Two great uses of lifting prep fluid and gum arabic.

1) To aid in lifting
2) They increase the brilliance of watercolours by preventing breakdown of paper fibres by water and therefore keeping the paint particles lying on the surface of the medium.

The first one I’ll deal with in a moment, because that is traditionally what most people would use it for! (clues in the word).   I am just as interested in the second point though, that of brilliance.

My watercolours often seem dull, no matter what technique of wet in wet, or thin translucent layers i did.  Then I stumbled across gum arabic, mixed at about 1 in 6 to 1 in 10 to water, then that mixed at 1 in 6 to the paint (tubes).

Nice, far more brilliant.

Then I found that using lift prep fluid helped too.  Basically the paint sits more on the paper.  Ever noticed how watercolours that dry on a ceramic dish look more brilliant than on the paper?  At first I followed the line that you did thin layers, no more than 3, because the light shone back through the paint off the white paper underneath, but that didn’t make sense.  how come tube paint or even pans looked more brilliant there than on the paper?  Or, like I said, on the ceramic plate it looks good.

It turns out that the flatter the paint can dry, the more light is reflected neatly, for want of a better word.  So the more textured the watercolour ground, the more light is scattered, and the more dull the image appears.  But I like texture!  and I like really heavy paper, which is textured.

Now, gum arabic and prep fluid are both used as ground bases to help with lifting.  Theory then suggests that both increase the amount of size on the paper.  So what happens if I tried various combinations?

You can use lifting prep fluid and gum arabic on the paper to aid lifting once the paint is dry.

I’ve noticed though that lifting prep fluid doesn’t always take you right back to the paper and you can still get staining.

i wondered what the comparison would be using a combination of one or two layers of prep fluid, and two layers of gum arabic, and a combination of both, with gum arabic forming the top layer.

first, some form of prep, gum arabic (GA) or lifting prep fluid (LP) creates a better sized ground since the paint doesn’t flow into the paper.  It tends to sit better.

once layer of either for paint laying is equal, but the gum arabic lifts off better.

2 layers of gum arabic is too shiny….like painting on glass!  No smooth strokes.

Lift prep as one layer is best for general still, but I notice that if you put one layer of lift prep, allow to dry, then a layer of GA, it will lift off almost 100%, allow repaint with dullness of colour! and lift off again!  Also, it really permits blending by rewetting after dry with no nasty stains.

I think general LP all over a painting to keep paints brilliance, but then in areas which will require lifting, heavy blending and re layering, GA over the top.  For example, where trees will fall in a foreground.

paint mixture is  1paint:1 part GA: 5 parts water.  Pale cadmium red.  Photos under incandescent light, adjusted before uploading to reduce yellow cast.  The bottom picture shows the best way ahead: layer of LP, then GA where extra lifting is needed.

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