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How to Make Watercolor Drips

Watercolor drip painting is an artistic technique of dripping watercolor paint onto paper or by dripping another liquid onto a watercolor painting. These drops and splatters in the paint become the graphic imagery in an otherwise abstract work.

Dripping watercolor paint on paper creates a splatter effect.

Things You Will Need

  • Newspapers
  • Art paper
  • Watercolor paints (pan or tubes)
  • Paint tray (for tubed paint)
  • Water
  • 2 water cups/containers
  • Paintbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab

Watercolor drip painting is an artistic technique of dripping watercolor paint onto paper or by dripping another liquid onto a watercolor painting.  These drops and splatters in the paint become the graphic imagery in an otherwise abstract work.

This style of watercolor painting usually contains a wide range of vivid colors.  You do not need fine art skills to employ this technique; it is suitable for children, as well as adults.

Accomplished watercolorists employ textural layering as they practice the technique and endeavor to achieve symbolic messages within their composition. 

  1. Lay newspapers on a work surface that is no higher than waist level.
  2. Lay a piece of thick art paper down. Use thick paper as it withstands saturation better than thin paper.
  3. Fill a small container with water. Open a pan of watercolors or squeeze watercolor paints into sections of a paint tray.
  4. Dip a paintbrush in water. Brush the water onto the area of the paper where you will drop the paint.
  5. Dip a paintbrush in water, then in a watercolor paint. Blend them to make an abundance of thin, colorful liquid on the bristles of the brush.
  6. Hold the brush above the paper. Let paint drip down onto the paper. Shake or tap the brush gently, to encourage dripping. The higher you hold the paintbrush above the paper, the bigger the resulting drip and splatter will be.
  7. Continue to mix and drip watercolor paint onto the paper. Rinse the brush before you switch colors, to avoid muddling the paint colors.
  8. Pour one or two tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in the second container. Dip the cotton swab in the alcohol. Allow the alcohol to drip onto the watercolor paint already on the paper. This will cause the drips to reverse the pigmentation, making the affected area appear lighter.
  9. Allow the painting one hour to dry.
  10. Tip

    Use brushes with more bristles than the standard, plastic paintbrush that comes with a pan of watercolors. The more bristles you have on the brush, the more paint you can hold and release at one time onto the paper.

Things You Will Need

  • Newspapers
  • Art paper
  • Watercolor paints (pan or tubes)
  • Paint tray (for tubed paint)
  • Water
  • 2 water cups/containers
  • Paintbrush
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton swab

Tip

  • Use brushes with more bristles than the standard, plastic paintbrush that comes with a pan of watercolors. The more bristles you have on the brush, the more paint you can hold and release at one time onto the paper.

About the Author

Grace Riley has been a writer and photographer since 2005, with work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as the "Arkansas Democrat-Gazette." She has also worked as a school teacher and in public relations and polling analysis for political campaigns. Riley holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in American studies, political science and history, all from the University of Arkansas.

Photo Credits

  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images
  • Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images