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Submitted on
June 13
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PE: Watercolour and salt

Fri Jun 13, 2014, 1:54 PM
PE 2010 stamp by projecteducate

Watercolour and salt

Watercolour painting provides us with fantastic possibilities to create various textures. They can be achieved in many different ways with use of many different side components and equipment - in this article, I'll focus on salt textures. It usually takes time to get a handle of it - like everything else - but the outcome is definitely worth it.

Spiritual walk by Kafkami Les sept merles by Sieskja Searching for you by AuroraWienhold

Water and pigment

The three factors that determine the effects are the amount of water, amount of pigment and amount of salt, with the two first being the harder part. The more water you use, the more time it takes for the paint to dry and the more time the salt has to work - therefore the pigment will be pushed further away and you'll get bigger, paler spots between darker pigment borders. Less water will get you smaller, star-like bright spots - and salt won't have time to push the pigment too far before water dries, so you'll have untouched painted surfaces with the salty bright stains (or rather the opposite of stains) here or there.

+ The Woods on His Back + by ShePaintsWithBlood Lady Moth's Nighttime Stories by TrollGirl Serenity by Inku-inku

The salt itself

Kitchen salt is the most commonly used type and it works very well. How about experimenting a bit? Thick, coarse salt can make interesting effects when there's little water and lots of pigment. Coloured bathing salt, except behaving like the types used for food, will also leave colourful dots (and who doesn't like working with something that smells so nice). After your painting dries, carefully scrap the salt off the surface - you can use it again later, so simply stash it (I prefer keeping such salt in another box, not to mix it with the clean one).

Under the Wisteria by EccentricTeatime Spring Bluebird by MistiqueStudio Ignis by queerartist

Painting over

Surely the basic effects are very nice themselves, but it can get boring seeing the same white undergarments of your paper. Try layering a thin wash or two (here's a lovely article on watercolour washes), wait for them to dry and then put your salted layer over - and your paper's undergarments are now less shiny white and more colourful. You can also paint over the salt textures - caution recommended, pouring too much water may blur the previous effects even a lot.


Take a look at the pictures below - some depict the effects I've already mentioned, some show other variations.

1 by STelari 5 by STelari 6 by STelari
From left to right: very little water and lots of pigment with varied salt; 
little water and lots of pigment (two colours); 
a wee bit more water and lots of pigment.

7 by STelari 2 by STelari 4 by STelari
From left to right: medium water and medium pigment, paper surface at an angle;
medium water and more pigment, painted over a thin base layer;
lots of water + lots of pigment placed at selective spots.

3 by STelari 8 by STelari 9 by STelari
From left to right: medium water, medium pigment, thin brown layer selectively painted over;
pink coloured salt, a bit less water and medium pigment;
a bit less water with less pigment, painted over a light gradient base layer.

All the examples come from my own works. To view a whole painting, click on the picture to get to the link.


Written for Traditional Art Week at projecteducate.
Add a Comment:
Nokinami Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I tried it just now :love: Still waiting for it to dry, but it already looks very good ^^
Thanks! I'll definetely credit this :3
STelari Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
I'm glad to hear that! I hope you'll like the results (:
Nokinami Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's still drying 0.o How long does it usually take to dry?
STelari Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
The more water you use, the longer it takes. Also it depends on how thick paper you have. I like drawing another picture when I'm painting with watercolour, sometimes is takes a while to dry completely (:
Nokinami Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Mmh. Okay, I Guess it's okay then.
bear48 Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Professional
very  nice indeed
ShePaintsWithBlood Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2014   Traditional Artist
What an intriguing journal!  I love seeing all the different effects the salt has and how you have broken them down.  I am sure this is going to be most helpful.  It took me a long time to get the hang of the salt technique for some reason.  :blackrose:
STelari Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
It took me lots of time to figure it out as well, and it doesn't help how unexpected it seems. Thank you (:
burgonartworks Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks it was really informative. Your artwork is inspiring
Katara-Alchemist Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2014  Student General Artist
I've always loved salt and water colors. Recently discovered sugar can do some pretty cool stuff as well. It's a lot like salt in the way it behaves, but the effects are generally bigger.
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