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       "Charging a sedimentary color into
        a transparent, non-staining, color
        can give texture to your painting."


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    Demonstration of charging two colors

How to Charge Watercolors

  • Step-by-step tutorial on how to charge colors
  • Example of a finished charging of colors

Charging, or blending of colors, is a watercolor technique that allows you to mix directly on the surface of your watercolor paper, as opposed to pre-mixing them in your palette, or mixing tray. Charging of watercolors creates a smooth transition between two colors, a gradual color change without hard edges. Charging can be used to create the illusion of shadows and of three-dimensional form.

How to Charge Watercolors  -  Tutorial
  Let's start with two transparent, non-staining watercolors, New Gamboge and Permanent Rose.  
  • Make both puddles large enough so that you do not run out of watercolor.
  • Elevate the top of your board.
  • Draw several 4" h x 2" w (10.1cm h x 5.1cm w) rectangles on your Arches 300-lb. cold-press watercolor paper.

Step 1
begin with your first color and paint as far as you would like it to go
Fully load your watercolor brush with New Gamboge. Establish your watercolor bead and paint the top third of your rectangle. Make the bottom of your bead an irregular line, not straight across. Rinse out your brush and blot well.
Step 2
touch the brush to your bead with your second color
Now fully load your watercolor brush with Permanent Rose. Tilt your brush back in your hand and, starting on the right side, lightly touch the watercolor bead with the angled tip of your brush.
Step 3
paint to the left continuing to charge into your first color
Now lift your brush and let the watercolor release. There is no need to touch the watercolor paper with your brush.
Step 4
continue charging until you reach the bottom of your rectangle shape
Continue to lightly touch the watercolor bead and release more color, using a light, bouncing motion with your brush as you work your way across to the other side of the bead. Your new watercolor bead will now be orange and much larger than the first one. Paint with the orange watercolor bead until the bead gets smaller.
Step 5
with your brush, mop up any excess color
Rinse out your brush and blot well. Fully load your brush with Permanent Rose, and charge into the orange watercolor bead, using the same bouncing motion across the bead with your brush. Finish painting the rectangle with Permanent Rose. Mop up the excess color from your watercolor bead in the same manner as you would when painting a watercolor wash.

Here is what the finished charging looks like.
     finished painted sample of watercolor charging

See the smooth transition between the yellow and orange, and the orange and the pink?

personal note   The possibilities of what you can do with this technique are endless!

NEXT:   Charging Effects   

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