Friday, 31 May 2013

The advantages of only partially filling watercolour pans from tubes

Watercolour is available in tube form or in full or half pans. If you buy the filled pans, they will be filled to the top of the pan and most people dig a hole in the pan with their brush over time, damaging their brush and making it more difficult to pick up paint from the pan. I discussed this at a recent colour session with prolific urban sketcher Liz Steel, who said she goes through her sable brushes at an alarming rate, and will try my filling method. I'll share it here.

There are three main advantages of filling empty pans yourself from tubes of paint. The first is that you can leave some space in the pan to create washes of the single colour, and the second is that it makes picking up paint with the brush much simpler. The third is that you can buy tubes rather than filled pans, which may be more economical, and gives you the option of using the fresh paint from the tube if doing really large washes.

I fill pans at one end only, leaving some space at the other end and 'grading' the paint at an angle.

left - a whole pan filled as usual, right a whole pan filled at an angle.
You can see the difference between a 'normal' filled pan on the left and my angled pan on the right.
If you are right-handed, you can naturally pick up the paint with a swipe of the brush without damaging it. Please note also how helpful it is if you label your pans immediately with the colour, brand and pigment number. You really need all three pieces of information to know exactly what you are working with.
Note the natural angle of the brush for a right-hander.
If you  are left-handed, you will have the bulk of the paint on the left.

My palette. This is how a left-hander would use their paints.

I do the same with other forms of palettes. It can be a little fiddly allowing the paint to dry a bit then shaping it if necessary but it is worth it to save your brushes and making painting easier.
part of a palette partially filled for ease of use.
Happy painting!