Adding Watercolor to Woodcut Prints

watchingflowersgrow5.57x4.5.4.15.300
Watching Flowers Grow 5.75×4.5 Woodcut with watercolor

Adding Watercolor to Woodcuts

Have you ever considered adding watercolor to your linocuts, and wood block prints? If you print in single colors, you can add full color to a block print after the ink dries. But it depends on the ink, so read on. See some examples of relief prints with watercolor added in this post, and this one.

water soluble printmaking ink
Read the details on the inks you plan to use before you add watercolor or wet media to the prints.

Not All Inks can be Painted

One thing to be aware of if you use water-washable inks. Some of them dry nice and fast but they will re-wet if you try to paint them with watercolors – like Speedball Relief ink.

I’ve had great experiences printing with Akua Intaglio inks (listed below), thickened just a bit with MagMix to print relief blocks. They dry quickly, and will not re-wet.

watchingflowersgrowprocess1
Carving the portrait from a block of sealed MDF board
a paint brush laying against a apper towel with watercolor that has seeped from the brush and bloomed all over the paper towel in purple and blue
Paper towels drink watercolor. Watercolor paper has sizing to hold watercolor in the place where you laid them down.

A Note about Absorption

Be sure to use printmaking paper that doesn’t have external sizing, as it will prohibit drying. Akua inks need to absorb into the paper to dry. Many watercolor papers have both internal and external sizing.

The sizing helps hold watercolors in place so they don’t bleed all over the cotton fibers. Imagine painting a watercolor on a paper towel. You’d have no control over the placement of your pigments, since they’d travel through the cotton fibers. Sizing in watercolor paper holds the cotton together and blocks the pigments from sinking into the pulp, so your colors are illuminated from underneath with that bright, untouched paper.

woodcut-portrait-inking
Ready to ink and print the portrait with non-toxic Akua inks

Hand Colored Printmaking

I hope you give hand coloring your woodblock prints a try. It’s a beautiful way to make each print in your edition even more unique and customized. You can change your colors and lean your palette in a variety of pigments appropriate for moods, or seasons.

If you have any questions about painting your prints with watercolor, please leave a note in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by today, and I’ll see you in the next post!

Belinda

P.S. As described in my last post, you can subscribe to get each new post as soon as it’s published here. It’s free.

woodcut-printmaking
Pulling the first print after a trip through the press in my studio
The woodblock print at the top of this post, painted with watercolor in high speed.

Printmaking Supplies

Check the links below for a few of the art supplies I use frequently so you can experiment in the studio too:

4 inch soft rubber brayer http://amzn.to/1vOHPzY
Artist Tape http://amzn.to/1QNWoJT
Foam/Gator Board support http://amzn.to/1QNVH3o
unmounted linoleum http://amzn.to/1zYtUp9
metal ruler with cork back http://amzn.to/1ATQx1f
assorted tip black & gray markers http://amzn.to/11USY59
drawing pencils http://amzn.to/1DgCVM7
bench hook & inking plate http://amzn.to/15zPU0j
non-skid http://amzn.to/1ggYcsv
flexcut micro set knives http://amzn.to/1xH7Egz
power grip carving knives http://amzn.to/1rvgb3W
bfk rives printmaking paper http://amzn.to/1yMFTtc
spatula for mixing/laying out ink http://amzn.to/1sevJsW
Akua Ink starter set http://amzn.to/1MXiA0J
Akua MagMix (modifier to thicken the ink) http://amzn.to/1MXiQNm
Akua Transparent Base http://amzn.to/1MXiLZR
storage jars for leftover ink http://amzn.to/1MXiTst
rubber gloves http://amzn.to/1bNmWvu
apron http://amzn.to/1fWXkIh
watercolors http://amzn.to/1MpkThN
Rosemary Sable Blend Brushes http://bit.ly/1CCxBXF

Art Reference Books

Colored Pencil Painting Bible http://amzn.to/1HZ9GhV Watercolor Painter’s Pocket Palette (great color mixing book) http://amzn.to/1TSFuwe Making Color Sing (great color mixing book) http://amzn.to/1KlFanX Painting the Things you Love (great watercolor glazing book) http://amzn.to/1KlFenX Breaking the Rules of Watercolor (older book, but still chock full of good lessons) http://amzn.to/1RSNuzG

Art Quote

Blessed is he who has learned to admire but not envy, to follow but not imitate, to praise but not flatter, and to lead but not manipulate.

William Arthur Ward

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8 Responses to Adding Watercolor to Woodcut Prints

  1. Gabrielle 22/08/2016 at 11:08 am #

    Gorgeous! It has a very delicate feel to it. I especially love your choice to have the image become the border at the bottom of the piece.

    Glad to see you are still working with the Akua inks and getting beautiful results. I’m about to place my first order – can’t wait to try them with wood/linocut!

    • Belinda DelPesco 23/08/2016 at 9:09 am #

      Hi Gabrielle, Thanks for the compliments. Have fun with the Akua inks… they are quite different from oil-based inks (consider ordering their MagMix to adjust viscosity), and will take some experimenting to get used to, but I think it’s well worth the testing and time, because they are lovely. (And non-toxic.) 🙂

  2. Jim Serrett 21/08/2016 at 5:41 am #

    Very sweet, have a great day!

  3. Cristiane Marino 19/08/2016 at 6:08 pm #

    Wow! So beautiful…..

  4. Sonia 19/08/2016 at 11:15 am #

    Delightful little print Belinda.

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