My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lesson 33 - Watercolor - Frisket and Painting the Sky

Last week, we put liquid frisket on the areas of the watercolor paper that we want to remain white. I also painted frisket along the mountain and sea beside it, so I can finish my sky strokes without worry of overlapping.

The sky is a big area, and since the paper will get wet, it will buckle. There's no way around that. Taping the paper helps, but you'll find that big areas with flat colors are difficult. I'm turning my board around so that the sky is closer to my hand. I'm also angling my drawing table slightly, so any excess water pools down.

We're ready to start painting. First off, we're going to paint 'Wet-on-Wet'. This technique is simply wetting the page with plain water first, then painting your color onto the wet surface. The reason we're using wet-on-wet is it's more forgiving on a large area. Dry paper sucks the paint right in and you end up with stroke marks that are next to impossible to get out.

Okay, get a large brush wet and begin stroking the plain water over the area you want to paint. The paper should be damp, but not soaking.

Dip your damp (but not dripping) paintbrush in your color and beginning at the outer edge of the paper make a stroke, then stroke up the page. The color will get lighter as you go.

This color is good, but too light. However this area is getting too wet. I don't want to put more on until it dries a bit or it can buckle too much and the color will pool and dry in the buckles.

I'm going to move over to the left and work this area. I've wet it down, but since it's a large area, my brush was pretty wet to cover the entire area. It's too wet, though, so I'm using a dry cloth to tap it and take out most of the moisture.

Alright, I'm ready to paint the larger area. I need my paint to be darker, stronger. The first stroke always looks terrifying.

You must move quickly here. Continue upward, going left and right, smoothing the color and spreading it upward. Again, it will get lighter as you go.

It's alright for your strokes to overlap onto the area that has frisket on it. It's very nice not to worry!

By the time I finish the left area, the right area is dry enough for another go-over. Still, when I'm done, both areas have some buckling. It will dry mostly flat, though. Here it is turned around:

I'm going to flip it around again, so I can remove the frisket with my specialized eraser (see lesson 32). I'm still leaving the frisket on over the mountains and ocean until I finish painting the clouds.

Ah, I love a nice white area! Next week, we'll paint all the tones and shadows into the clouds.

There are still some areas of the clouds that I want left white, so I've gone back in and painted more frisket over those areas:

Here is a close up.

All right, come back next week for the clouds.

And if you haven't yet, don't forget to enter the contest to win the 8x10 Giclee print of your choice from my website. Details here:

See you next week!


  1. It is so fascinating to me to watch step by step as your painting takes shape. You must have a vivid imagination to see the finished picture in the white, blank page.

    (Any reference to Mumford & Sons is purely coincidental.)

  2. Julie, art is so much like writing. It's fun to come up with an image/story, and then create it.

  3. That is so very cool. Watching you is like watching magic at work. :)

  4. Leisha, ha ha! It feels kind of like magic (when it's going well, that is). I just wish it would spread into all other areas of life, too.


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