In the sample strip below, the first two mixtures of wet-in-wet color combined as expected then slid on the slick surface to one side of the puddle and dried, creating a darker area. The cobalt teal blue and viridian hue in the sample on the right stayed completely separate, even though both were very wet when I applied them side-by-side. Things aren't always predictable when painting on the Zeta surface with watercolor.
I was able to achieve a dry brush stroke with a 1/2" flat brush, but not with a round brush.
Hard edges are the norm with watercolors on Zeta paper. Softening them with water gives mixed results.
With some paints or colors, it softens beautifully, like with the burnt umber on the right, above. With others, like the ultramarine blue on the left, the paint doesn't want to move much when water is applied to an edge. On the rose violet sample in the center, the water flowed back into the pink paint, causing a bloom, rather than the paint moving out into the clear water. I usually like blooms in my watercolors, so that isn't a problem for me. If you want control on the Zeta paper, it's best to paint drier, with hard edges. If you like spontaneity and "happy accidents," use lots of paint and water and let them do their thing.
Dried paint is easily lifted, also. In the sample below, I used a dampened #4 round brush to lift the paint on the left side, then a 1/4" flat to lift the squares in the center and a dampened tissue to make the cloudlike shapes on the right. I also swiped across the right edge to show how you can soften an edge slightly after it's dried.
Watercolorists love Mr. Clean Magic Eraser pads for their ability to lift dried paint, and they perform as well on the Zeta paper as they do on traditional rag watercolor paper. For my sample, I first taped off the parts of the dried watercolor that I wanted to save, using painter's tape.
Then I wiped across the paper with a damp Magic Eraser pad. The green paint lifted very well, but I had a little "oops!" moment when I started to lift the painter's tape before the paper had dried. The tape stuck to the paper and began to tear it. When I saw what was happening, I stopped peeling up the tape and waited for everything to dry completely, then peeled up the tape from the dry paper without any problems at all.
The Magic Eraser also worked well at lightening the area on the right when I lightly stroked across it.
Scraping away wet paint with a tool is another way to recover the white of the paper. In the sample below I used a piece of plastic cut from an old credit card to scrape through the wet paint, pressing down firmly. The paint tended to seep back into the white area I had cleared away. I let the paint dry for a few minutes, then tried again on the right. The results were much better, with the paint scraping away cleanly on the smooth Zeta surface to reveal white paper.
I used an Xacto knife with #11 blade to scratch lines into wet paint in the first section of the sample below, giving a grass-like effect. Next, I tried the end of a paper clip, giving a slightly heavier line. After the paint dried, I made the last two sets of lines by scratching across the page with the Xacto knife. The vertical lines offer a great way to indicate light-colored weeds or branches on a dark background, while scraping horizontally across a page can add sparkling highlights to water.
A really cool technique that I should remember to use more often is sprinkling salt into wet watercolor paint. I love the texture it gives, and I think the results are even more pronounced on the Zeta paper than they usually are on textured watercolor paper.
|Left: chunky kosher salt, right: table salt|
Dropping clear water into wet or damp paint also gives a beautiful textured effect with amoeba-like shapes.
Spritzing alcohol into wet paint on Zeta paper gives a similar effect, but the droplet marks usually tend to be more rounded.
The surface feel of the Zeta sketchbook paper reminds me of hot press watercolor paper or Bristol paper, but whereas Bristol is not recommended for wet media, Zeta is made for multi-media use and performs beautifully with watercolor. It's fast becoming one of my favorite sketchbooks.
Watch for PART 3 in my next post, where I'll be spritzing, sprinkling, and spattering my way through more sketches in my Zeta sketchbook