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  • Writer's pictureRobert Hopkins

When to use a humidifier while painting.

I've been grappling with the challenge of achieving and maintaining the correct levels of moisture in my watercolor paper while working on my paintings. When aiming for soft edges, the paper ideally needs to be between 30% and 80% wet. Too much water can cause excessive diffusion of pigment, while too little results in overly distinct and sharp edges. It's a delicate balance to strike.


This delicate balance is crucial for achieving convincing skies, which often require a combination of both wet and dry areas. Foliage, too, can benefit from wet-on-wet applications. Softly blending the tops of trees can create the illusion of distance into the skyline, and the same technique can enhance the appearance of snow drifts. Applying blue on white paper and then immediately using a wet-clean brush on the top of the blue will diffuse the paint, giving a soft, realistic look to the brush strokes.


In my recent painting, I experimented with a newly purchased humidifier positioned on the top right corner of my painting desk. Directing the stream of moist air onto the palette and painting significantly extended the "moist" lifespan of the artwork as I worked. One drawback of winter painting is the low humidity in the air, causing paintings to dry more quickly than expected and making it challenging to achieve and maintain those desired soft edges.


Here is a good example of this painted by Javid Tabatabaei with a link to his YouTube video

The humidifier on my desk. This really helps keep the painting damp, longer:




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