Lifting 10 Different Techniques to find the White of your Paper …
Restore the White of your Paper
Alternative Techniques to Lift an avoid use of Drawing Gum
White in watercolor is paper! Yes there are white Zinc or Titanium. The first is often called Chinese white and is semi opaque, the titanium is opaque.
The alternatives to putting a little touch of white is the use of white gouache (practiced by great artists like Alvaro Castagnet and Joseph Zbuvick ...), or felts and white gel pens. Otherwise, there is drawing gum ... practical, but aggressive for brushes and unfortunately not always effective ... How many watercolors have been damaged by this product, impossible to remove or carried a layer of paper. It also creates very marked edges that aren’t very natural.
Sorry, I did not mentioned the use of masking film used by many artists in airbrushing, but cutting it on paper leaves traces and is therefore quite complicated to implement for a watercolor artist. In addition, given the texture of the paper, there are often infiltrations under the film). Why use these techniques which are rather multi-media and not to use the technique of lifting and opening the whites ? Because most of the cotton papers do not lift well!
This is the reason why, during workshops, many French artists recommend the using of cellulose or pulp paper and in particular Montval de Canson. But cellulose papers do not support intensive rubbing. After some friction, not even very strong, the paper breaks down and leaves small pellets on the surface. It is because of the strong sizing inside and outside that enables the pigments to be removed more easily. Cotton fibers are wider and longer and do not need as strong sizing as cellulose paper does (also called wood or pulp paper ...). As a result, I started looking to improve the lifting technique.
There are different paths to explore;
- Additives used in watercolor painting; Beef gall and gum arabic
- Commercial additives; I selected 3 brands Schmincke, Winsor & Newton and QOR by Golden.
- The sizing additive of the paper gelatin ...
First I applied the different products on the papers. I let them dry and waited for 24 hours
Then I painted 10 different boxes with 2 hues:
- I used Lukas French Ultramarine Blue, which is a moderate tinting shade
- Blue Phtalo Blue Green Shade by Jackson’s a very tinting hue (My brushes remember ...).
I applied these different techniques on a fine grain Arches paper (100% cotton) and Montval de Canson (100% Cellulose).
After having painted the papers, I let them rest for a day before starting the repents.
Other commercial lifting aids used in this comparison
I explain the 10 different techniques used:
- Without additives, painted with a fluid paint on the paper
- The box was prepared by applying pure liquid gum arabic (Jackson's), then I let it dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- The box was prepared by applying gum arabic diluted with water (50/50), then I allowed to dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- This box has been prepared by applying with a brush the Oxgall, then I let it dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- This box was prepared by applying with a brush a 2% dilution of edible gelatine (powdered, but you can also use leaves), then I allowed to dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- The sixth box has been prepared (brushed with pure liquid) with Schmincke's Aqua Lift Off Medium additive. Then I let it dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- The seventh box has been prepared (painted with a brush with pure liquid) with the Lifting Preparation additive of Winsor & Newton. Then I let it dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- The eight box has been prepared (painted with a brush with pure liquid) with the Lift Aid additive by QOR by Golden. Then I let it dry for 24 hours before applying the paint.
- No preparation for the ninth box, here I mixed the paint with gum arabic in a separate jar of my pallet to avoid contamination.
- No preparation either for the tenth box, here I mixed the paint with Ox gall in a pot, separated from my palette to avoid contamination.
Here is an overview of the application of different techniques on Canson Montval Paper 100% cellulose: first applied before lifting with a fairly stiff wet brush. Second, the lifting applied.
Here is an overview of the application of different techniques on ARCHES paper cold pressed 300g 100% cotton: first all washes applied before lifting with a rather stiff brush. Second, the lifting executed.
So I'm going to compare the different methods:
1. Painting on paper without additives
Here we clearly see that the Montval withdrawals are much more pronounced than on the Arches.
The tinting shade "Blue Phtalo" can be removed only slightly on Arches, while on the Montval we clearly see the small pieces of paper that are removed after the passage of a hard brush.
Also, note the difference between the two papers ... On Arches the washes are much more uniform and we can see much better the delicate granulation of the ultramarine.
On the Montval the painting diffuses unevenly (painted wet on dry) and there is also the formation of back runs and blooms in Phtalo blue. That's a good reason to always opt for high-end paper!
2. Painting on an area previously painted with pure gum arabic
Layer applying of pure gum arabic liquid and drying before depositing the paint is not an ideal solution ...
Yes, we find almost the white of the paper after performing the repented, but this technique does not allow to obtain equal washes.
It’s very sticky also and hard to paint on it.It's better on the Arches, but a disaster on the Montval ... apart from wanting this effect of structure ...
3. Painting on an area previously painted with gum arabic diluted with water
The result of the wash is better, not excellent for Montval, but quite good on the Arches paper.
The liftings are very good and almost as successful as with pure gum arabic.
The washes on the Arches are a little more granulating than if one does not apply the underlayer of diluted gum arabic. But even very staining, Phtalo blue comes off almost completely.
4. Painting on an area previously painted with Ox Gall
Using an undercoat of pure ox gall, lifting is a little better than if the ox gall was not applied before.
On the Arches the lifting is still much better than without its application and we see that the wash is one of the most beautiful and equal ones. On the Montval we do not see too much difference with lifting on untreated paper, but the washes are more spreaded and equalized...
5. Paint on a Previously treated area with a 2% Gelatin dilution
Coated with a 2% dilution (2g per 100 ml of distilled water) the results are encouraging ...
On the Montval the application of the gelatinous solution slightly improves the lifting, finding the original papers whites completely. It also allows a more uniform wash with fewer irregularities.
The application on the Arches shows a much more pronounced lifting compared to the application without this dilution. But we can not find the original white.
What would be interesting is to soak his paper for about ten minutes in this solution to see the action. This is an ongoing test that I will add below shortly ...
6. Painting on a previously treated area with Schmincke Aqua Lift Off Medium
With this product, Aqua Lift OFF Schmincke offers an aqueous solution to be applied to areas that have to be worked by lifting.
The washes on this pre-treated layer show important marks and splashes on the Montval French ultramarine blue and a more regular wash on the Phtalo side.
On Arches the granulation of the ultramarine is accentuated, but the wash is less homogeneous. The results are excellent, on the Montval we find the whites, but on Arches, we still have traces of painting. Nevertheless a very good result on Arches, so difficult to lift.
7. Painting on a previously treated area with Winsor & Newton Lifting Preparation
With this product, Lifting Preparation, Winsor & Newton offers an aqueous solution to be applied to areas that must be worked by lifting.
The washes on this treated layer show little spots, but important blooms on the Montval ultramarine level, but also a wash, a little less regular, on the Phtalo side (This preparation is the one that allows the best uniform wash of the 3 tested preparations).
On Arches, the granulation of the ultramarine is a little accentuated, and the washes are very homogeneous compared to wash on Montval.
The results are very good, on the Montval we find almost whites, but on Arches, we still have traces of painting. On Arches, this preparation is the least active and leaves more residue on the paper after lifting, than the 2 competing brands.
8. Painting on an area previously treated with QOR Lift Aid
With this Lift Aid product, QOR offers an aqueous solution to be applied to areas that need to be worked by lifting.
The washes on this treated layer are very irregular and show a lot of spots, as well as important irregularities on the Montval.
On Arches, the granulation of the ultramarine is a little bit accentuated, and the washes are not very homogeneous.
The results are very good, on the Montval, where we find the white of the paper, and on Arches, we have the best result of the 3 products of lifting Aid.
On Arches, this preparation is the most active and leaves nearly no residue on the paper, after lifting.
Between the 3 products you have to make a choice;
Winsor & Newton produces the best washes, but is the worst at the lifting level,
QOR gives the best result for lifting, but the washes are very irregular.
Schmincke is between the two doing well at the wash level (A little below Winsor & Newton ) and very well at the lifting level (a little endorse of QOR), so Schmincke is the most homogeneous and my choice in general for larger areas. If it is used as drawing gum, I advise QOR.
9. Painted with paint diluted with gum arabic.
The use of gum arabic in the paint produces a surface gloss effect after drying.
The result is almost equal or better compared to the lifting aid preparations of the 3 manufacturers mentioned above.
In addition, the washes are more uniform and better compared to those executed with paint alone. We find the whites almost completely, but a little less with staining paints, even with a reputable paint impossible to lift like the Phtalo blue!
10. Painted with paint diluted with Ox Gall.
Here is no lifting improvement. It is nevertheless noted that the washes are the most beautiful of all the techniques used in this test.
Many colleagues told me to take Montval if you wanted to lift ... As this paper does not suit me (too many irregularities in the washes and I also found that the mixture on paper doesn’t work out so good .
Yes it is a paper easy to lift, like many cellulose papers have a strong externally and internal sizing (because pulp has small fibers compared to cotton), it dries quickly and regular washings are harder to apply.
As a result, I wanted to see if it was possible to achieve the same result with a 100% cotton paper. Since I do not like to use drawing gum (it has already ruined some of my watercolors and I do not like the too crisp edges ), I was also looking for a way to use the lifting technique to lift and "open the white of the paper", something very difficult or impossible to obtain with very staining paints ...
I'm happy with the results and I think for I will use soaking in a 2% gelatin bath and after that, if I really need more lifting force, I will paint with paint mixed with gum arabic.
The other techniques also have their advantages, but this is certainly the least expensive. But even if you choose one of these solutions, you have to do some tests on your own paper, as there are a lot of differences between 100% cotton papers... the sizing, its composition, and many other factors make the papers react differently.
By consulting my article on the 58 samples of painted paper, you can get an idea of what suits you best. This is the link.
If you have any other questions, proposals or remarks, do not hesitate to contact me.