This is the topic which began my whole series of Watercolor Techniques and Tips. I have had requests to share my technique for creating backgrounds such as in my painting "Sunny Trio" or "Lemon Tea", and so today I will attempt to explain how I go about creating a background as in Lemon Tea. Next week I will show you how I do what my daughter calls my "batik backgrounds" like you see in Sunny Trio.
First, different artists have differing ideas about whether to do a background before the rest of the painting, at the end of the painting, or somewhere in the middle. None is more right or wrong than the other. It is all a matter of personal preference.
For me, I tend to have at least one layer of color on the paper before I do my backgrounds. That way, the shapes and underpainting colors are established, and I can work around them. Then I adjust my colors in the shapes according to the background I have created.
Here is a painting that has some of the local color in place, and the shapes have been defined. You will also note that I have a thin layer of masking fluid on the edges. That is because the edge of the eggs will eventually be white against the very dark background.
The first step is to wet the background with clear water. As I am using 300 lb. paper, I really need to use a lot of water to get this wet enough to accept and move paint.
Here you can see how wet the paper is. Once you have your background wet, you need to wait for the shine to just begin to disappear.
As you can see, the shine is almost gone - the paper is beginning to dry.
This is the time you need to MOVE QUICKLY to get your colors down.
I use several colors in my background, moving from one color to another and back again as I go across the paper.
You can pick up your paper to blend the pigment or allow the water to move it so that it blends and forms those lovely transition colors.
The paint is down and now needs to dry. If you don't like what you have in your background, there are ways to go back in and change things... but that would be for another posting on backgrounds. :-)
If you have any questions for me, just email me: firstname.lastname@example.org