Understanding Wet Versus Dry Layers


Understanding Wet Versus Dry Layers Lesson

Layers are the building blocks for the expressive artist. They’re basically how a painting is created and when done well can add some serious ‘pop’ to your artwork.

In this lesson I will introduce you to two types of layers:

  1. Dry-in-dry
  2. Wet-in-wet

The idea is you can stack layers on top of each other. This stacking can be done with any medium such as acrylics, inks, crayon, charcoal etc. The results you get from working in layers depends on how you are working them with either a ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ technique.

The focus for this lesson will be stacking wet layers using acrylics, crayons and inks.

Wet Demo

In this demo I illustrate how you can work a subject, in this case a building, wet-in-wet. So the layers are added on top of each. Note that these layers will blend because of the wet-in-wet technique.

  1. In the wet demo I start with a yellow layer mixture to create the shape of a building.
  2. I immediately add a layer of darker yellow to the shaded side and windows while the first layer is still wet.
  3. Blue crayon is added into the two wet layers.
  4. Then I added a feeling of light to the front of the building.
  5. Lastly, I added a layer of quinacridone magenta ink into the wet layers.

The result of working the layers wet-in-wet create a blended feel. This works just fine and certainly nothing wrong with building a painting based on this technique.

However the brushwork and crayon marks aren’t as crisp as they would be if you were working with the ‘dry’ technique which will be demonstrated in the next few lessons.

Part Two Lesson

In this lesson I will start to add layers to the ‘dry’ technique. Keep in mind this technique begins with a pr-painted building (layer one) which was allowed to dry before the lesson began.

Here are the steps I take in this lesson to add two layers.

  1. The second layer is added using a slightly darker yellow mixture of cadmium red and ultramarine blue.
  2. Once the shadow area is dry I add a few strokes of blue crayon. Note how the blue crayon marks are crisp and bold as opposed to the blended look in the ‘wet’ demo.

Understanding Wet Versus Dry Layers Image