The Enemy . . .

This post got the most likes of any I have ever put on Instagram – I think because every watercolor painter knows this particular enemy . . ..

We dip our brushes in water constantly as we paint – to clean them, to pick up water for our paint mixes etc. Anytime the brush goes into the water above the bristles, and particularly above the ferrule, there is excess water coating the ferrule and handle, even if we shake it off or blot the bristles. It gathers into a nefarious drop that can do more harm to a painting than you would think such a tiny thing could do.

Often, we don’t even see the drop until we are on the way to paper with a nicely loaded brush. We don’t want to stop and deal with it, so we put it off. But, like many threats, this one is getting worse by the moment. The drop is actually growing by gathering water coming down the handle, and when it reaches critical mass, it will drop an your painting.

If it lands on a wet area, there is hope that you can fix the damage with some quick brush action. However, if it lands on a dry area, you have no chance. Even an immediate blotting will leave a light spot in your wash and attempts to fix that just lead you down the highway to watercolor hell. You know that highway, right?

So, is it worth it to stop and get rid of that drop as soon as you see it? Absolutely, no matter how much of a hurry you are in. The gamble just isn’t worth it.

Here’s a quote I made up . . .

Said the watercolor to the water, “Whither thou goest, I will go.”

This being the source of most of our watercolor challenges.



  1. Hi Jessica–I’ve just signed up for your blog and now I see that you’ve been blogging for five plus years. I want to eventually read everything you’ve written. Do you suggest beginning at the beginning or working my way through backwards?

  2. HI Mary Lou – 5 years just on this platform – almost 20 years all told!! I think the very best approach would be to use the Categories at the bottom of the sidebar. That way, you can start with the topics that interest you most. And thank you for this compliment!

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