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Don’t Knock It, Til You Try it!

“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure”. Mae West

Once upon a time, I decided I wanted to take my watercolors and inks off of paper, and figure out how the heck to add them to a canvas instead!

Researching like crazy, I came across this acrylic medium called ‘watercolor ground’. What started out as an experiment has now become one of the main tools in my art arsenal! Let me share with you the process so you can try it out for yourself!

Right now, I am working with Golden’s version of watercolor ground. It comes in a small tub, looks like white gesso, and does indeed dry white.

Supplies I used

Supplies needed :

  1. Golden Watercolor Ground (or a brand you prefer, Daniel Smith also makes a version)

  2. Flat Brush or Sponge Brush (I usually work with sponge brushes to lessen bristle marks)

  3. Stretched Canvas or Canvas Panel

Steps I Used :

  1. I actually mixed in a bit of water with the ground to thin it out – thin layers are better than one thick layer!

  2. With brush, apply one thin layer of ground and water to canvas in steady strokes.

  3. Allow first layer to dry.

  4. Apply another thin layer, once again, allowing it to dry.

  5. Apply one final layer, allowing it to fully dry.

  6. Now, canvas is prepped to hold watercolors, gouache, pen, and of course acrylic paints.

The pieces above were all worked onto a watercolor ground prepped canvas panel or stretched canvas. I used mixed media on all, including watercolors, pens, gouache, and some thinned out acrylics.


Once the watercolor is dry, there is no lifting – so if you need to lift for highlights like clouds, do so before it fully dries. It does take a little longer for the watercolors to dry than if you were painting on cotton paper, which I don’t mind. It is great, however if you are adding layers of color into your piece! If you are drawing in pen first, make sure it is fully dry before you add washes of watercolor – otherwise you will end up with ink bleeds into your color.

I have even tried the ‘wet on wet’ technique that many watercolorists use, and aside from a bit longer drying time, I was able to achieve that style as well with the watercolor ground.

And how do you protect the water media once it’s dry, you may ask? I actually have done a couple of things! I have used light sprays of golden uv varnish for a more glossy look, as well as the Krylon Clear UV spray – both worked well! Just remember to do those light bursts of spray 4 to 6 inches away from your artwork.

Needless to say, I will be purchasing more watercolor ground and using it for my style of artwork!

PS. There is also such a thing as designated/prepped ‘watercolor’ panels – but that will be a whole ‘nother post!

If you have any questions for me about using the watercolor ground or anything else, reach out to me on my website @!

Hope this helps a fellow artist out, and hope ya’ll have a great weekend!

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