Step 5 – Iris No. 9 Watercolor Demonstration

Not Getting The Results You Want?

It Could Be Your Brush.

I’m continuing to work large-to-small and light-to-dark throughout the painting. Here, I’m negative-painting a darker value onto a dry, initial wash in a small area. I’m using a sable brush that holds a generous amount of pigment with a nice point that allows me to work very small without having to take my brush off the paper to reload it with more pigment. The result is rich, saturated color.  See the tiny shapes being created?

At this point in a painting, I often see students reaching for the smallest rounds they have which seems logical. But a small brush isn’t able to hold a large pigment mixture.  What I see next, is the artist repeatedly taking the brush off of the paper, dipping it back into water, back into pigment, back into water, back onto paper, over and over and over which yields countless, dry, pale, labored, tiny stokes. The results are usually a tired, overworked painting and an artist that feels the same.

What’s An Artist To Do? Examine your brushes and give them a test drive. A sable or sable blend will hold more pigment. A full-bodied brush with a fine point is invaluable. Be sure to use the brush’s full potential. Let it totally soak up a rich pigment mixture and practice holding it at different angles while applying paint. I believe you will be surprised at how much intricate detail can be achieved and energized with the results 🙂

3 thoughts on “Step 5 – Iris No. 9 Watercolor Demonstration

  1. Do you think that my Loew-Cornell brushes will work? I do have trouble holding enough paint and it dries too quickly. Should I just use larger sizes than I think I need or switch to sable?

    Thanks for the info.

  2. Barb,

    I think your brushes are sable blends? Is that right? If so, try using a larger brush than you think you need.

    Also, use plenty of pigment. Try making up a larger mixture than you think you need.

    Thanks for your question.

    I hope this is helpful,


  3. Barb, Just visited your blog. The colors in your paintings are rich and saturated. Makes me think you are using enough pigment. Try adding more water and really filling your brush and use the whole body of the brush. But, I must say – your hydrangea is especially lovely! And the fireworks are great! Happy 4th! June

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