I received an email a while back from someone asking how I get my watercolour effects. Specifically, the granulation. Difficult one, as I have been mucking about with paint ever since my old dad got me my first basic Reeves box, when I was about four. So it's kind of second nature, precocious though that may sound. I break the 'rules' about mixing different kinds of paint (I do, frequently - gouache and watercolour) and I sometimes use old, and often dried up paints, frequently getting bits of dust in the wash. But somehow granulation always occurs in my washes, even though I hadn't heard of the term until a few years ago when someone told me I was doing it.
The main thing is, I watch my washes hawkishly, like a chef minds his (or her) sauce. This painting already has already two flimsy and dried washes. They go down loose, like liquid tissue paper...
...and when it is finished to my satisfaction, I get it levelled (or I might prop it a little, to push the darker paint into the shadow area) and watch it dry. It has to dry evenly, and naturally. No hairdryer. Ever. The upper photo shows the evaporating, dulling wash in the bottom right corner. This is what I watch, to check it is not drying too hard into the wash, which might create a tide mark. If it is going too fast, I might tip the board, or put a bit more water in, to coax and blend it into the existing one. It's a matter of squinting sideways and judgement. Then acting quickly and confidently if action needs taking.
The granulation; basically a speckledy finish. And below, just to the side of the window, the pigment in danger of drying into a slight trough. If it is left it will create a darker line - so I tilt the board gently this way and that, to even it out.
After about 40 minutes of babysitting it, I popped down to make some tea, and returned to a minor hiccup - the dark area had dried unevenly, resulting in a nasty little blotch.
Somewhat late for surgery, but some careful tweaking just about sorted it. Luckily it's in the shadow area where I will be putting in some pencil work, but I don't loose too much sleep over little mishaps - it's all part of the process. You can't teach this and the most disappointing answer I give - in reply to most things, not just painting - is it takes time, trial and error, which results in experience. Making mistakes and waiting are sometimes the best way to learn. Putting the time in can seem boring - but I don't have a magic, instant solution, and it works for me.