graduate of Propersi School of Art and former member of Riley League of Artists. She only makes a mess of herself, not the canvas

Angel Of Water

Watercolor - Wet On Wet Technique
Watercolor - Wet On Wet Technique | Source

Angels are non-denominational, no matter what faith there is nothing too big or small for your angels to help you with, you just need to ask.

Sunset Angel

Watercolor - Wet on Wet Technique
Watercolor - Wet on Wet Technique | Source

You can say I was guided and inspired to paint my series of three Angels: The Angel Of Water, The Angel of Sunrise and The Angel Of Sunset.

Angel of Sunrise

Watercolor - Wet on Wet Technique
Watercolor - Wet on Wet Technique | Source

The New And Unfamiliar

Life suddenly changed when my boys who lived with me in New Jersey decided to visit their dad who lived in California for a week. Knowing my children were halfway across the country made an ordinary situation like home alone taking on whole different feeling. Usually, I would look forward to a little time alone but this time everything seemed new and unfamiliar. I was lonely in my solitude wandering from room to room a little dazed, not knowing what to do.

A Time of Rediscovery

This experience has taught me that being alone can be a valuable experience and become a powerful aspect of your life if it is approached in the right way. That week I learned a lot about myself. In times such as these we all are invited to listen to our inner voice; whether we accept that invitation is up to us. We can either drown out the voices with noise from various activities and TV or we can face the music we are internalizing.

My internal voice led me to picking up a paintbrush which I hadn't picked up in years. Turning on the beautiful music of Enya and painting. At first, I had nothing in mind, I was as blank as the canvas. I just allowed myself to be led by the music and perhaps the angels whispering in my ear.


I wet my watercolor paper under the faucet to get a watery affect, then sprayed different watercolor inks on the paper. I watched as the ink intermingled with the water and bled into each other. I blew on the paint with a straw forming abstract shapes. I tilted the paper from side to side until the colors merged and formed a resemblance of what looked remarkably to me like an Angel and a waterfall. Inspired by this vision, I painted on through the day and made this resemblance a reality. Thus, The Angel of Water was created.

Truly inspired, I did the same with my other two Angels the Sunrise and Sunset Angels.

Wet on Wet Watercolor Technique

Wet On Wet Technique

The wet on wet technique is what I used to create my Angel paintings. Basically, it is applying wet pigment to wet paper.

Even though Wet on Wet is a very basic watercolor technique, it is one of the most challenging.

The type of paper, the amount of water on the paper, the amount of water on your brush, how thick you lay the paint on, and the amount of time that has passed since you wet the paper, all play an important role in the outcome of the painting.

The only way to conquer this medium is through experience. Eventually, you get a feel for how much water to use on the paper and your brush. You learn to work fast when the paper is wet and how to get some control of the paint.


When at a loss for what to paint, wet on wet technique can be the answer. It was for me when I painted my angels. As I said above, I thoroughly wet the paper, not with a brush or sponge, like I sometimes do; I actually put the paper under the faucet.

It is so exciting to see your loaded brush of colored paint first touch the wet paper. Instantly the color dances and explodes in different directions. I just love to watch the magic happen. The way the paint takes shape and blends together in unexpected and beautiful ways.

I believe it is a sure cure for when you are feeling creatively blocked. Something usually forms from the various shapes, that inspires you to keep painting.

Abstract Feathers - Wet on Wet


A Fun Example of Wet On Wet Technique

The above painting of Abstract Feathers is another example of what wet on wet technique can do for a creative block.

I just wet the paper and dropped assorted, vibrantly colored watercolor ink onto the paper. Just like magic, the brightly colored drops spread and bled into one another to form the unmistakable shapes of feathers. I then painted in the stems and voila, a new painting emerged.

This was easy and fun and is a great project for the children.

Butterfly - Water Color - Wet on Wet and Wet on Dry Techniques


When creating my butterfly, I painted the underpainting wet on wet. Once this was dry I added wet paint on dry paint (wet on dry technique) This helped give my butterfly definition while the edges had a soft and watery look to them.

Different Ways To Get Interesting Effects

While your painting is wet it's fun to try the following different techniques for interesting effects, but the paper should be very wet.

Rubbing Alcohol - drop or brush it on and the color will push aside

Sprinkle some salt - Just brush it off once the painting dries and you get a very cool crystalized effect.

Straw - Put a straw in your mouth and blow. the wet paint bursts out into different shapes and you can get some very interesting effects.

Rubbing Alcohol Effect On Watercolor

Each dandelion is actually a drop of rubbing alcohol
Each dandelion is actually a drop of rubbing alcohol

Salt Effect On Watercolor

Salt was added to this painting to make a night sky.
Salt was added to this painting to make a night sky. | Source

Straw Blowing Effect

Cleverly, straw blown paint creates spiderman's webs.
Cleverly, straw blown paint creates spiderman's webs. | Source

Rose Tutorial

Below is a beautiful tutorial video of how to paint roses. This a more controlled way to use the wet on wet technique. She is masterfully controlling and manipulating the pigment with her brush, using just the right amount of water, pressure, and paint. Notice, first she wets the paper with her brush to contain the paint to a specific area.

This requires skill that only experience can give you.

Wet on Wet Watercolor Painting Technique

I Have One Question

Have you ever tried wet on wet technique?

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    • creativetouchart profile image

      Cathy Fidelibus - Creative Touch Art 3 days ago from New Jersey

      Thank you very much, I appreciate such a wonderful compliment. I'm glad you like it so much. - Cathy

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      James (Jamie) Grattan 3 days ago

      Your work is stunningly beautiful, and I applaud you for your detailed description of the methods and your passion for artistic creation.