Q: Why do you prefer painting wet on wet rather than letting one layer dry before painting another?
A: Generally I prefer wet on wet because I love how the edges of shapes swirl together, like the foliage of one tree combining in spots with the foliage of a tree behind it. That causes a striation or kaleidoscope of colors that makes that area more energized – even when the effect is small and subtle.
It’s especially useful when I’m working with thicker textured paint because I can pull a tree branch through a thick area of paint so they feel in harmony with one another, rather than adding a thin branch on top of a textured stroke. That method tends to break up the color because it only touches the tops of the texture and doesn’t get into the valleys.
If that happens and I don’t like the look of the broken color (branch) then I have to carefully try and paint into the crevices to make it look seamless, which is a lot more complicated than running a thin branch through wet paint like I do in this quick video from our recent Ultimate Paintbrush Experiment Blog:
When I’m not distracted, and get into a fully focused state, the painting will flow so quickly that all the elements develop together and a rich harmony of colors, textures, values and atmosphere combine to create a very naturalistic feeling.
If that focus is disrupted and I need to come back to dry layers, it’s much more difficult to get back into that original flow of ideas. If the painting was a struggle to begin with then that break isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if everything is progressing well I much prefer to keep painting while that focused state exists.
However, there are times when painting over dry layers is advantageous. When I’m working with thinner layers and using a lot of dry-brush strokes, it’s useful to have the under-layer dry. That helps the full force of the underlying color come through the dry-brush texture without disturbing or blending the colors together.
There is more I could discuss with this question – so, I think we’ll expound a bit more in a future blog post.
The important takeaway – there isn’t a best practice scenario – it depends on what we’re trying to achieve. That’s why it’s important to experiment and see what works best to create our vision.
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