With glazing layers, my watercolor paper testing series continues!  This time it’s an outdoor plant – this time a Hawaiian Akia….and we’ll talk about glazing to build up color, especially on a paper like Stonehenge Aqua!

Tutorial: Glazing watercolor (wc paper test #3)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Layer colors to create variety in greens

In this painting with 5 passes, I started with yellow for the lights, added the 2nd light with a thin green. Followed up with Cascade for the blue leaves, green for the rest, and then went stronger with color at the end. It’s a way to slowly step up color; lots of times we fear going too dark, and knowing how to SIMPLY glaze – not scrubbing – can help adjust color in a controlled way.

Performance assessment

The Stonehenge Aqua hasn’t been my favorite paper; it has two distinct sides, which you can feel when touching it even if the surfaces look textured.

  1. Absorption – I think overabsorption may be what caused the gumming up of the pigments when I applied it heavily; when there’s flow on the surface, it doesn’t get weird and pilly.
  2. Layering  – worked much better! Lighter pigment to build up. But the paper can’t handle scrubbing, so keep to simpler brushstrokes.
  3. Edges — the surface texture did really well with that! Check a few of my recent paintings added to my fine art website that are on this paper.
  4. Overall — not bad for a $5 sheet, the texture is decent. It’ll depend on your painting style if this is the perfect paper for you; most of us don’t paint as simply as works best here, but I’m sure there’ll be some who work well with it!

Green Thumb Watercolor Sketches class

I’m not one with a green thumb (ACK! my poor plants!) – but I can celebrate all the diversity of plants by painting them! And in response to some requests for these sketches from this series to be made available for purchase, I turned it into an inexpensive course – that means everything will be together in one spot, rather than digging through my YT channel, blog, etc. Eventually there’ll be probably 10-12 lessons in the class, but right now there’s two in the Green Thumb Watercolor Sketches class.

Got plant ideas?

Feel free to add to my list of green plants to use for this further series! I’ve already got more on the list than I need but ya never know if I’ll find one extra inspiring. Leave a comment and let me know!


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  1. Betty Dickerson

    So which paper would you recommend, Sandy? I see people say to always go for 100% cotton, especially if you are a beginner. I do most of my work in sketchbooks though. Then I see other people do amazing work on Stillman and Birn sketchbooks and those are not 100% cotton. I do have a few sketchbooks where I have been frustrated because of the paper–the paint soaks in too quickly or dries too quickly, especially in the hot, humid Florida climate. I guess my goal is to create a memento of my days, though every once in a while I would like to try my hand at a painting to decorate my house or to tuck into a Get Well Card or something. I really enjoy your presence in the art world and appreciate your tutorials.

    • Sandy Allnock

      My favorite has been Arches for a long time—-these tests underway are to see if there’s anything better/more affordable.

      The problem with sketchbooks is that if anybody put good watercolor paper in them, they’d be so expensive nobody would buy them. Practicing on Sketchbook Paper isn’t going to teach you much about painting on good paper later because you’re learning skills to adapt to the Sketchbook paper, that probably won’t apply to good cotton paper.

      When I practice in my sketchbooks with not great papers, including Stillman and Birn, I’m practicing things like composition and color instead of Watercolor technique.


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