Julie Ann Karlsson | Luminescent Fish on Black Watercolor Ground

DANIEL SMITH’s assortment of Watercolor Grounds opens up a whole new realm of possibilities in watercolor!

Cover a sheet of watercolor paper with a coat of Mars Black Watercolor Ground and allow it to dry thoroughly. Or why not recycle a cast off watercolor and give new life to a sheet of used watercolor paper! One coat is usually enough to create a beautifully rich matte black, laying the foundation for some exciting watercolor painting! [TIPS about the Watercolor Grounds and How to Apply, please scroll down towards the bottom]

Coupled with paints from the DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Watercolor Collection, the effect is nearly magic on top of the new black surface! Add details created by laying down some plastic wrap into the wet paint while it dries to create “sea weed” and a little salt to create bubbles and life under the sea takes on a life of its own.

Painting over the Black Ground has an unusual “feel” which can be a hurdle for some traditional watercolorists to overcome. So put your usual watercolor painting mode on hold, and allow yourself to create a splash and have some fun! I promise you will be both amazed and intrigued by what the Luminescent Watercolor can do.

If you’ve never tried the Luminescent Watercolors before my suggestion is to try out a few for starters like: Iridescent Topaz, Duochrome Turquoise, Iridescent Russet, Interference Blue, Pearlescent Shimmer and Interference Gold, and throw in a little Chinese White for good measure to create your own underwater scene.


Butterfly Fish by Julie Karlsson
DANIEL SMITH Luminescent Watercolors display color shifts which are found in nature. The Luminescent colors shimmer and fluctuate between slightly different nuances as they catch the light from different angles. Capturing those nuances in photos is not possible in a single photo, but you can get an idea of the color shifts by taking photos from different angles like I have of the Butterfly Fish painting, in photo 1 and photo 2.

I actually think DANIEL SMITH Watercolors should come with warning labels: “these paints are highly addictive!”

-Julie Karlsson

DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Grounds:

  • Archival and acid free
  • Creates a soft, absorbent surface similar to cold press watercolor paper
  • Excellent surface for all watercolors
  • The Watercolor Ground surface holds up to vigorous scrubbing without any damage
  • Heavily pigmented with a thick, brushable consistency
  • Easy Application
  • Repair and rescue paintings
  • Transparent watercolors can now be shown on any surface
  • Frame without Glass
  • Fantastic for multi-media work—combine with decorative paper, acrylics, pastel, colored pencil, pen and ink, stamps, collage and much more
  • Available in 6 colors: Titanium White, Pearlescent White, Iridescent Gold, Buff Titanium, Mars Black and Transparent
  • Nothing else like it on the market.

Tips for using DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Grounds

Preparation
Absorbent or semi-absorbent surfaces require no special prep beyond making sure the surface is clean before brushing on DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground. These include paper, canvas and other fabrics, wood, plaster, shells and hardboard. Non-absorbent surfaces such as metal, plastic or glass should be lightly abraded with sandpaper or steel wool before brushing on the Watercolor Ground.

Application
We recommend using Watercolor Ground straight from the container. It has a thick, brushable consistency. Use a soft-haired synthetic brush, foam brush or foam roller for a smoother finish, or a hog bristle brush for a more textured finish. The ground is highly pigmented so one coat will cover most surfaces; very absorbent surfaces such as unfinished softwood may require two coats, please allow the first coat to cure before adding the second. Wash brushes immediately after use and do not use your good brushes!
TIP – when using the Watercolor Ground to Rescue a Painting, thin some Watercolor Ground in a small dish with up to 10% of water and use a soft brush like a hake brush.

Curing
Let Watercolor Ground dry and cure for at least 24 hours. This allows it to attain the right degree of absorption.
Painting DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground works beautifully with watercolors and thinned acrylics. Because it creates a surface more absorbent than paper, you will want to use less water with your paint. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Finishing
As with all watercolors, your work on DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground will need to be fixed if it will not be framed behind glass. GOLDEN Archival Aerosol MSA Varnish with UVLS is an excellent spray varnish that will protect your work on any surface. Use it at room temperature in a well-ventilated area and follow the directions on the canister.