Is it Spring Yet!? (Current WIP and Masking Fluid Tips)

You can see the yellow masking fluid, and how it’s protecting areas of my painting.
Hi friends!  Well after a long, cold winter, the weather started getting a bit warmer around here a couple weeks ago.  I thought spring was coming, and was ready for the jackets, warm sweaters and umbrellas that ensued.  But what did we get instead?  MORE FREAKING SNOW.  And it soooooo much colder now than I has been ALL WINTER!  Needless to say I’m a little upset.  Why can’t winter be one month long?  December…that’s a good winter.  In December I still love snow: it’s so pretty and fluffy, Christmas lights look cool glowing underneath it.  Perfect.  Then it can turn into Spring in January and life will be glorious 🙂

So in spite of this depressing weather, I needed some inspiration for my newest painting.  I decided to take all the things I love about Spring and turn them into a watercolour painting: the bright colours of the brave spring flowers,new baby animals (especially bunnies!), butterflies and those little white moths that fly around all spring long (giving everyone hope that warm weather is on the way!), and of course the dandelions that pop up all over the place, turning green boulevards into fields of bright yellow.


This new work is in watercolour, and I used a lot of masking fluid to get the effects that I wanted with it, so I thought I’d share some quick tips on using making fluid:


  • Always have a plan.  The main use of masking fluid is to protect the white areas of the paper for painting later or for keeping pure white as a highlight.  This means that you have to use masking fluid right at the beginning of your painting, so make sure you know all the spots where you want it! (Remember that you can add masking fluid on top of dry paint as well!)


  • Use an old brush or a colour shaper (or any other tool you want) dedicated to masking fluid only.  Especially brushes, they may be ruined, just make sure it’s one you can easily replace.  Nylon (synthetic) hair brushes are the best for this as they seem to repel the fluid a bit better than natural hair (and they’re cheaper!)


  • Don’t leave the bottle open during your entire painting process.  Pour some out into a container and close the bottle (you don’t want the stuff in the bottle to start setting on you!)


  • Don’t shake the bottle! This causes coagulated lumps and can leave a mess on your paper.


  • Apply the masking fluid to dry paper only! (If the paper is wet it’ll absorb the masking fluid, making it impossible to remove without damaging the paper)


  • Do not paint on your paper until the masking fluid is COMPLETELY dry (or the same thing will happen)


  • DO NOT, under any circumstance, BLOW DRY or use any heat on your painting while it has masking fluid on the paper!!  Some people like to use a blow dryer to speed the drying process of their watercolours, but you CANNOT do this if there’s masking fluid involved. The fluid will melt into your paper and will NOT be removable.  You will completely destroy your paper trying to get it off.  I learned this one the hard way, guys.  Patience is a virtue!


  • Remove the dry fluid GENTLY with your finger or rubber eraser, and once you have a little bit of the fluid collected, roll it into a ball and use it to rub the rest of the fluid to remove it easily (it likes to stick to itself more than to the surface of the paper)


  • Leave any excess masking fluid in your container and let it dry (even with the brush or colour shaper in the container).  Once dry it can be pulled out and easily removed from both the container and your brush, allowing you to reuse both  🙂


  • Soften your edges.  Masking fluid leaves harsh edges to your paint.  This can be great, but  if you want a softer look you can take a bit of water and gently wash over the edge, removing some of the watercolour and blending that sharp line.


  • Remove the masking fluid ASAP.  Don’t leave masking fluid on your paper for an extended period of time. The longer it’s on there the higher your chance of causing damage to your paper when you remove it.  I try to remove masking fluid within 1-2 days of applying it, if I can.

Well that’s it for now!  I hope these tips help you out!  Masking fluid can be an awesome tool to use in watercolour painting, but it can also be a source of headaches.  If you follow these tips you’ll be in good shape, and will hopefully avoid any masking fluid-related disaters!

Till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3



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