First you need either a single sheet of paper or a watercolor block. Directly before starting work, the paper is well dampened and stuck or, if necessary, pinned down. If you have a painting block you must thoroughly dampen the top sheet with a sponge cloth several times, though not so much that it forms uneven patches of wet, which would make it ripple. A single wetting is not enough. It takes quite a while for dry paper to soak up enough water; once it is soaked through it will hold the moisture for some time.
During this process, while the paper is relatively dry before another wetting, you can lay in a few pencil outlines of your intended picture. Wet paper will hardly take pencil at all. The lead should not be too soft-H is about right. The drawing should be done so lightly that the lines can be left without spoiling the effect of the finished painting. After the drawing, dampen the paper again and leave it to dry while you get the paints ready.
If you work with semipermanent pan colors, drop a little water onto each with a pipette so that the paint will come off more quickly later. Always keep two jars of water at hand: one for washing out the brushes and the other, rather smaller, filled with clear water for the pipette or for clean brushes. Ordinary tap water is often very hard and full of lime, which makes watercolors flake; for painting you should use boiled water, at least.
Right from the start get used to working only with thick brushes of the best quality. An average size is No.6, with which you can make the finest lines, if it can be drawn to a fine point when damp. This point, of course, wears away after a dozen pictures or so-according to size -but even then the brush is excellent for less fine work. Even when it has grown
quite blunt it will still take up a good quantity of paint, and this is important: in. watercolor painting the brush must always be full, whether you are doing fine detail or large surfaces.
To paint freely with watercolor you must expect a certain waste of paint; wash the color quickly and broadly onto the paper with a full brush. This will give enough color, probably too much. Rinse the brush thoroughly, press it out in an absorbent cloth, and use it to remove the excess from the wet painting. Do not color frugally and tediously; do not add a little again and again until the color is dark enough; it makes a wretched daub.
The paints are best kept in a large tin box, which can be bougnt for both pans and tubes. It is, of course, beneath
you to buy a box ready filled with paints. Select them to your taste according to what you now know about pigments. Tubes or pans-it is all one, but take note:
Pans are more economical, for you use only what you need, but it takes longer for pan colors to soften. To take out paint from the pan, use cheaper brushes or old blunted ones that are no longer fit for painting. Never use a dirty brush on a pan! You will never again get a really pure color, and that is one of the essenfials of watercolor. More than in any other technique muddy colors are to be avoided.
Tubes are simpler. You simply squeeze the quantity of paint required onto the tin palette and take from it for mixing or painting direct. Do not imagine that a collection of colors mixed in a disorderly smear will be an inspiration! If you want to experiment with mixtures it will perhaps help to have several palettes ready. Watercolor palettes are made of white enameled tin and have shallow hollows to hold the fluid paint. Generally, the lids of paint boxes are made to serve as palettes, but they can also be bought separately. It is not very practical to have several porcelain dishes, especially if working in the open.
If you use pans the palette needs only the largish hollows into which plenty of the liquid paint is placed and mixed. For tube colors there is a palette with a row of smaller hollows into which the contents of the tubes are squeezed in small quantities, and from there moved onto the larger hollows as the paint is required.
Next: Managing brushes and paper while painting