How I painted a blurred background in my painting 'The Look'

Meeta Dani

I first sketched the outlines of my subject using measurement technique directly on the watercolor paper (Arches Cold-Pressed 140#). Then I applied the masking  fluid on the boundaries of the subject. This way I can be more carefree while applying the wet-on-wet washes on the background. Once the masking fluid was totally dry I applied clear water on the background area using my 2 inch hake brush and then dropped milky consistency paints (Olive Green, Indigo, Quinacridone Gold, Brown Madder) and spread them gently using my round no.6 brush.

Once the background is completely dry I applied the 2nd layer of colors in a wet-on-wet manner. But this time I wet only selected area of paper and dropped milky consistency paint (Quinacridone Gold, Winsor Violet, Olive Green, Sapia, Translucent Orange, Indigo) using my round no.6 brush and let the mixing of paint happen on the paper. I took care to keep the edges smooth and avoided any hard lines and puddles.

The backgroud appeared patchy once the 2nd layer of paint was dry. So I applied a wet wash of clear water using a 2 inch hake brush with a little scrubbing at few places. This made the background look less patchy and gave it a more blurred look. Instead of clear water you can apply one or more layers of watery consistency paint of any transparent hue. Note: One layer must be completely dry before another layer of paint is applied over it. 

After the background was totally dry I applied milky consistency paint (Brown Madder, Olive Green, Quinacridone Gold, Indigo, Bright Violet, Curelean Blue) in wet-on-dry manner using my 2 inch hake brush. I applied pure hues and mixed them gently on the paper. Once the layer was totally dry, I applied a wet wash of clear water with a hake brush scrubbing gently at few areas to make the background look less patchy. 

I applied another layer of paint in wet-on-dry manner. Once the background was dry I applied a wet wash of clear water with a mild scrubbing. After this point it was difficult for me to judge if the background should be made further dark. So I removed the masking fluid and continued working on the main subject. 

Once the foreground was done I felt that the background should be made more dark to add contrast to the whole painting. So I added a layer of milky consistency paint (Brown Madder, Olive Green, Quinacridone Gold, Indigo, Bright Violet, Curelean Blue) in wet-on-wet manner using a hake brush by wetting selected areas of the background. This time I was extra careful as any mistake could have spoiled the whole painting.



  • Jean Howell on

    Thank you Meeta for sharing your beautiful painting. Your photos and explanations for each step are very helpful.

  • Rachel Edington on

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your technique.

  • Jodi Higgins on

    Thank you so much, I love reading other artist tips and processes. Your work is an inspiration. Again, I wish you great success on your new website. This work is gorgeous!


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