March 28, 2012

Concentrated Watercolors

Concentrated watercolors:
Last night I was scanning through my copy of Journal Revolution when I came across a rather neat technique that I wanted to use.  I flipped to the back of the book to find a source for the product used in the book and promptly looked it up online.  Dr. PH Martin’s concentrated watercolors.  I was in love.  I wanted a set so badly.  I was not, however, in love with the price.  With a trip to Las Vegas fast approaching I could not justify spending $100+ on paint.  Heck, I can’t justify spending that on such a small supply of paint any day.   And so I fell asleep last night brainstorming ideas on how I could make my own set of concentrated watercolors.
This morning I woke up and got right to experimenting with materials.  It was finally in the kitchen that I found my source of colors.  I honestly can’t believe how simple it ended up being and what great results I got in the end.  I used Wilton’s gel food coloring as a base for my paints.  The colors are vibrant,  you can mix to your heart’s desire to achieve a wide array of colors and they are fairly inexpensive.  I had a starter pack and then some to work with from doing Birthday cakes for my nieces but each jar is only $1.50 at Wal-Mart.  Michael’s and Joann’s might have a better selection of colors but you will pay about $.50 more.  You don’t need a lot so each jar will go a long way.   Here is what I started with to make my paints:

I started by cutting an 9x12 piece of watercolor paper into several pieces to use as test pieces for the colors.   I then used a new, clean paintbrush to scoop out a tiny amount of food coloring into a small glass baby food jar.   If you plan on using the color gels for food again I would suggest toothpicks or popsicle sticks to scoop the coloring out with.  Next add a small amount of water to the jar.  Less is best for more vibrant colors.  I used about ½- 1 tsp of water depending on the amount of coloring in the jar.  You want to mix it up well.  It might take a min or so for the gel to dissolve completely in the water and it’s a little more difficult to tell if it’s all dissolved with the darker colors. But just stir away until you don’t find anymore clumps of gel.  Once it was well mixed I spritzed a piece of the watercolor paper with water until it was damp then used a medicine dropper to collect my paint and drop it on the damp paper.  I mixed several different colors to try.  The more water, the less vibrant the color.  The more soaked the water color paper is the better the drippy effect of the paint.  Once I was sure I was satisfied with how the paint turned out I added more color gel and water to each jar and closed them up tightly to use for future projects. 
Here is the finished product.  Two of my test papers.  I made red/pink, green, blue, yellow and turquoise.

There you go.  So simple, so inexpensive, and so vibrant.  Enjoy your new paints!

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