Poured watercolor- basic explanation

I have been posting a images online of the “poured watercolor” process. Most people have never heard of pouring watercolor and I have been flooded with questions. Here is a basic rundown:

watercolor pouring, Linda Baker, Kathy George, watercolor techniques, Ryan Fox, Ryan Fox Painting

Fine art watercolor painting of saffron-robed monk standing on grounds of Wat in the city of Phnom Penh- Cambodia


1. Mask your whitest whites with masking fluid (liquid latex).
2. Wait for mask to dry.
3. Spray surface with water.
4. Pour/drip/squirt colors on top of wet surface.
5. Move colors around by lifting paper and letting gravity move the paint
6. Put paper down when you are happy with results. Let dry.
7. Repeat all the steps above.

Watercolor painter, Raleigh watercolor, Raleigh fine art, watercolor society, Watercolor Society of North Carolina

Fine art watercolor painting of woman counting prayer beads at Wat in the city of Yangoon (Rangoon)- Myanmar (Burma)


Remove masking fluid. Pray for good results.

Watercolor painting of gondola boats on Piazza San Marco at sunset in the medieval city of Venice- Italy

Watercolor painting of gondola boats on Piazza San Marco at sunset in the medieval city of Venice- Italy


Sounds complicated, right? Here is a step by step progression of a painting:

Cesky Krumlov01

(Mask highlights.  Pour light-mid values)

Cesky Krumlov02

(Mask sky area and additional areas of towers and foreground buildings)

Cesky Krumlov03

(Pour darks.  Remove masking)

Fun, huh?

Ryan Fox PWS, WSNC

Ryan Fox Painting

(919) 645-8345



Ryan Fox Painting on facebook


2 Responses to Poured watercolor- basic explanation

  1. Matthieu Kiriyama says:

    I’ve been looking to get into watercolors pouring lately. Your videos on Youtube (and your kind answer to my question over there) and this blog provided me the most helpful information I was able to find on internet. I just finished my first two paintings (postcard size for a first experiment) yesterday. And the results were incredibly disappointing; all the color of the first two under-layers (I did three values + white) was almost completely lifted when removing the masking fluid (Winsor & Newton), leaving nothing more than a ghost of the original washes.
    So I’ve search a bit more on internet but couldn’t find any solid information about what could have gone wrong or how to proceed in order to avoid that problem. I used good quality paint (Holbein), and let every layer of paint or masking fluid thoroughly dry before applying the next step. I just don’t understand. Have you ever experienced something similar?

    • admin says:


      Masking fluid will lift a little of color off because it is wet. However, I have found that in order to minimize the lifting, you must do several things:

      1. Your brush must be barely damp. If there is a lot of water on it when you add masking fluid, you will pull a lot of color off underneath.
      2. Different masking fluids will yield different results. I have not used the Winsor Newton version of masking fluid. When I need to cover large areas and do not want to lift off much color I use Grafix Incredible Mask. This latex is very thick and not very watery and typically pulls off less color underneath. However, it takes forever to dry- be prepared to wait a long time.

      Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *