Agate is a banded form of quartz with many beautiful colors and patterns. Watercolor serves as the perfect medium to capture its translucency and uniquely shaped form, as each layer of paint blends with the previous layer to form a beautiful and interesting piece of art.
There are various techniques used to paint agate, but here we share two different methods: the wet-on-wet technique and the lifting technique.
Things You Will Need
- Watercolor paints
- No. 12 round or No. 6 round paintbrush
- Cold-press watercolor paper
- Water basin
- Photo of agate slice for reference
- Paper towel
The paint colors used in this project are Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine and Ultramarine Violet.
Method 1: Wet-on-Wet
- Dip your wet No. 6 brush in Cobalt Blue and paint an irregular circle onto your watercolor paper.
- Rinse out your No. 6 brush and use water only to paint a line around the inside of the shape you just painted.
- While the paint is still wet, dip your No. 6 brush in French Ultramarine and paint over the water line, allowing the paint to "bleed."
- Rinse the brush again and paint yet another water line around the previously painted line.
- Dip your No. 6 brush in Cobalt Blue paint and paint a **thin line** over the water line.
- While the paint is still wet, you can manipulate the direction of the paint by tilting the paper in the direction you want the paint to travel and eventually accumulate. This method also creates more interesting lines and textures, as it allows the paint to spread and "bleed" organically.
- Continue to paint rings with water followed by rings with paint until you are satisfied with the amount of lines or bands on your agate slice. Leave the center of the painting blank.
- Dip your No. 6 brush in French Ultramarine and rinse off the paint. Paint an irregular spot in the center of the agate shape.
- While the paint is still wet, dip your brush in Cobalt Blue and dab a dot inside the previously painted spot. Retouch any areas that might need retouching. Allow the paint to dry.
- Once the paint is dry, take your No. 6 brush and dip it in the Cobalt Blue paint. Using the tip of your brush, lightly paint around the shape to create a darker, defined line. Go back and retouch or define any other lines if desired.
When painting, a photo reference is a great tool to achieve more accuracy.
In order to paint thinner lines, hold your brush upright and press lightly over the paper. If you wish to create thicker lines, put a little more pressure on your brush as you paint.
Method 2: Lifting
- Dip your wet No. 12 round brush in Cobalt Blue, French Ultramarine and Ultramarine Violet, using a 1:1:1 ratio, or as desired. Paint an irregular circle onto your watercolor paper.
- While the paint is still wet, load your brush with water. Holding it over the center of your agate shape, allow water to drip right onto the middle of your shape.
- The water will dilute the paint as it touches the paper. Dry your brush with a paper towel.
- Take the tip of your dry No. 12 brush and absorb or lift more paint off the center of the paper by simply pressing the tip onto the paper. Take some paper towel and dry your brush again.
- Continue this "lifting" process until you're satisfied with the amount of paint removed.
- Optional: Take a piece of folded scrap paper and run it along and around the agate shape over the fresh paint.
- The paper will create lines or bands on the paint.
- Dip your wet No. 6 brush in Cobalt Blue and paint an irregular mark in the center of the agate shape.
- Dip your brush in Ultramarine Violet and dab the paint on top of the Cobalt Blue paint.
Use the same paint to define the outer edge of the agate slice as well.
- The beauty of these methods is that there is no right or wrong way to do it. In fact, the more you play with the paint, the more interesting textures you will create. Have fun and allow the paint to dictate the end result.