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Watercolor 101

Lesson 14 of 28

Paper Characteristics

Molly Murrah

Watercolor 101

Molly Murrah

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Lesson Info

14. Paper Characteristics


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Duration:1:11:27
2 Q&A Duration:35:31
  Class Trailer
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1 Basic Introduction Duration:04:30
2 Paint and Paint Properties Duration:35:33
3 Understanding Color Duration:08:06
4 Hue: The Color Wheel Duration:14:16
5 Mixing Colors Duration:15:56
6 Other Color Terms Duration:17:07
7 Light and Shadows Duration:03:14
8 Layering and Glazing Duration:06:19
9 Homework Duration:07:47
10 Q&A Duration:08:15
  Class Trailer
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1 Watercolor Papers Duration:23:36
2 Paper Characteristics Duration:34:12
3 Watercolor Brushes Duration:19:15
4 Basic Brush Techniques Duration:32:32
5 Putting It All Together Duration:09:28
6 Q&A Duration:07:08
  Class Trailer
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1 Drawing for Painting Duration:1:03:45
2 Proportion and Perspective Duration:06:41
3 Good Composition Duration:29:16
4 Last Class Preparation Duration:05:40
5 Q&A Duration:09:10
  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Introduction Duration:06:29
2 Creating Textures Duration:19:45
3 Other Fun Techniques Duration:33:13
4 Reserving Whites and Lifting Duration:53:13
5 Things to Remember Duration:21:54

Lesson Info

Paper Characteristics

So now let's go on to what I call paper characteristics now the painting on the left was done by my one of my first teachers dan lynley and she loves to work on cold press she never works on anything else and you can see she just gets such beautiful grated washes up there and the colors the way they blend in together and but they also create can create a granulated effect because the texture is there it's just not not really really intense and it creates a just a really beautiful your strokes khun disappear into each other on cold press paper the one on the right that's painted on hot press and that's ted not haul and he likes to see his strokes and if you take a look at that this is a close up of that painting I showed in the first week you can see every dab of paint that he puts down there and it's ah it's it's an effect and he uses hot press in order to get that effect it's a smooth surface hot press good for large wash areas if you're if you're painting nice and wet but the paint r...

uns can be difficult for it can be difficult for beginners it because it doesn't soak the paint up well actually it soaks the paint up so you can sometimes get streaks and you can sometimes get runs especially if you put it up on on diesel but you can get runs on anything if you're putting up on an easel um it shows the strokes and it dries fast and beginners have a hard time because the paint sort of slide around on the surface a little bit so it's a little bit harder to control uh rough paper is the two theist they have the deepest well so if you're looking for a real strong dry brush technique or you're looking to use granulated paints and you want to see the paint's go down and collecting the wells you'd probably want to use rough it's good for large areas for building texture but it's not so good for detail and I since I paint often with a lot of detail uh rough is something I would use only on special occasions now this is the same paper but different results this on the left was painted on arches hundred forty pound cold press paper on a block this was painted on the block the one on the right was painted on exactly the same paper on sheet I don't know what it is I don't know whether it's because it's sort of pre stretched but the sizing on the paper is just different and my girlfriend rene st peter painted this she's an excellent painter and she started doing it on the block and she stopped she didn't even finish the painting because she just didn't like what was happening so she transferred the drawing onto a regular piece of paper and painted it on the right and look at the difference you can see instantly really, really, really in the sky there's a huge difference, so she just couldn't get it to work, and she said, I probably will never use blocks again unless I don't really see that I see a little bit different this guy, but I don't know well, there's a richer, deeper color in the horses on the right now, probably because she painted them deeper but you don't you just don't see the strokes much, take a look down in this low, lower left hand corner and then look in the lower left hand corner there. Can you see how that's all nice and blended and everything and over here it's street it's like it doesn't accept the water the same way, right? Yeah, you know, on the different kinds of paper, I think it just depends upon you know something? I know a lot of people find the water had blocks really, really super convenient. They just learned how to use them exactly whatever you like, what you learned exactly. You learn to work with the, um the pros and cons of that exactly, which is why you like one hundred forty upon our show, because that is the one that I just know you did you know the best I started using it and I fell in love with it and I've never had I've never sat there and said uh you know this isn't working I wonder if another paper would be better right that's why it's good to try different papers exactly and stuff because they do you know and that's why there's so many varieties? Because nothing is good for just exactly exactly. I agree a hundred percent ok so well this is the u po now you see you can see this is a this paints very, very differently it's a synthetic plastic paper the paint literally sits on the surface and so it takes a little bit longer to dry if you get a lot of paint on there yes, michelle parker's yeah it's almost like markers. Yeah, and and you could get teo there's even a translucent version of this paper where you can literally see through the paper which if you do a tight drawing and then you want to paint on the translucent you po you could put your drawing down, put your translucent paper on top of it and paint right over and you don't ever have to put a pencil mark on your paper so think about that that's a very convenient way to dio um it does stain with the stayner's it will stain so you can't always get back to pure white because it will stay. Do you know what that you, po? Is that a color fast, medium? Well, will your painting fade on that after time or? Well, it depends on the paints that you use if you use fugitive paints no matter what you paint on, it'll fade over time, it's but I would call it I would probably call it archival because it's not it's, not like anything on the paper is going to get into the paint and change the quality or color of the paint, but if you're really concerned about it, you know, lasting for one hundred years, make sure you don't use any fugitive paints whatsoever and paid get better and better all the time, all the time. So, you know, give it another five years and probably no pain will fade ever again, you know, unless it's the pure mineral paints that they literally dig out of the ground. Uh, his name fugitive pain, yeah, fugitive paints. They are on the way they refuted, they run, they run and hide, you know? So then there are other specialty papers like rice paper writes papers made from grains and it's unscientific, completely so it's, incredibly absorbent but it's also very fragile and it can't be stretched you've got the watercolor board that I showed you before it's essentially watercolor paper adhered to a rag cardboard comes in rough cold press and hot press clay board uh is something else it's both in smooth and textured surfaces and I think they literally coat it with some kind of clay coating and then there's the aqua board that I showed you that was the painting of my son when he was a little baby that's a piece of sealed would and it's a hard surface and it retains colors it's and it's easy to lift so all of these air worth trying I mean and you khun you could get samples of the menu right supply store and try and they even have something called watercolor canvas which is literally canvas mounted onto a hard substrate and covered with jess oh and it's very versatile it stays wet a lot longer and it lifts easily also the effect you're looking for will determine the paper you paint on pure and simple so that's why experimentation is really worth doing now treated papers this is ah sample and I think I mentioned to this in my first class uh I did a treated paper workshop with my teacher kay barnes and she came up with this idea of taking hot press paper hundred forty pound hot press paper and she rolls with a very fine mesh foam roller a little roller acrylic gloss medium on top of the hot press paper and then you let it dry, and then you paint on top of it. And it it it I don't know if you can see well, it's, move in, and then you can see see the texture in that there's amazing texture in that down in these lower lefthand corners, and down in that rock, down in there and over in the corner and up in the upper right hand corner. And that is very, very easy to achieve on this kind of treated paper. It's pretty much it works pretty much like plastic. You can lift it off. Uh, it's, uh, it's, fun it's. A lot of fun. Now I I brought samples in for everybody to plant kind of play around with in the class. And what happened was this painting that I'm showing you here on the screen now I brought it home. It was a full sheet and I brought it home. And this was when I was still painting on my dining room table and I turned it upside down and then promptly spilled a glass of water and it's soaked under the soaked underneath the painting and lifted off the whole upper left quarter the painting, I mean, it was just gone so I cut that portion off and brought in what was left over for you guys to sort of try so take, you know, take your one injured it doesn't matter which brush should take actually, I'm going to take the number twelve and just wet your brush and just go for a section of this that has some color on it and then use a piece of paper towel to blot it, see what that does just lifts that area right off so you can put paint down and then go back and sort of do like negative painting. You can lift your subject out of a background that's been painted uh one of the women in case class wi I went to open studio on wednesday night and she had a, uh a painting that she had done in a treated paper workshop and she was going to lift what they called a lion fish out of the background and a lion fish is just like this skeleton skeleton of a fish with all these oh it's just fascinating five yes, yes, yes, yes, and so she was going to go in and lift the lion fish out of the background it's going to be gorgeous but you can get very found flamboyant fish yes, yes, you can go it over a line a few times very, very thin and then go in and blotted up all that you could get some interesting effects using a sponge and going back oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, anything. Are you scrubbing brush? Yeah. And what you can do is, you know, let's. Try it. See if we can paint something on top of this. Gonna use a really garish yucky color doesn't paint too well again. Once the paint that's down there, uh, has dried. You have nice glaze. So, yeah, but it is. I'm starting to see some lift. Yep, it'll lift, especially if you paint over one area more than once. So the ability for youto live the pain so easily because of the medium that was put on the papers exactly. The paint has not soaked into the paper and it's like putting just this extra extra sizing on. Now you can see on this piece here in the area. I glazed over it and I was able to glaze over it. You can see there's a glaze of blue over the area where I lifted it so you can go back in and all your paintings and and snow you could do that. Absolutely. You can do that. You could do that, and you could go back in and that, you know, you could paint a color underneath. And then paint like a darker color on top and then go back in and lift off and try to get back to the color that you painted first I would probably suggest using stayner's underneath then if you were going to do that and you were hoping to get back to some kind of color and not directly back to just plain white paper but this is just fun I mean you know all of this stuff it's fine so much of a code do you put on your paper before you you know it's pretty thin or can you put it on thicker you want to really build us a neat tex well they're they're a different gel mediums there there are some that air air like a paste where you can actually actually create peaks you know almost like egg whites that have been whipped up uh jail mediums and things like that you can do all kinds of things with these acrylic mediums and this I wanted to go pretty smooth those so I used a little roller about this big that I got at the hardware store and it's the fine it's not it's not the cellulose that has big open holes in it it's very very fine sponge and you mix your acrylic lost medium with water you mix it to the consistency of uh like chocolate syrup that's the consistency it needs to be and then you roll it on your paper can you try to you? We just roll it down and try to get it a smooth as you can or it's rough issue can, whatever, whatever it is you're looking for in your effect. Wait, wait. Is that add texture on the on the fly if you want to destroy it and I think you could probably even do it on top of paint. That's already down on paper. That would be nice for sure. Pay cycling paper if you really had something. Sure. Or you are? If you want to say you want to, uh, get your paint down on your paper and then you want to do something on top of that that you want the acrylic glass medium effect on. And so you put acrylic glass medium over part of the painting. That's already been painted and then paint on top of that again. I don't know. I've never tried it. I don't know if there's something in the water color paper that would keep the acrylic lost medium from painting the same but it's worth a try, you know, go back to go back to our experimentation. Okay? To stretch or not, these air, two different paintings, the one on the left, I did not stretch. Because I was just looking to paint in certain isolated, wet areas. I wasn't gonna wet, though. I never did go in and let the whole paper the one on the right. I wanted a soaked piece of paper, and so I stretched that one, and you can see they're both dry. You can see the difference between the two now. The one on the left. I'm just entering it into a show tonight. Um, that's not finished. By the way, I went in and finished it, but the one on the left, I was very, very easy for me to flatten it because I turned it over, and I put a spray of water on the back of it so that the back of the paper got wet, but not enough spray that it soaked through all the way to the other side. Then I took one of my men, my boards that I paint on, put it down on top of it, and I put a stack of magazines on top of it about this big. And I let it sit there for about a day, day and a half. And then when I lifted those magazines off, it was flat as a board, so again, this is another one of my statements I'll make all the time there are million fixes in this in this medium in any meeting you can always figure out a way to to do something when you are stretching your watercolor paper never ever ever use hot water use lukewarm best and if anything I would go back down to really just tepid tepid cool water because the hot water will uh weaken the fibers in the paper and it'll be it'll it'll permeate the sizing mohr and weaken the fibers in the paper so it'll your paper will paint very differently if you try to soak it in hot water okay, so this is going to be one of her in class exercises so this is where I want you to take, uh samples from your sample pack and I have sort of picked out the samples that I'd like to use one of them is gonna be your you poe paper another one is going to be your number one sheet and you're number one sheet is the fabbiano artistic oh one hundred forty pounds rough and you can tell just by looking at that paper how different a surface it is from you're cold press and especially your hot press then the other one I'd like you to try is the saunders waterford hot press and that's sheet number five what was the first number? The first number was number one she's number one the fabry ano rough then take sheet number five that's the saunders water food then take sheet number nine which is the fi briana artistic oh cold press and we're going to throw that one in the mix so that you can see if it paints a little bit differently from your regular arches one hundred forty pound cold press okay, so it's a sheet number one sheet number five sheet number nine and sheet number seventeen that's what we're gonna be using do you when you stretch your paper do you prefer toe stick with staples or do recommend people used tape if that's all I have available tone it's it you can use either but oftentimes people advise you that even if you use the tape uh you staple it along the edge anyway because the tape can come undone if enough water from your painting seeps underneath the tape after it's dried you know take the glue can come undone and so I just staple it I don't bother using the tape one of the things about using the tape is that, um it sticks to the paper and sometimes if you do go toe, pull it off you have to wet it and really soak first to get it off without it ripping the fibers of your paper and if you've if you've taped very close to where you're going to be mad ng you run the risk of of ripping fibers into your library in the water yeah, exactly okay so I would do you pull in the right and then I would do the rough next to it actually lets do the hot press let's follow the order that I that I have on the screen you pull in the right then number five and overlap them so that they have about maybe two and a half three inches of paper showing and then put your fire briana fi briana artistic oh cold press next to number five and that would be number nine and then put your um fry briana rough next to that so that we're in the order of same order that we did one of the number orders I remember one five and nine one five nine and seventeen now I would take some a little bit of tape so that these don't slip and slide over each other while you're painting on them because you want to just be able to run your brush over the top of each one of them so I would take them down on your board and actually taped them a little bit to each other so that they don't travel right it doesn't really matter for this I don't think usually usually the martin watermark will tell you which which side is the right side so basically you're going from rafa's to smoothest yes yes roughest too smooth now did you all spray your paints to get them softened in your palate? Okay, good no that's because it's a good thing todo column now I'm going to use a slightly smaller brush I'm going to use the three quarters because I need to make sure that I really get mine enclosed in the area that we're gonna be doing but you can use your one inch and we're going to go with our cool colors first so we're going to start with our oriole in and makes a good amount because we're going to run across all four pieces of paper we're going to run channels across all four pieces no I guarantee you you'll have fingerprints on your u po I've already got one on the edge of mine but I just want that that's fine this this is the exercise I just want you to see what happens when you paint on top of these papers then your next one will be your eliza in crimson again try to really load up your brush and get a decent amount of paint on it that's really living up I got it big wad of paint okay try not to touch but if you do you'll get a bloom of one color into the other and that's okay too that's what happened to me last time I did this there's definitely an area on the post it's not painting here and you'll see it see that it's amazing there's grease on here and it will not take the paint also on you po you have to paint you have to use thicker paint you really do if it's got too much water in it it won't work well at all but that's part of what we're seeing here part of what we're learning then we go with our ultra marie having the really the right consistency of pain is oftentimes why a lot of people just paint with paint right straight out of the tube they don't like it to dry first because they can just get that thick, syrupy consistency of honey that they're looking for right out the chute um I don't usually paint that way yeah, my you pose just not taking pain today it must have so many fingerprints and stuff on it see that it won't even take it down here so I think I've just handled it too much too many friends could be okay now we're going to move on to the new gambo sj you're painting molly have a question for you basically just asking what's matter matting is when you put a man around your painting and it's matted inside a frame it's usually two, three, four inches, it depends. It depends on I've seen paintings that air this big with mats that are every bit as wide as painting itself and um it's it's how you dress it up when you're gonna hang it on a wall it's the you can get double manse, you khun get single man so you could get mats in various colors. It's when you go take a piece of art into ben franklin and asked them or daniel smith or any place and asked them to frame it, they'll say, well, what color matt do you want? These paintings almost always have a man around to clean it up. Exactly, and this is something that I want to tell you. One of the things that that it would be very, very helpful for you to do whenever you're painting is to take a mat and take get a couple of vance that you don't consider good mats get a couple of months that khun get dirty that you, khun splash some paint on, keep him in your studio as framers for your art while you're in the process of painting because it's amazing what happens when you take that mess off the edge. When you block out the staples and you block out the brushstrokes and you block out all that stuff, you see a completely different painting than you do when you're looking at that in total, so keep a couple of mats in various sizes and, depending on the size of painting that you want to do, use those manse as framers. To frame your painting walls while you're in the process of painting it will help you with your composition it'll help you figure out whether your colors are moving I mean there's nothing that it won't help you with let's put it that way yeah I'm having a terrible time on mei yue po today I the sample kit didn't come with you pose so I got I got some sample you pope papers for you guys and cut him and put him in with you so maybe years it's working better mei yue po is piece that I had for the first class and I think I've just handled it way too much do you think that you po in the and the top press that you treat those are those basically no they're not the u po is is is so smooth it's like painting on a piece of glass the treated paper has texture it'll have text you're just because what happens is the agreement the acrylic gloss medium dries pretty quickly and when it dries the texture from the sponge or the roller that you put it on with it's what you see on your paper so you get the finer rollers for less texture if you you know you know this big thick rollers that they do for popcorn ceiling I mean if you put it on with that you would get texture that you'd have a hard, difficult time painting on you know so your application method will determine your texture. Okay, now we're doing pirouettes, scarlett yeah, I'm sorry guys mei yue po is just not even painting but I have samples of it from the previous class so I have a meeting years is painting good well then we'll shows we'll have you guys lift some of years up you're coming about it being like markers yeah, right on yeah, it is okay, now we're going to go to our what is that color blue yeah blue I blame available last time right? I blanked completely. I was I was turning all my words around this morning and saying the word that was supposed to be second first I'm going oh boy, this is very good it is gonna be a good good class today so okay, this is our thing and I should just do one stroke or so you can be even go over and several times okay, whatever you want. So let me get my samples out that I did before I make because here's the u po sample that I did in the first class yeah, you could do any color you want to on this one painted a lot better now this was exactly the same shade of the same sheet of yue po that I'm using here but you can see there's a world of difference between them and how they painted so that was not an experiment that worked that well, but you learn that's the difference between a pristine piece of u po lice that you've just got too many fingerprint exactly that I've handled too much because I was when I got the sample sheets from uh, daniel smith this time I did not realize that you poe had been pulled out of the sample so I had to go back and scrounge to find my original sheet so I had something to use and then I bought a sheet and cut him up for everybody in the class so you know, it was just handled too much one thing I guess when you buy it does it come like slip sheeted or you buy it pans and you can buy single sheets and so if you buy a single cheat, make sure that the people who are pulling it out of the stacks for we don't have much control over that I'm afraid at a warehouse but you know, it's uh, I know they're very careful in our warehouse I'm sure that I was I bet they were white loves I was just going to say a bit they wear white gloves and they pack it amazingly well, yeah, so anyway, take a look at the rough I mean, I I just love how the rough paints look how the how the ultra marine granule eights in on that rough paper that's the top one that's the top cool blue yeah okay but you're talking far yeah, that was like looks like dots in it yes yep. And that's that's because ultra marine is granulated paint and is on top of rough paper so the granules of the paint will see further down into the wells and collect and create that sort of light dark look that you see in the various wells on the paper does the the coarseness of the paper does that make it uh longer for teo dr um you know, I don't know about that I think I think drying times are more affected by sizing humidity, right? Yeah, absolutely absolutely I mean, if you live in arizona, your paintings will drive and half the time that they will appear going out with a hair dryer to yeah, you can you have to be careful with a hair dryer do you don't want to put it on hot and you don't want to hold it any closer than maybe ten inches to the painting and you don't want to put it on your high setting either you know I do but I hold it way up here I put it on hot and I hold it way up here but if I hold it way up here by the time it gets here it's cooler and it's not quite you know, but you have to be careful using hair dryer you can push your pain around on on the paper if you do it when when there's too much of a puddle and when it's too wet you'll get in real close on it and getting close okay, so let's just set these off on the side but they can continue drawing when you're painting one thing you want to definitely try to do you want to definitely try to make sure that uh you makes enough pain you know, because you don't want to have to go back in later and try to mix that same color again you just don't want to have to do that I found that I keep um what I'm trying to mix colors so I'm putting the paintbrush with paint into the next color but that's okay you'll you'll dirty up your paints that way but they're easy enough to clean off you go in with a nice song rush and you just wet the top where you can run it under a faucet or you could spray it out of the well if you get you know, like a dark fellow on top of your oriol and some people absolutely I mean I've taken uh classes where cases don't rents your brush go right from the blue to the orange go you know don't rent your brush because you've got good, thick paint on your brush and you may want to change color, but if you rents it, you not only just get rid of valuable color, but you also then run the risk of getting too much water in your brush and then when you go back in, you could get blooms because if you've got it blum's water blooms are and we'll do this in the last class or when you, when you have more water in the brush in the let me see if I can explain if you have a pigment to water ratio pigment to water ratio on the paper is say I don't know sixty, seventy percent pigment and thirty forty percent water on the paper, but in your brush that percentages exactly reversed so that you have more water to pigment on the brush you touched that brush to that area on the paper and you will get a blue because there's more water to pigment in the brush than on the paper and what it does is it just pushes the paint out of the way you can have a nice lay down a nice wash and it could be perfect. Oh, and I've seen this happen so many times it's happened to me and then you go well that's great, I love it and then you somebody walks past with a brush that has some water on it and it splashes on your paper. I've done it. I've done it. I've done it.

Class Description

Learn about color, papers, brushes, drawing and composition in this complete guide to watercolor. Molly Murrah teaches painting techniques that will help you create your own special works of art.



I would also recommend this class with some hesitation. This course is a broad and sweeping overview of watercolor painting. It is a good reference course and I will probably be treated like a reference book for watercolors. The skills we covered were valuable. It was beneficial to hear about the watercolor artists that Molly enjoyed and to have a list. The exercises were appropriate. I would recommend this course to someone who likes to know all the details of things before getting started. If you are someone that wants to jump right in this may be frustrating. Obviously, I am the latter. A few suggestions from my perspective....limit the product pushing. The references to Daniel Smith were off putting. I will try to avoid purchasing their products at all costs even if they are the best. It was very difficult to get access to the paint colors that she wanted us to have as some of the names are slightly different than what is available to me locally. I have already taken a beginner color watercolor course which I loved!! If I had not taken that course I probably would have been lost here. In that course(also online) we finished a project for every 10 minute lesson. I learned the basic technique's and it was FUN! I wish this class had more projects to practice that can be completed by a beginner and intermediate. Portraits seem like a large undertaking and it would be helpful to build confidence with smaller and simpler projects. I just felt a little discouraged. Molly is very talented and the work she shared was very thoughtful and showed incredible skill! I am very thankful that she took the time to teach the class and share her knowledge.

a Creativelive Student

This course was fabulous. Molly is a great artist/teacher. Her instruction has really unleashed my creativity and given me confidence to create.


Looks like a really fun class! I'll take it soon!