Lifting and scrubbing

Repairing watercolour mistakes can be difficult. I’ve never been very successful at scrubbing out huge areas of a painting. Frankly, I’d rather start the painting again on a clean sheet of paper. Tiny repairs, however, can be useful depending on the pigment you use. Take this sketch of my neighbour’s peonies as an example. I painted this yesterday, outside, in weather so cold I should have had gloves on. When I took it inside to dry (and to thaw out my frozen fingers) I realized that the shadows between the bricks were too dark (they advanced instead of receded). In an attempt to fix this, I took a old, dry brush (not a good sable one), dipped it in a bit of clean water and gently lifted those darks and blotted them dry with a tissue. Luckily the pigments I used weren’t staining, plus the Fluid paper I painted on is very good for lifting, so I was able to lighten those small areas significantly and visually push the brick wall backward. If you’ve never tried this, experiment on an old (an unsuccessful) painting. You’ll see different results depending on the paper and the pigments you’ve used. Liftable pigments like Cobalt Blue (which I used) will be easier to remove than staining ones like Phthalo Blue or Permanent Alizarin Crimson.



28 Comments on “Lifting and scrubbing”

  1. melinda says:

    which you had done a before and after


    • I wish I had too. I was on my way out the door when I painted it, rushing as usual. I fixed it and then realized I should have scanned it too. Next time!


      • before and afters are awesome, I do them once in a while but mostly I am so involved in what I’m doing I forget. But I’d have loved to see the before too. And it looks like you didn’t damage the paper?


  2. Jodi says:

    great job!


  3. Carol King says:

    Have you ever used a Mr. Clean magic eraser to lift out color?


  4. gaelle1947 says:

    Per Carol’s comment, I was also going to suggest this. Bought a few, and found that they were easy to cut into smaller shapes that could be useful to get into tiny sections. I’ve packed some in my watercolor sketching kit to try out. Also plan to experiment with these on mixed media pieces to lift out shapes. I’m thinking there must be some sort of bleaching agent in these sponges. Looking forward to some other comments about this product and thank you Shari for today theme!


  5. Norma Hyde says:

    hi Shari….I look forward to your post every day! You inspire me to “just do it”! On this painting I wondered if you painted the flowers first and then the brick background?




  6. Linda Murray says:

    I’m with Melinda. Would have loved to see the “before” picture. Thanks for all the helpful tips.


  7. TonyU says:

    Lovely. Bet you can’t wait for New York Botannical Gardens!


  8. TonyU says:

    Just go and enjoy it Shari. Suspect watercolour being what it is you’ll be happier with some than others … but remember most of us would count your rejects as our best ever.


  9. Judy Sopher says:

    This is just lovely. I have lifted paint at times but I have had the paper change enough that the next paint I put on didn’t look clean. I will also try the Mr. Clean magic eraser.

    We have loads of flowers in bloom . Its not cold but the wind is really strong. Maybe I’ll give it a try.


  10. monique says:

    Looks perfect to me:)

    Shari have you ever been to Sennelier in Paris?
    I just went and thought you would absolutely love it.


  11. Judith Cozon says:

    love your posts!


  12. Snehal Kank says:

    Very beautiful 👍🏼


  13. rosjenke says:

    I don’t think you can do an unsuccessful painting. I just love your way of relaxed and unfussy painting. Simply beautiful.


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