Tiny brushes and many layers
I typically use only color in a painting, which I mix with water, then apply to the paper layer by layer. Every brushstroke dries within thirty seconds, and cannot be removed once dry. Many brushes I use have only a dozen or so hairs, a size that allows for highly precise work more often found in oil paintings. The small detail and quick pace create some adrenaline filled - but tedious- painting sessions.
Preserving the white
Unlike in oil or acrylic painting, the color white is not used in watercolor. Light areas are non-painted areas where the original paper is still visible. An area is made darker by applying more paint; once that paint is on paper, nothing can be done to lighten it. This makes for a challenging medium, but one that glows with transparency and lightness when done well. Above, I am adding a light purple stripe onto an otherwise white plant stem - no margin for error there!
I rely heavily on photos to create paintings. Because I paint highly detailed pieces inspired by nature, I aim to showcase the incredible structure and intricacies found in the natural world. Above is an example of a cactus that inspired my work: can you tell which is the photo and which is my painting?