Painting Water with Watercolor

Painting Water with Watercolor

Recently I have been experimenting with how to paint water with watercolors. Oceans, ponds, fish tanks and snow. I’ve found that painting water using watercolor paints is like catching water in your hands. tricky! I have painted water with other mediums in the past, oils and acrylics, but I am exclusively working with watercolors using a variety of techniques and hopefully working toward a purely wet in wet technique.

NC SeaScape SmallDbl frm

Anyone who paints with watercolors knows that it’s harder to paint this way and very hard to do it in one sitting. Not that I did paint all of the artworks here in one shot. No, I came back and layered the details in a few stages, but I am still striving to complete my watercolors in less and less layers and put down what I’m trying to paint in one or two wet and watery sessions. Why am I doing this to myself? Several reasons; to challenge myself, to improve my skills and to change my detail centered habits into a looser style that feels freer.

Dusk_SeaScape_Watercolor_by_Sandra_Gale frame new

Recently, I have gradually stopped using mixed media like watercolor pencils and ink, aside from a bit of white gauche (which in my opinion is really opaque watercolor) because I’ve found that I just love the look of highly transparent and brightly pigmented washes better than opaque and overly detailed paintings.

Evening_Watch _By_Sandra_Gale_EverIris
Watercolor painting by STG using ayers of paints.

I still like to paint with detailed and varied methods, but I wanted to challenging myself and try to just wash and splash and de-construct a subject down to a simple clear and beautiful thing. Then push it even farther to a feeling or moment that inspires a feeling or a movement. At least for now. I reserve the right to change my mind and style (as I sometimes do) when I get bored, but this is where I’m going for now.

Wet in wet watercolor by STG of waves in a storm made in several layers and techniques

The watercolors below gradually got simpler as I went and my final version was a one sitting wet in wet wash that I really love.

Wet in Wet watercolor painting by STG created in 3 stages, background, mid ground, foreground.

I know it isn’t most people’s favorite (or so I’ve found from feedback) I still think it has the most energy, and pure feeling that I was looking for at last.  You can see the progression from the detailed and timely Koi painting at the top of the page, to the painting below that was a one painting session of pure joy.

On Violet Tides by STG – Original watercolor painting using one wet in wet wash.

Hope you like all of my painting water with water experiments and I’ll have more to come that I’m working on right now. Thanks for viewing my Blog and to see all of my work or to buy prints, you can go to my website at for more info


Sandra T. Gale/EverIris