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Did you know?
       "Sheen is the glare that
       water produces when
       reflected against light."


Home  Basics and Skills  Painting Terms - page one   Painting Terms - page two

samples of Sheen and Keep Moist

Watercolor Painting Terms -  page two

  • Sizing
  • Watercolor Bead
  • Controlled Wash
  • Uncontrolled Wash
  • Charging
  • Sheen/Keep Moist

As you become more familiar with these terms while painting, you'll be pleasantly surprised on how well you're developing your watercolor skills at the same time. Soon a simple "Fully Load Your Brush" will become second nature.


showing how to distribute sizing on watercolor paper

Sizing is a glue like substance that is applied by the manufacturer either to the surface or throughout the watercolor paper; it helps to slow down the complete absorption of watercolor and water, and prevents any unwanted spreading, allowing you time to paint on the surface and to achieve deep, rich colors with sharp, crisp edges.
  Since sizing is invisible to the eye, there is no way to tell if too much was applied or if it was evenly distributed across the watercolor paper, except after it has been painted on and allowed to dry. White flecks and unevenness, which are difficult to correct, will appear.

I recommend wetting the entire surface first, going back and forth across the watercolor paper with lots of cold water and a clean 2-inch (5.1cm) synthetic brush to redistribute the sizing. Then let the paper dry completely. A hand held hair dryer is a great tool to use to help speed up the drying process.

Watercolor Bead
creating a watercolor bead
The word bead that I use in the tutorials and projects refers to the watercolor bead, which is a continuous horizontal formation of droplets of watercolor or water deposited across an area on a sized sheet of watercolor paper while on a tilted surface.

Controlled Wash
example of painting a controlled wash
A controlled wash is the careful and even distribution of watercolor, as in a flat field wash, or watercolor and water as in a graded wash covering a large or small area. The artist is working with a continuous horizontal watercolor bead on a tilted surface.

Uncontrolled Wash
demonstration of an uncontrolled wash
This describes a more expressive and less controlled manner in which watercolor or water is applied to paper using a large, flat brush with varying brush strokes, on either a wet or dry surface.

Charge or Charging
demonstration of charging watercolors
This word describes how one wet watercolor reacts when another wet watercolor is painted next to it.

Sheen / Keep Moist
sample showing sheen on a just painted area
"Keep moist" means do not let the area you've just painted dry out. It needs to maintain a sheen. "Sheen" describes the glare that water produces when reflected against light. It tells you the degree of wetness of your watercolor on the paper.
sample showing sheen almost gone
The top photo shows the sheen on a freshly painted area; the photo below it shows the same painted area with the sheen almost gone.

NEXT:   The Color Wheel   

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