7 Tools for Texture in Watercolor

Creative, Sharp and Experimental Ways of Painting

Jaimie Cordero is a fearless artist. She builds drama in luminous tropical abstracts through creative compositions, sharp value contrasts and experimental color schemes. Here she shares her secrets and tools for applying color and capturing watercolor texture.

Watercolor texture with Jaimie Cordero

Palm Fronds by Jaimie Cordero, watercolor painting

Summer Wonder (watercolor on paper, 22×30) by Jaimie Cordero

Tools for Watercolor Texture

  • Small hardware-store paint texture rollers you can use for an overlay or as part of your underpainting
  • Homemade rubber stamps
  • Her collection of carved wooden fabric-printing stamps from India

    Exploring watercolor texture; Slumber Slide by Jaimie Cordero, watercolor painting

    Slumber Slide by Jaimie Cordero, watercolor painting

  • Small plastic spray bottles, for spraying pre-mixed color onto her painting
  • Toothbrush, for “spattering” paint
  • Kosher salt, to apply onto washes
  • Paper towels and shelf liners, to use as pouring filters

Must-Have Materials

  • To get started, Cordero uses Adobe Photoshop to edit her digital photographs and develop a concept for a new painting or series. Once the image has been finalized, she sketches it onto drawing paper.
  • For drawing, she prefers Faber-Castell GRIP 2001 HB pencils. These are triangular in shape and easy to grip. She recommends the Staedtler Mars white plastic eraser, which, she says, cleans up pencil and transfer paper smudges nicely.
  • With the drawing in good shape, Cordero makes a copy or an enlargement onto watercolor paper sized 5×7 or 8×10 inches. These copies serve as the template for pre-painting value studies and color scheme tests.
  • Using tracing paper or a sunny window, the artist then transfers her final drawing to watercolor paper with a fine-tip rolling pen. Cordero’s paper of choice for her final painting is 140-lb. 100-percent cotton rag cold-pressed watercolor paper by Arches or Winsor & Newton. She stretches and staples her paper to Gater Board, which, she finds, remains rigid and prevents warping.
  • Cordero loves the “brushless” look; she typically wets an area or shape before dropping color into it, allowing the pigment to take its own shape and form. The brushes she chooses—Silver Brush Black Velvet black squirrel-mix brushes—hold a great deal of water and promote the look she aims to achieve. She uses them in sizes 8, 10 and 12 (rounds); ¾-inch and 1-inch (flats); and the “cat’s tongue” variety, sized large. She uses Incredible White Mask liquid masking fluid to save white areas of the paper and a plastic concrete mixing tub to pour her base washes.
Untitled by Jaimie Cordero, watercolor painting

Untitled by Jaimie Cordero, watercolor painting

For the learning artist

If you want more painting demos and insight on watercolor texture as well as texture possibilities in pastel and oil, join Johannes Vloothuis for Paint Along: Enhance Your Painting with Texture. You’ll learn all the ways texture can add excitement and visual play to your work.

Even more

A version of this story first appeared in Watercolor Artist magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


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