This entry was originally posted on Sunday, March 18, 2012 

Today’s Sunday Secrets comes from Gillian of Vancouver, BC

Her question is:

Do you ever use salt, wax or alcohol in watercolour paintings? If so when and for what effects?


Yes, I use salt. I love it!

There are a couple of ways I use salt.

I have used it for texture in buildings to look like stucco or brick.

I will either use table or kosher salt.

I do this by adding the salt to the paint while it is very wet.

Then when dry, I scrape it off with a palette knife.

It will look like this:

I used it for the stucco behind my lantern in my painting, Chinatown Lantern

I also use salt in painting landscapes. It is great for stars, trees, sand, whatever.

If you wait for the paint to dry just a bit, and then put on the salt, it will look like this.

It creates more of a star pattern.

I used it in the foliage in the upper left hand corner of the painting as well as the waterfall of my painting, Englishman River Falls.


No I do not use wax but I have seen it used for texture.

It works well for rocks and rock walls.
Similar to the following:

I have also seen it used to create the effect of rocks or fish underwater.

White wax crayons can also be used instead of masking fluid to protect areas from paint.


Rubbing alcohol is also great for making texture.
I haven’t used it personally but have seen it used in the background of some great floral paintings.
The following is the effect of rubbing alcohol.

The rubbing alcohol acts like a bleach and will push pigment away (similar to water but with quicker and more effective results)

I think it would make a great dandelion painting or work well for a field of flowers.

Leslie Lambert

Author Leslie Lambert

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