How to Use Masking Fluid
Happy June! Chris and I are taking the first three weeks of this month off to spend with new baby Sully, but for this first Friday we are releasing one of our tutorials from Patreon. This gives you the chance to peek behind the Patreon curtain and see the type of bonus content that our channel patrons are getting access to every month.
We will be back the last Friday of the month with another pre-recorded video. But if you can't wait until then, there are more tutorials on Patreon. If you're interested in signing up, most of the content is just $2 USD a month! Check it out here. For now, enjoy this older tutorial that always gets great reviews.
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To demonstrate the masking fluid, I am painting a graphic watercolor floral that incorporates a shape or letter. I chose to use an S, and have printed it out so that I can trace it onto my watercolor paper. My regular trick for transferring onto watercolor paper is to cover the back of the print-out in graphite from a pencil, and after placing it over the watercolor paper, trace it with a sharp pencil or pen. This leaves you with a light pencil outline on your page.
I haven't used masking fluid on the channel much but it is a pretty inexpensive product you can buy at most art stores. It is a liquid latex fluid that will protect certain areas of your project or painting while you are working on it. Using a cheap brush I fill in the S and it leaves a rubbery substance on the page. Make sure you fill in your entire shape and go right to the edge.
While that dries I am mixing up my color palette, making sure I have a thoughtful color selection. Once I'm ready to go, I am just going to start painting flowers right from the edge of the S. It is quite easy, the flowers do not have to be perfect - some of mine are barely more than blobs. A lot of the ones that I am starting with, I start right in the middle. Instead of five petals on those dark pink ones I have three petals to create half a flower. The simple roses made of spirals are also great for filling in spaces and easy to do half. Similarly, the dark purple daisies fill in the gaps between the two. I also am starting to add in leaves right away in a dark burgundy-brown.
I am going around and around, adding flowers and color. As they start to dry I layer more flowers around them. If one is still wet you can give it 5-7 minutes before doing the flowers right next to it. If you have a letter like an S that has tight curves, you are probably going to want to put some color in there. It's not a real flower but will create that impression. Where you have more space you can create more realistic flowers or add more details.
It is up to you how far out you want to paint, you may just want to do a border around the letter or shape. I want mine to be a big, loud, floral design so I am going out a couple of inches on both sides of the letter. This also gives me more of a chance to paint.
As the flowers begin to dry I am layering in more of those dark leaves. They contrast really nicely with the light pinks, peaches, and yellows. Layering wet onto dry makes this easier as well, giving me lots of control. In the video you see me flip the painting upside down after I fill out the right hand side, so that I can keep painting on the right. Do whatever feels natural and makes things easiest for you. I want it to look fairly equal as a design, without one side being heavier, without going for perfect symmetry.
You can also use darker colors to add more details to the flowers. This will help turn those colorful blobs into flowers. The dotting in the middle creates stamens, and the shading on the spirals gives the look of layered petals. The hint of detail can really bring this piece to life.
After it dries completely, you just need to rub at the masking fluid and it comes right off. And, voila, you have a beautiful negative space area in the center. The nice bright white of the page comes through, creating a wonderful piece. Try out something new, and have fun!