Repairing an Unwanted Bloom

The easiest way to fix a bloom is to avoid making one. And the best way to avoid making one is to ignore those who speak ill of watching paint dry and baby-sit your painting as it dries. Until it’s dry, your painting can change and do some weird things. If you can see a bloom forming where you don’t want one, nip it in the bud by using your brush to pull the wetness and pigment around the perimeter of the area so it’s evenly wet.

Never leave a puddle unless you plan on a bloom. Blot puddles and excess liquid from the painting’s edges and especially table surfaces. You are in control of the painting. You can enjoy the surprises that blooms can deliver, or you can make even, smooth washes. You control the water so it will deliver the result that you want.

Blooms can be fun texture in the right place: trees, clouds, mountains, water, you name it. But sometimes a bloom happens where you don’t want it: on a face, in a smooth area, or some other surprise.

Depending on the pigment and paper, fixing blossoms may be easy or impossible.

You can try three possible solutions:

Add another layer of color: If the pigment is pale, another layer of paint may camouflage the blossom.

Try to lighten the blossom: Wet the entire area with clear water. Take a stiff paintbrush and nudge the offending area. Blot with a towel to lift the paint.

Scrub the area using a stiff brush – even a toothbrush: As a last resort, if you’re using 100 percent cotton rag paper, dampen the area with clear water. Let it soak a little. Gently take a toothbrush that you have designated to watercolor and scrub. When little paper bits start to pile up, stop. It’s possible to rub a hole in your paper, and if you’re using cheaper paper, you can rub a hole even quicker, so keep an eye on the paper. Cotton rag paper can take a lot of abuse, though, so if that’s what you’re using, try it.

Dealing with dry

Some techniques require wet paper, but for hard, crisp edges, you need drier paper and a drier brush. Of course, a dry brush in watercolor painting is a relative term because it’s watercolor and everything is wet. But having your sponge absorb most of the water from your brush before you dip it into paint lets you execute those very controlled, every-hair-on-the-dog type paintings for the control freak in you. To stay in control of your detail, stay dry.

To dry your brush, touch the base or heel of the hairs on the damp sponge beside your water container. This absorbs excess water from the brush but leaves pigment in the tip of the hairs to paint with. Choose a small brush when you want lots of detail and control.

If you want a hard edge, you must be patient. If one area of your paper is wet and you touch it with another wet, the wets will run into each other. Goodbye hard edge. Have patience, or use a blow-dryer to dry your painting so you can keep working.

And, speaking of dry, to test the paper to see if it’s dry yet, use the back of your hand to gently touch the surface of the paper. If it’s cool to the skin, the paper is still wet. Notice that I said the back of your hand. If you use the palm of your hand, the paper may feel dry before it really is dry. The palm of your hand has been used so much-burned, blistered, lotioned, and so on-that it’s no longer as sensitive as the back of your hand.

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