Watercolor Basics 5: How to Wet Your Brush, Move Your Paint, and Clean Your Brush | Jessica Sanders | Skillshare

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Watercolor Basics 5: How to Wet Your Brush, Move Your Paint, and Clean Your Brush

teacher avatar Jessica Sanders, Artist | Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Wetting your Brush


    • 4.

      Pre-wet your Paint


    • 5.

      From Pan to Palette


    • 6.

      Thinning the Paint


    • 7.

      Cleaning your Brush


    • 8.

      Project & Thank you :)


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About This Class

Hi, I’m Jessica Sanders, a self-taught mixed media artist who loves exploring art and sharing it with you!

I am creating a series of ultra beginner mini classes to help you learn to paint with watercolor.  The skills I teach in these classes helped to put me on the fast-track to creating vibrant, loose, beautiful watercolor paintings like a pro!  And I believe they can do the same for you!

Each class is designed to teach 1 or 2 beginner skills of watercolor painting. I want to Keep It Super Simple - KISS, baby! - short, and easy to learn!

Watercolor Basics 5: Water, Brush, and Paints - Oh my!

In class 5, we will dive deep into some watercolor basics..

We will cover loading your brush with water, moving your paint from the pan, to the palette, to the paper, thinning your paint with water, and cleaning your brush using the 2 jar method.  We’re covering lots of skills, all in less than 20 minutes :)

Then it’s project time!  

Meet Your Teacher

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Jessica Sanders

Artist | Designer


Jessica Sanders

Artist, Instructor, Designer

Illustrated Journal: Fill a Sketchbook with Butterfly Inspired Art


Hello lovely, lovely creative friend!

My new class is up and going!  I hope you will join me as we go on a journey together, filling a journal with lovely butterfly inspired art.  I just added a new page spread, Explore Texture, which is covered in 15 bite size lessons (13-27).  

I can hardly wait to see your project!!

Happy Painting,



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Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome!: Hello. Welcome to my skill share class. I'm Jessica Sanders. Color me greedy to art dot com. So in this beginner watercolor class, we're going to dive deep into some basics, like loading your brush with water, moving the paint from your pan to your palate to your paper, and then we'll talk a little bit about finning, your pain and how that works. Then we'll talk about cleaning your brush, using the two char methods and how that allows you to get really clean color from your palate. This class is for the ultimate beginner or if you want to refresh your skills and, of course, will have a project at the end, so let's get started. 2. Supplies: For this class, you'll need water color paint, two drawers of water, a spray bottle of water, paintbrushes, a cloth for drying your brush and some watercolor paper. Let's get started. 3. Wetting your Brush: an important step in starting to paint with watercolor is toe wet your brush. We never really go with a dry brush into our paint. If you have pan pains, it won't work at all. If you have two paints, you'll get a really strong, dense mixture her rather glob faint. It's going to be too thick for to move, and it's really not going to be effective. So we always went our brush before we actually start to paint. Now, depending on your type of fresh, it may be easier or a little bit more challenging toe wet, so you see me often using this brush. This is a prison select brush. It's a mixed media brush. It works great for watercolor that you could use it for other mediums like acrylic. Also, it is a synthetic carrot brush, and this is the one I use most. So I will show you that in a minute, and then I have these other brushes. This is one of my new brushes. It's a Princeton Neptune. Since I liked the Princeton Select, I sort of did an upgrade to the Princeton Neptune thes air watercolor brushes specifically so they will actually hold and release more water, and this is a Princeton Neptune flat, and this is a lighter brush. So depending on the size and type of your brush, it's going to hold more or less water. And if you have a natural hair brush, it may hold even more water and maybe easier toe if you're struggling. When you first start painting with sort of a dry brush, I want to give you a tip. So first of all, you do not want to just dip your brush in the water. If you just dip your brush in the water, it's going to get water on the outside. But it doesn't really have water on the inside, so it's hard to show that with the camera. But basically your brushes fairly dry. I barely get any moisture on my hand just by dipping it in the water. Now there are times in watercolor when you want to dip your brush. But when you first start out with a painting, you don't want to just dip your brush it that's not going to wet your brush effectively. What you want to do is swirling around and then squeeze it and squeeze out the water and then swirl it around again and squeeze out the water notice. I'm giving a little bit more water. Now It's a little more GPC how wet my finger is compared to the first time I squeeze it and even 1/3 time and squeeze out the water. Now this is a technique that I learned from artist Stan Miller in how to wet Your brush is So I give him full credit, but I just want to share that with you. So now my brush is thoroughly wet and depending on which brush I use, it will hold more or less water. Now, the last time I swish it, I probably don't want to squeeze it out. Maybe just tap off the edge just a little like that. And now I have a thoroughly wet brush. Now let's do that with what more brush? So I'm going to swirl this around now, this one because it's a watercolor brush. Specifically, see how it's already dripping with water. When I swirled it, it just absorbed water a lot better. So see, you can get a lot more water out of that. Even the first time different and again. Now I have water running down the back of my hand. You can squeeze this way. Then it will just get straight into the jar. So now I have a nice wit brush for this watercolor brush and now a flat brush. In the end, this is also as specifically for watercolor. So what if I dip it quite a bit of water, but it's all on the outside, so squeeze it, swish it, pull it out. Do that two or three times. This is going to hold less water than a round brush. Now it's nice and wet. Now. You don't have to, like, specifically, get all of your brushes wet before you start painting. You can do that with each brush as you go. I just want to show you a method for getting your brushes wet. Now are I'm not going to demonstrate with the liner brush, but just because of the lack of Brazil's, you know it's going to be a lot less water. Now let's talk about moving paint to our palate with a wet brush 4. Pre-wet your Paint: Well, now that my brushes with you may be wondering, what about my paints? Their dry If you have the tubes that may be damp, but still, they're very dry. Recently, a student asked me if I Prewitt my paints in the pans before I started painting, and at that time my answer was no, I didn't do it, and I had several reasons. But I have since changed my mind about that. I found a lot of been fit in a lot of ease in pre wedding my paints while they're in the pan, and all you have to do that is simply use a Mr Bottle with water and spritz it just lightly damp will be fine, and that will start activating the paints. Now. If you don't have a spritzer bottle than what you can do is you dip your brush in the water and just drop some drops of water onto your pain. Simple enough right now. Let's move on to moving pigment from our pan to our palate. 5. From Pan to Palette: so now that are paints air with Let's talk about moving the paint from the pan to the palate. So as we've talked about, you don't want to start with a dry brush. So I'm going to swish my brush in the water and make sure it's nice and wet. And I've already squeezed it out a couple of times just to make sure that water is all the way in there. And then I just tap off the edge just a little that way. Don't have as much water, and then I'm just going to pick up a color. Let's pick up this nice, juicy green now Prewitt it like we just talked about, and you just dip your brush in and move it over to the palate and swirling around. And what happens is the brush releases the certain amount of paint onto the palette, and it makes it a little bit thirsty. So then when you move back to the color, it absorbs more, and in this way you'll get that thick consistency of color that we talked about in the earlier basics class, where we talked about the three consistencies of watercolor to achieve different values So if you see I have a nice thick mixture just by picking up that will puddle that's there in my paint and not dipping back in the water Instead, I didn't let my brush get a little thirsty by laying pigment on the palate, then went back and picked up a little born. And if you don't have a puddle in there, that's OK. You can still pick up a little bit more pigment, but if you see that it's not working, you can go back and dip your brush and pull it back out in. The brush will absorb water because it's already wet. It will absorb more water and late here. Or you can go from the dip to your pal. It's gonna release some water into I'm sorry from your dip to your pan, and it's going to release some of that water onto that paint, and you're going to be able to pick it up and release it back into your mixture. So that's a moving the paint from the pan to the palate. 6. Thinning the Paint: now what happens if you don't want it to be so thick? We talked about this in the other class, but I want to give a little bit of the detail here because what we need to do is to make this a less so pay. Let's see. Let's let's let's show how thick you know, pick it is here. This is what I would call thick mixture of paint. It's very it's very strong and color and more opaque. Then, when you add more water and all you do to thin, it is, you would dip your brush. You wouldn't need to swirl your brush. Just dip your brush. It's going to pick up that water. It's still probably too much. Tap it off and at it there. Now you're kind of pressing down your brush a little bit in the palate to release that water in that pigment and go back and get more. Dip it and add more, and you continue dipping and adding until you get the consistency of the paint that you want. I have a whole class on mixing different consistencies of paint thick, medium and thin, but you could see I think this is more transparent. Moves. Maurin. It's amore, loose consistency. I would call this a medium consistency. So in order to get even thinner mixture and more transparent and a lighter color or lighter tone, you're going to just keep dipping and adding more water, and you can get a really light color. Now I'm sort of making puddles on your paper. There are ways to avoid that, which I talked about in the class, about how much water is too much water, these air in my Siris of watercolor basis class, and you can check those out if you want to know more about that. I just wanted to show you the dipping. So we're swirling, were dipping and doing different things with our brush. Now let's talk about cleaning off our brush after we have used the pain 7. Cleaning your Brush: Now you've seen how to wet your brush, how to Prewett your paints in the pan, how to move pigment or paint from the pan to the palate. And now let's talk about cleaning our brush. Let me make sure I have pain in my brush. Okay, now, I've got a nice paintbrush here, as we've already painted some different consistencies here, and I have two drawers of water Now. This is completely personal preference. Some people use one some people use to. Some people even use three jars of water or more, but I want to show you just a technique for cleaning your brush so that you don't dirty up your colors now. Personally, I often just used one jar of water, and that's because I don't mind if my colors are mixing and mingling a little bit. I don't mind if their toned down a little, but if you want to keep the pure pigment colors from your watercolor pan, then what you want to do is use at least two jars. So what you can do is once you have painted your color swatch. So let's say, a painted a color swatch or a leaf or whatever you may want to paint here, let's pretend that something okay, then you're going to dip your brush in the first jar of water and swirling around. Now this is the jar that you've been using to grab more water to put in your pigment right so far, but we've only used one color, so as long as you're using one color, it works just fine. You won't get your colors mixed together, but let's say I've rinse this brush and then I go to my palette and I want to pick up the Jell O. Then I might end up with sort of a green color, slightly green. It's pretty clean. It's not bad, but it's probably not exactly the pure pigment. Oh, I can see now when I go from a distance a little bit of green that's in the Let me see if I can show you that really fast here. So this, instead of being like light, light yellow, it's got a hint of green. Let's let that drive and check it out in a minute. So instead of going from this green water back into my pate and possibly you getting the color mix there. I'm going to switch this around and sort of like, let it squeeze out on the side there and swish it around again. There we go. And then when it's mostly clean or it looks clean already, I'm going to dip it into this claim water. And if you notice it does not release any color into this second jar of water, see? Still nice, clear and clean. Nothing there at all. So now I know that I don't have any paint on my paintbrush because I've taken it from the first jar to the second drawer and swish it around and clean them. Remember, when you're cleaning your brush or getting the pain out of your brush, you want to use a swirling motion. So sometimes you may even use a figure eight motion with your hand in the jar to clean that paint out really well and get the water flowing. I tend to just swish it rather vigorously. You can hear it, brush that off and then go to my next one. And now I have pure clean water to mix with my next color. So what I want to do now is try that yellow again, but first already know that I have a little bit of green on that yellow. So what I'm going to do is clean it off with my brush. Simple enough, right? Swish it around in my first star, make sure it's nice and clean. A few dips, a few swishes and then to my clean water. There we go. No, no color there and then to my yellow, and then put it here on my palette. Now I think you can see quite easily that there's green in that yellow that is not in this yellow. So that is the benefit of using the two jaar method for cleaning your paintbrush. So let me paint a swatch. I'll move these stars out of the way. Let me paint a swatch of yellowed next to this yellow. Oh, yes, Look at the difference. Well, look at the difference. This is the dirty water mix. And this is the clean water mix. And I'm hoping that that shows on camera because it's very obvious that bit of green that is in that yellow to me right now. Okay, so now I need to get that yellow out of my brush. I guess what. I'm gonna go back to my jar of dirty water, swish it, wipe it, swish it, wipe it, swish it, wipe it and then back to my clean and again. There's no yellow released into this. It went all into. First, our nice, clean water. I could get a nice clean color that way. Now, the reason why people use three jars with the Maybe they have their cool colors in one jar , and they're warm colors in the next. Because complementary colors warm and cool colors, they will make your color gray as a result of mixing. So if you don't want a more muted tone or more great tone, may want to choose to go that route. Personally, I don't I feel the need to do that because my style is more, Liu said, mixing. But if you want really clean colors, then you could even use the three jaar method. So that's a little bit about cleaning your brush. So let's move on to talking about the project 8. Project & Thank you :): But thank you so much for joining me for this beginner watercolor class. I hope that I have explained a few things that maybe you had a little struggle with before . There tend to be some problems and issues in this area. And so I really wanted to just dive kind of deep into this, this brush and water and paint thing we've got going on here. Thank you so much for joining me. And as I said before, I have some classes that have to do with mixing different consistencies of water color paint and how much water is too much water in the water Color basics classes if you want to check those out. But for your project for this class, I would like for you to try just to do a few color swatches. So try to go through the process of wedding, your brush of not just dipping but swirling, squeezing out and really getting your brushed nice and wet pre wedding your palates. Just see how you like it. You may prefer to do it the other way, and that's okay, but just test it out and try it. So Prewett your paints and then practice picking up the paint and moving it to your palate and releasing it onto your palate by pressing down with your brush and create some color swatches. Try adding more or less water, and also try the to jar method and see if you can tell the difference between your colors with the dirty water or with the dirty clean water mix. That's if your project super simple. Keep that attitude of play and joy in experimenting while you're doing it. Don't get all caught up and being exactly right, and it's got to be perfect. It doesn't. It doesn't. This is for joy. This is for fun. This is for your enrichment of your soul, and I just really want to to enjoy this media. I love it so much, and I just wouldn't to see you love it, too. So don't don't sweat it. Just play with it. Have fun. Try out some color swatches and try out different ways of cleaning your brush and let me know how it goes and I'll see you in the project section, the discussion section, and if you don't mind, please leave a review because it really helps me to know what my students are enjoying helps other people to know that this class is helpful And it helps me to know what content you're enjoying. Eso I'll see you in the discussion. Let's chat about it below. I can't wait to see your projects. Thank you so much.