Sunday, April 27, 2014

Artist Tip #27 - Fixing Tropical Anchorage

When I ruin one of my watercolor paintings with a bad passage, I usually just throw it in the circular file and paint it over again.  But it is possible to fix some pretty horrific problems if one is so inclined.

In this painting, Tropical Anchorage, I painted the boat hulls much too dark and opaque:

I decided to try removing the dark paint with Mr. Clean Original Magic Eraser.  This cleaning pad contains no chemicals, and does its work by a unique physical arrangement of its fibers.  It's important to use the ones labeled Original - the later, "improved" versions do contain chemical cleaners, and may not be good for your painting's long-term health.

The technique I use is to mask off the area where I want to remove the paint with artist's tape, a thick masking tape with less powerful adhesive so it pulls off easily without damaging the paper or paint beneath.  It's usually white.  I tear or cut the tape pieces to outline the offending area, and burnish down the inside edges to prevent water from seeping underneath the tape.  Then I dip a small piece of the Eraser in water, squeeze it out, and gently rub over the surface, picking up the paint.  I dry the area with a tissue and repeat, until I have removed all the paint.  Then I lift the tape, and Voilà  - an undamaged, unpainted surface where I can give it another try.

This is not a route to the very freshest-looking watercolor paintings, but if I have an otherwise good painting, sometimes I use this approach.  It's also occasionally helpful in my watercolor workshops to inhibit student suicide.  And it's fun!

This slide show shows the process:

Here is the result after repainting the hulls.  As of this post, the painting is still available for purchase - just click the image for more info or to buy:

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