Spraying, Spattering, Stenciling, and Stamping

Two of the easiest and most used techniques are spray and spatter. You can spray and spatter plain water, masking fluid, or watercolor paint. You can also use stencils and stamps in your masterpieces. A stencil is usually made from paper and can be used to contain paint inside an area, or to protect the paper from paint where you don’t want it. A stamp is a tool that you can use to repeat a shape consistently.

Spraying your art out

You mostly use spray bottles with water, but you can also spray paint for interesting and useful effects.

The different types of spray bottles and their effects include:

Pump sprayer: Pump sprayers give an irregular spray pattern, which is exactly what watercolorists want at times. These bottles have the pump at the top, and you use your index finger to pull down against a spring to pump the liquid out of the bottle to spray. Remember washing windows with a similar bottle? When you use them, push halfway down to make the spray even sloppier. This looks good in backgrounds and foregrounds, and makes interesting watercolor texture.

You can simulate the same pattern by dipping your fingers in water and fast flicking them against the thumb and opening the fingers in a wave hello. When I can’t find the spray bottle, this digit-al technique works almost as well.

Trigger sprayer: Trigger sprayers are the squeeze triggers that release water in a strong stream, like a squirt gun. When you spray water against dry paint, it lifts the paint and makes a light streak. How handy to make a ray of light in the sky? I recommend you do this over the sink because it releases a bunch of water. Have a towel nearby to blot any areas of paint that may run.

Fine atomizer-type sprayer: These fine-mist small bottles are better to use with paint than water. Because of the small spray pattern, they act like a poor man’s airbrush. Spray around the edges of a painting for a vignette look. Darken an area quickly with a spray. You can find these bottles in the cosmetics area of a drug or department store, but art stores carry them too.

To make sprayable paint:

  1. Choose what type of spray bottle you want to use and fill it half full (or half empty, depending on your philosophy of life) with water.
  2. Add a 1-inch ribbon of paint from the tube.

Adjust the pigment-to-water ratio if you want a stronger or weaker color.

  1. Shake the bottle until the water and paint are mixed.

Mix up as many bottles as you want to have colors to spray. I like to have several colors available — red, yellow, and blue at least.

Spray one color and a different color next to it and see them mix and combine on the paper. There’s no end to experimenting with spray bottles.

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