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How to Create Watercolor Textures With Salt

Updated on January 22, 2018

Let's create salt patterns

Materials

Watercolor is a wonderful media and there are many textures you can create with it using simple ingredients and materials that can be found from home.

Textured Watercolor Paper

Paper

For this technique I'v used A4 (8x 10) sized 350gsm/150lb Seawhite watercolor paper. For all the projects where you are creating textures on watercolor paper I would recommend using paper which thickness is at least 300gsm. Any thinner paper than that easily tends to wrap itself.

Paint Brushes

Paint Brushes

Since you will be painting large areas I would recommend using large watercolor brushes. Most of mine are Windsor & Newton series sizes from 8 to 11. Depending what kind of textures you wish to create you can use smaller sized paint brushes to create small detailed patterns.

Chunky Salt

Salt

For this project regular chunky sea salt is perfect!

Jar of water for each color

If you paint with more than one color I'd recommend having jar of water for each color. This way your colors don't get smudged when you are painting.

Warm Yellow

Watercolor Paints

For this project I've used Daler & Rowney's aqua fine paints. These colors have very rich pigments so you only need little bit of each color. Colors that I am using are warm yellow and purple that I am going to mix from bright pink and ultramarine blue. You can of course choose your own color combination.

Let's get started

Watercolor Wash

Start with a watercolor wash. Go through the whole paper with a wet brush. Try to keep your strokes steady and even. More larger your brush is the easier and faster this step will be.

You can also tape your paper to the painting surface (which in my case is my studio table). I often use masking tape or washi tape. They don't contain lots of glue and when they are teared off they wont rip off the paper.

Add some yellow

When you paint with watercolors you should start with the lighter colors and then move towards the darker colors. Watercolor technique is total opposite to oil painting and acrylics where you start to paint with darker colors and move on the lighter ones. With watercolors it is recommended to start with lighter colors because unlike with acrylics and oils it is more difficult to fix the painting if you are unhappy with the colors.

I painted the right upper corner of paper with yellow and left the rest for the purple color.

Time for purple

Apply the purple color while the paper is still wet and let the colors blend to each others little bit. While the paper is still wet you have the control over the colors and you can create swirls and patterns with your paint brush.

I dropped some purple paint from the tip of my paint brush to the yellow paint where these drops spread and created patterns. You can also drop lighter colors into the dark areas.

If water starts to gather into one specific spot too much like to the edges of paper. You can gently remove it with tissue paper. Dip the edge of the tissue paper to the watercolor and let the paper absorb the extra water to itself.

Dropping Salt

Pour salt to all the places where you wish the textures to appear. If you wish to highlight the salt textures you can dip drops of water from your paint brush to the salt chunks. Salt absorbs water to itself creating snowflake-type of patterns.

All finished

Let your paper dry for and hour or two. Then gently scrub the salt chunks off with the palm of your hand or you can brush them off with dry paint brushes. The more time you play with this technique the better you will get.

If you wish to create strong salt patterns I'd recommend using darker colors. If you wish to create distinctive patterns with brighter colors try combining several bright colors together like yellow and orange.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and get some wonderful results with this technique!

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    • fairychamber profile image
      Author

      Niina Niskanen 2 months ago from Wrexham

      Usually the salt absorbs the color pigment as well so if you use it again it can mess up your art work but for this technique you don´t need to use huge amounts of salt.

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 2 months ago from Ohio

      Very nice and interesting! Thanks for sharing. One question: can you re-use the salt or does it lose the absorbing power?

    • fairychamber profile image
      Author

      Niina Niskanen 2 months ago from Wrexham

      Awesome!

    • Heidi Smulders profile image

      Heidi Smulders 2 months ago from South Africa

      Thanks, I like this very much and am going to try it today! I think my young boys will enjoy it also. Great article.

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