© 2020 by Crestwood Day School

Learning the Technique of Dry Brush

November 7, 2016

 Each month, the teachers have been setting aside time to learn more about different aspects of the Charlotte Mason philosophy.  We've read and discussed things like narration, picture study, and notebooking.  This past month, we spent some time learning about a watercolor technique called "dry brush."  Dry brush is the technique of using a small amount of water on the brush.  We mainly use dry brush watercolor in our nature journals. 

I collected a variety of oak leaves I had found on a trip to Tennessee the previous weekend.  I thought they'd be perfect for us to study and paint. For this lesson, we needed: good watercolor paints (it's recommended you take the green out of the set since it is not a "true" green), brushes (we like thin, detail brushes), cups with water, paper towels to blot extra water, and a white surface to lay the leaf on (our tables provided this white background, but you can always just use white paper to see the colors of the object), and watercolor paper.    


Some tips we learned:

 - use yellow paint to outline your object first; it will be easy to lay other colors on top of the yellow

 - don't use the green in your paint set; mix your own green with blue and yellow, mixing other colors, like brown and orange

 - mix colors in the "lid" part of your paint set, adding water to thin out

 - use your paper towel a lot! It helps to continually blot off excess water, then go back to the paints to get more color

 - since your paper is not wet, it is easy to layer over what you have done, which is helpful if you want to change something

 - because you're not adding a lot of water onto the paints and paper, it does take time to finish one painting; it would be nice to start in one class session, and then revisit it the next day or week

Here are some helpful resources about Charlotte Mason and dry brush: 

- Simply Charlotte Mason Forum

- The Art of Keeping a Nature Journal

- a blog post from the Charlotte Mason Institute

- Dry Brush Watercolor Technique

- notes on Eve Anderson's Dry Brush Lesson


We hope you'll give this watercolor technique a try! It's such a beautiful way to slow down and observe God's creation, season to season.




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