Pouring Watercolor Paint

Painting with watercolor involves so many wonderful techniques that I could spend all my days just watching paint flow in ribbons of colors on my paper. The translucency of the pigments lets the white of the paper shine through or when used as a glaze over a dry color allows you to see the glow from the color below. This is one of the reasons I fell in love with watercolor.

Today I decided to explore the technique of pouring watercolor paints. It’s quite simple, you mix a small amount of fresh squeezed pigment with water, mix until it’s completely dissolved and pour it onto your watercolor paper. Sounds easy right? Let me share a few tips so you can be successful when you’re pouring paint.

Start with a small amount of pigment in a tiny cup. The cup shouldn’t hold more than a few ounces of liquid. Always add the water after you squeeze in the pigment. If you try to add pigment to a small amount of water you may have to use way too much paint to get your desired value. If you add a little bit of water and stir well you can control the value level of the paint.  I use an eye dropper to dispense the water and add additional drops as needed. For a small 6″ x 9″ painting I use no more than a half ounce of mixed liquid paint. Keep a piece of scrap paper on hand to test the value. If too dark add more water if too light add more paint. Each time I mix paint to pour the value depends on my preference for that particular painting. For the flowers I painted today I wanted a light value so I used more water.


Here is my sketch and my red, yellow and blue pre-mixed liquid watercolor paint. 

Aureolin (Y) Crimson Lake (R) Cobalt (B)


Now I’ll have some fun and pour a small amount of paint onto my paper. As I distribute the paint I think of where I want the yellow and blue to mix into a green. And where I want the yellow and red to mix into an orange. I do not allow the lines of my drawing to restrict how I let the paints flow. This is a first wash and as in many of my washes I want the paint to act like watercolor and do it’s mingling with all the other colors. This is part of the joy I love while painting with watercolors. I will touch parts of it with a clean damp brush to push the paint to areas where I want to see the more color and I will splatter some additional paint to enhance the colors, still using only my 3 original colors.

You can achieve so many colors using only red, yellow & blue.


I wait for the paint to completely dry. I don’t use a blow dryer unless I want to push the pigment into other areas. I like to let the pigment settle on the paper as the water evaporates.

Pouring WC7_2-18b

If you have followed my blog in the past you already know how much I adore negative painting. Here is where I feel it is especially useful. I negative paint around the petal, leaf & stem shapes.  

Pouring WC7_2-18a

Please observe that if I create a beautiful wash filled with crisp colors that flow and have interest you do not need to do a tremendous amount of detail work to have a flower painting that’s fresh and feels spontaneous. I’m constantly aware of my edges while painting knowing I want a combination of both lost & found edges to add interest to my art.


Pouring WC7_2-18“Sunflower”


Pouring paint can be fun and will help you loosen up your painting style. Try this flower painting using the colors of your choice. Enjoy yourself and please share your results with me. 


Paint with Me



~ by Lorraine Rimmelin on July 6, 2018.

6 Responses to “Pouring Watercolor Paint”

  1. Love this. Will surely be trying. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Think Ill give it a go!

  3. Hi Deberah, have fun!

  4. Hi Jodi, Enjoy and let me know how it turns out.

  5. I have finally found an answer to this style…thank you…Will be trying it in the near future, I hope???

  6. Great! Have fun and let me know how this helps you.

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