1.  Can you provide me with more information of how you mask?
"Click" image to enlarge!
I, typically, first draw out my scene, directly on the watercolor paper, with .5mm "H" pencil lead.  While much of this pencil marking can be lifted, afterwards, with a kneaded eraser, I still use care not to draw too heavily.  I attempt to draw with very definite shapes, as apposed to "sketching" images.  This is essential so as to clearly define where and where not, masking fluid will be applied--I want a well defined line, not a "fuzzy line".

Using a Masking-Pik , I apply liquid masking fluid to the areas that I want left white (in the case shown below, the mountain snow).  In large areas, I use the Masking-Pik to apply the masking to the more intricate"Click" image to enlarge! outer perimeter of the shape, only.  The "insides" of these large shapes are then, later, filled in with a cheap, disposable paint brush (children's type).  Those of you who have worked with masking fluid know that it is notorious for drying on and, thus, destroying good paint brushes (so don't use a good one!).  Care should always be taken to assure that the masking is applied to very (did I say very, very) dry paper!  If the humidity is high and the paper contains any moisture, the masking may be drawn into the porous surface, causing tearing upon removal (not a good thing!).  During the humid summer months, I use a dehumidifier in my studio.

I am often asked, "how long can masking be left on paper?"  There is no definitive answer to this question, as there are so many variables: humidity, UV light exposure, paper type, masking brand, etc.  I have left my masking brand on for many weeks, without causing any harm to the underlying paper.  But, this was in a cool, dry, shaded storage area.  Not all masking brands are equal---indeed, there are only a few brands that I would ever consider using.  Naturally, the best of this small group is my own brand: Gary's Watercolor Masking Fluid.

Masking is not for everyone!  Indeed, it defies some of the "spontaneous" aspects of painting in watercolors.  Many painters are simply unwilling to allocate the long hours often needed for protecting shapes.  It certainly is not a fast method of painting.  But, there is a big payoff for this long prep process.  By controlling shapes, you can paint more freely on the non-masked areas.  Often, you can allow a wash of pigment to "do its own thing", literally painting itself.  The subtle blend of hues, on wet paper, is one of the most admired traits of watercolors.  Masking often allows you to permit more free blending on the paper, than you otherwise could.  So, you can be, arguably, tight and controlled on the masked shapes, but free and spontaneous on the non-masked areas.  The end result can be very interesting.     GS 


DVD-Winter's Light and DVD-Bryce Canyon Overlook and DVD-Gary Watercolor Basics provide the most "how to mask" info.



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