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Using Masking Fluid on a Watercolor Landscape - My Thoughts and Tips for you!


This is the second painting in my series called Peaceful Wanderings. These paintings are inspired by the peace and serenity found in the woods. I want to share with you those feelings of calmness and tranquility that come from the beautiful woods and streams that I often find along the hiking trail. This collection is still in progress, but you can sign up here to be notified when it comes out and get exclusive discount code for the collection.
But right now, let's get to the painting process!

This is my second time using masking fluid in a landscape and I'll say it was an integral part of this painting. I admit that I had these weird stigma associated with using masking fluid, like if I used it I was not as good of a watercolor artist or I wasn't staying true to the medium. But the truth is it is a great tool and as an artist you should be using the best tools at your disposal right? I think so. And I really enjoyed using it. It helped me to have much brighter details and also to create some really cool layered effects in the bushes and leaves.

At the beginning of each painting I create I first do some messy sketches to figure out the best composition. Here’s that sketch. I’ve already scanned it and printed it out to the size of the painting.

pencil sketch

My process for getting it ready for the watercolor paper is as follows
  1. Small messy sketch from photo
  2. Scan, enlarge and print at the right scale (11 x 14 for this one)
  3. Trace lightly onto watercolor paper
  4. Partially erase excess graphite

landscape sketch and cat

I use a light tablet to trace my sketch onto the watercolor paper. I sketch things very lightly and even erase partially with a kneaded eraser so that the pencil doesn’t smudge or show through the painting.

light pencil sketch

Let’s talk about masking fluid! If you’re not familiar with it masking fluid or frisket is a liquid latex used to mask certain sections of your painting from the paint so that they stay white. You can also apply the masking fluid on top of a painted area to keep it light but not white. I do both of those things in this painting.

masking fluid on paper

Things you should know about masking fluid (I used Grumbacher Miskit Frisket keep in mind that my tips may not pertain to all masking fluids)
  1. Stir it, don’t shake it. It can get weird and stringy if you shake it too much.
  2. Use dedicated brushes. If you’re not careful you may ruin the brush you are using. Even if you are careful it will not be the same afterward. I recommend using small stiff brushes if you are masking detailed areas as I was.
  3. When you are painting on the masking fluid think of it as if you are painting on white paint. Though the fluid is orange, when it’s removed you’ll get white
  4. Soften the edges after removing. Once you remove the frisket (I just use my finger to rub it off) you’ll have some pretty sharp edges. Do some light washes or just use clean water to touch up the edges a little if you want them to look more natural.

masking fluid

Here’s the first layer of the painting. When you paint the first layer you want to keep it simple and light. I wet large areas with my large quill brush loaded with clean water and just paint light washes of color.

first layer of paint

Here’s the next layer. I’m still wetting pretty big areas and doing wet-on-wet washes, but I’m starting to add texture and contrast by doing some wet-on-dry as you can see in the bushes near the water.

I kept the trees in the far background very light and not super saturated because to show *atmospheric perspective. In fact, I barely even touched the branches of the furthermost trees after the first wash I did there. 
*Atmospheric Perspective is the effect that the atmosphere has on how we see objects that are far away. Objects that are farther away are separated from us by a lot of air and that makes their colors less saturated, lighter and have softer edges. That’s my personal definition, if you want a dictionary definition you’ll want to Google it.

2nd layer

Here you can see how the leaves look after I’ve removed the frisket. I applied a few different layers of frisket. Some straight onto the paper, some after one wash of paint and some after another. So I have a few different tones of leaves and that effect would have been impossible without the frisket. You could still get a layered effect of course but you wouldn’t get those nice, sharp leaf shapes.

Masking fluid removed

Here it is after doing some more washes.

It’s almost finished now! Just gotta soften up the stream a bit.

layer 4 after masking fluid removed

nearly done

A little detail shot. You can see there are lots of layers built up there.

close up

All done!

finished

finished painting

Thank you so much for reading today's post, I hope you got a lot out of it, whether that be new information that you can use for your paintings, or inspiration to explore nature!

Sign up here to be notified when the painting, prints and stickers will be available for purchase! The reason this painting is not available right now is because I will be releasing the entire collection together. That way collectors can choose to buy multiple paintings together since I am painting these as a set.

The entire collection will be available here on April 28th

Watch the video on my YouTube Channel

 

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