Before getting started with the painting today – I filmed a little clip of how I fold/cut/tear a full sheet of watercolor paper! I did that for Instagram recently, and even Arches asked if they could repost it, so, yeah – let’s do that here. I didn’t realize it was something folks didn’t know how to do.

Step 1: fold the sheet in half. Over and over. And over. You don’t need a bone folder or anything, the paper WILL tear easily once you get a good score going.


Then tear it – sideways, not upwards! That’ll give you the best deckled edge without the possibility of tearing into the paintable area. Do that again for each half and you end up with four quarter sheets! I’ll be painting in this lesson on an eighth of a sheet, so I folded one more time.

Tutorial: Watercoloring a peach rose (layering tips)

And now for the painting! This is part 1 of a 2 part series on layering vs glazing….and you can watch the layers develop. See photos below.

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!

First pass

The first wash is a light one – very very wet! The lighter you want areas of  your painting to remain, the lighter the wash. It’s ok to dab up excess color as needed. It’s even ok if there’s no white left. Here you can see the lightness of the first pass while adding the next one:

Second pass

Adding the next-to-the lightest colors happens in pass 2; below you see that work after it dries, with a few strokes of pass 3 for comparison: 

Third (+fourth!) pass

When I’m adding the darker colors, I like to work in some extra-darks while the third pass is still wet. It gives the ability to blend nicely.

Darker details

Since I find contrast irresistable….I had to add some deeper darks with just a tidge the darkest shadows. Can you see the difference it makes in creating depth?

And voilá! All done. Layers are your friend – and can really make a painting stronger and more vibrant, as well as have a lot more depth and dimension!

What questions do you have about layering?

I know that was one of the things I watched closely when going to in-person classes….how different artists apply color into wet paint or over dry. What would you like to know?


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  1. Chelsea Stipe

    I watched your video on YouTube for this peach rose several times. You are a great instructor! I wish you had posted your photo reference as well, so I could see it in comparison to what you were painting. I know it’s not about copying a subject, but I felt there was something lost for me in learning/understanding your technique because I didn’t have the photo to compare your color and paint choices. I came over here to your blog hoping to see the photo reference. Oh well, c’est la vie!

  2. Laura

    Breathtaking piece! Do you plan to put this one in your shop for purchase?

    • Sandy Allnock

      Yes I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I plan to add both roses before Fridays video

  3. Gloria Fry

    I am finding on a current painting I am doing that my new layer is lifting the layer beneath it. I am using Winsor & Newton watercolor paper. This is happening after allowing up to 24-48 hrs. of drying time. I don’t know what to do. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

    • Sandy Allnock

      Hi Gloria! A little lifting may happen but can be greatly limited by not scrubbing at all – just lay down a flat clean wash on top and don’t go back and forth with the brush. It took me a long time to learn I was just overdoing it – the pigment underneath was getting too disturbed and I needed to just let it be 🙂

  4. Gab

    This is stunning
    And thanks for the tips on watercolour paper tearing

  5. KarenL

    Wow!!! It’s gorgeous! Thank you very much for being so generous in sharing what you know. Can’t wait to give this a try.


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