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Tutorials et artistic advices

Watercolor: Leaving white spaces

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The less saturated with color your watercolor painting is, the more it can breathe! This is why it is important to leave white spaces, that is, to set aside areas where the white of the paper shows.

What you need to know

  • White spaces are most often created with drawing gum.
  • You can also use stencils or adhesive masking paper to achieve surprising shapes.

 

Aquarelle - Les réserves à la gomme à masquer

1. White spaces made with drawing gum

 

Drawing gum is extremely practical, perfect for preserving details and narrow lines.

 

Apply drawing gum with a fine paint brush to the areas you want to preserve. Allow to dry, then paint your subject without worrying about the covered areas. When the paint is dry, erase the thin film of drawing gum so the white of the paper shows.

 

  • The best drawing gum is colored and is very useful because it shows covered areas clearly.
  • To create white spaces in the form of complex designs, use a pen instead of a paintbrush.

Note: Drawing gum is harmful to paintbrushes! Before applying it, coat your paintbrush bristles with liquid soap to protect them.

 

Aquarelle - Les réserves à la cire

2. Wax-based white spaces

 

Wax, while less precise than drawing gum, allows you to create original texture effects.

 

Draw a horizon line with a stick of wax. Then paint your landscape. Since wax rejects liquids naturally, paint is repelled, leaving a white edge.

  • Unlike drawing gum, wax does not get removed.

 

 

 

3. Gum arabic white spaces

 

Gum arabic is an additive that modifies the behavior of pigments: it allows you to add transparency to washes.

 

Add a few drops of gum arabic to a wash in a color of your choosing and cover the paper with it. Load a second paintbrush with pure water and dot the paper. Wait a few seconds then blot with a blotter. The white of the paper will show through the dots. 

 

Note: excess gum arabic can make the coat of paint brittle.

Suggested products

Canson® Fontenay®


See also

Watercolor: Creating bleeding
Réaliser des auréoles en aquarelle
You can also use bleeding to create pretty effects, such as a stormy sky or light reflecting on water.