To Mask or Not to Mask

I was once boldly criticised by a world renown artist for teaching my Students about Masking Fluid….. apparently I should have been teaching them brush control. (I do teach that too)

I rarely use masking fluid in my own work, as when working outside the moment is often lost waiting for it to dry and often I don’t require the hard edges achieved.  I do believe that it is a very useful tool and everyone should be informed of the tools available,  you are then able choose to utilise those you need to achieve the results you want.

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Seaspray Watercolour Demonstration on Canson 140lb Fontenay

The demonstration  painting Seaspray above is showing the application of Masking fluid, I find that students tend to fill in with masking rather than painting with it. The direction of your brush strokes are so important to give movement in your painting, I diluted the masking in water (this means you can be more refined with your marks) using a colourshaper I masked the edges, not the whole, of the upward spray, using upward marks, the marks became downwards on the falling spray and horizontal for the wash on the water.

Use a light touch when masking or you will emboss the paper making removal difficult due to the masking soaking into the paper. The masking should always be applied to dry paper and be removed once all the paper is dry or you will take the paper with you.


I have seen many people use their finger to rub the masking off, this is not too bad if you have clean hands but you do take the risk of rubbing dirt on to your lovingly executed work.  It is also tempting to pull one end of the masking and pull it off like melted mozzarella again you risk tearing the paper. I use a plastic eraser to gently rub the masking off.


Hickling Boat Sheds Watercolour on Saunders Waterford 140lb

Masking fluid was used on this Hickling Boat Shed demonstration to keep areas white or light including foreground grasses, boats masts & rigging, right side grass, mid-ground grasses and water ripples.

As part of English Tourism Week 2013 there is 50% off “Watercolour Weekend” 23-24March quote ETW2013 when booking

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