Some painters are absolutely at ease having their studio full of mediums and auxiliaries: certainly, those who paint with oil colors know something about it. However, even those who delight in watercolors often have to deal with some precious medium and useful auxiliary products.
The one around which most of the questions are concentrated is, usually, the liquid for masking watercolors: how to use it correctly? And how many different types of masking liquid are there?
How to make white in watercolor
Before we see how to use watercolor masking liquid, let’s take a step back: how do you do white in the world of watercolor?
It is a trivial question for the expert watercolorist and a real pitfall for those approaching this discipline just now. The sheet typically gives the white in the watercolor: where you don’t paint, in short, there is white. Simple, isn’t it? Actually, no, it is not at all easy, at least not from the beginning. The good watercolorist is indeed the one who manages to leave some white without making it clear that what you are looking at is a bare sheet and cool drawing ideas.
Since the whiteness of the paper support gives the white in the watercolor, it is understood that it is not something that can do at any time. Therefore, the white areas must be planned before starting to paint to ensure that not even a drop of color ends up inside them. However, as the watercolors know well, this is not easy because the watercolor does not offer total control.
Therefore, it is understood that the liquid for the masking is a particular medium that makes it possible to ensure that the white areas remain so until the end of the painting. How is it possible?
The masking liquid is a colorless liquid that must place before starting to paint where you do not want to end up – by mistake – no color. When the masking liquid is deposited, you can be sure that there will be no “leaks” of color towards areas that must remain candid.
Of auxiliary products for masking watercolor, it must be said, and there are different types. The classic one is precisely the masking liquid, which is very fluid, transparent, and designed to be removed once the painting is finished to leave the sheet naked under it.
But there are also unique masking products that are permanent and must not be removed from the watercolor. This category includes the Winsor & Newton Permanent Masking Medium, which looks like a liquid wax with a whitish color. Being water repellent, it does not allow the paint to settle and take hold of the substrate. Then there is the white liquid gum, which can be used as a regular liquid for masking, and there are the so-called watercolor masking pens, which allow you to create white areas very precisely!
Let’s start with an assumption: some watercolor painters have used the liquid to mask a few or rare times, and many others have never tried it without giving up white spaces within their works.
Undoubtedly, the masking medium allows you to leave white areas more comfortable and decidedly more precise. There are many opportunities to use this medium. Think, for example, a watercolor depicting the sea, and the masking liquid could use to leave spaces of light between the waves, indicate the foam of the same, and enhance the sails of passing boats or the body of the body the lighthouse that rises from the cliff.
Many watercolors do not use masking liquid because they fear making a mess and ruining their work. Indeed, the possibility of doing minor damage exists, but only if you use this medium in the wrong way.
First of all, as anticipated, the use of the watercolor masking liquid must be planned upstream, even before starting. All the areas that should remain white should be marked and “covered” with the transparent mask even before dipping the brush in color.
As for the use of the classic liquid for watercolor masking, it must be said that it should never, ever be shaken too much, let alone shaken. Before using it, it will be more than enough to mix it gently, perhaps with a wooden stick.
To better preserve their reserve, the most careful will pour a little liquid into a small bowl to not continue opening and closing the vial (from this point of view, the masking pens are incredibly comfortable). Sometimes it is necessary to dilute the liquid, which could be excessively thick slightly.
Among the most common mistakes in using masking liquid is to use one of your “good” paintbrushes to distribute it on the sheet. But, of course, it should never do without compromising the health of that brush drastically. Better to use old brushes and close to retirement, or maybe wooden sticks or old exhausted pens.
The liquid must always spread on dry paper – any humidity would glue it to the sheet, making it impossible to remove it at the end of the job – and then you will have to wait a few minutes before painting in its vicinity. Once the watercolor is finished, it is good to wait until everything is arid before removing this film. This action must be done gently, starting from the edges, with the fingertips or something well pointed and spotless (not to leave tracks right on the most beautiful).