• Daniel Smith granulating watercolours

    Granulating Watercolours & Acrylic Ink

    Welcome to my last blog of 2020 and what a year it has been!

    I started my blog back in the spring and those of you who have been following it will know that this year I’ve been enjoying experimenting and developing a looser style. I’m particularly interested in creating textures in my mixed media paintings using granulating watercolours and acrylic ink.

    Following my last blog it’s been wonderful to have received several questions asking about the techniques and materials I’ve been using in my looser style of work. So, for today’s blog I thought it might be nice for me to share with you a few of my current favourite watercolours and also to talk about creating texture using acrylic inks with granulation medium.

    I’ve also popped a short video onto my Youtube channel if you’d like to see how my current three favourite colours behave and also how I use granulation medium with acrylic inks.

    Three of my current favourite watercolours & ink with granulation medium.

    I’ve always been interested in the different properties of each of my watercolour paints. Knowing each of my colour’s characteristics helps me to decide which watercolours to choose for a particular painting. One of these characteristics is granulation, this is where the pigments settle on to the surface of the paper as it dries leaving a slightly mottled appearance.

    My current three favourite watercolours.

    Although I use a variety of brands of artist quality watercolours my current three favourites are all granulating colours by Daniel Smith. I’ve used all three lots throughout this year.

    The first watercolour I’d like to show you is ‘Raw Umber Violet’. It’s a wonderfully rich deep burgundy-brown semi-transparent granulating colour, it makes me think of chestnuts! I love the warmth of Raw Umber Violet both when used for beautifully rich darks and for soft diluted washes.

    Daniel Smith Raw Umber Violet Watercolour Study
    Raw Umber Violet

    If you would like to see more of my sketchbook studies please click here.

    My second is ‘Moonglow’. This transparent granulating violet is a three-pigment blend that separates beautifully as it dries. I love how this soft violet separates showing blue-greens and pinks within the violet wash. I use quite often in my loose florals as in ‘Fleeting Moment’ below, and I also find it great for landscape shadows.

    Fleeting moment - a watercolour and mixed media painting showing a butterfly resting on cow parsley flowers
    Fleeting Moment

    My favourite and final colour that I’d like to share with you is ‘Sodalite Genuine’. This is a semi-transparent inky colour from Daniel Smith’s PrimaTek range.  I love the texture it produces as the semi-precious stone granulates as it dries to a fantastic blue-black speckled appearance on a blue-grey wash. I’ve used this watercolour in a lot of my recent woodland series such as ‘Chestnut Wood’. This is definitely my favourite colour at the moment!

    Chestnut Wood - An atmospheric woodland scene in watercolour and mixed media
    Chestnut Wood

    More of my recent woodland series can be seen in my Land, Sea and Sky gallery by clicking here.

    Creating texture using granulation medium & acrylics inks

    The other technique that I’ve used in many of my watercolour & mixed media paintings over the years is using acrylic inks diluted with granulation medium. There are many brands of granulating mediums and inks, but I’ve always used Winsor & Newton’s granulation medium and Daler Rowney FW inks for this technique. Chestnut Wood (above) is an example of where I have used granulating watercolours and acrylic ink to create texture.

    Daniel Smith granulating watercolours and sepia ink

    I first make sure the paper is wet, this may be with just water, water along with the addition of granulation medium or a fluid watercolour wash, before adding the ink, otherwise it will stain! Once I’ve dropped the ink onto the wet surface, I dilute it with plenty of granulation medium. I find it useful to have a pipette full of granulation medium before I add the ink so that I can dilute it before it starts to stain the paper! This has an amazing effect of separating the ink producing a wonderful speckled effect.

    When running classes or workshops I always ask people to place ink bottles into a tray just in case any get knocked over, I should have followed my own advice!

    Split ink

    It would be great to hear if you have a favourite colour.

    I’ve popped some links to the Daniel Smith colours used in this blog below if they are of interest to you –




    I look forward to sharing more of my ideas, thoughts & inspirations with you next year.

    I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.


    4 thoughts on “Granulating Watercolours & Acrylic Ink

    1. Hello Ingrid

      I have just read your recent blog with great interest. Just love the three Daniel Smith colours you showcased and all that granulation. Thank you for sharing. I also looked through your lovely sketch book paintings – there were a few colours there that I really liked too. It was nice to see a few sketch book paintings I recognised from art class (bought back some distant memories)!

      Here’s hoping 2021 is much better! Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.


      1. Hi Anne,
        It’s great to hear from you, I pleased you have enjoyed the blog post. Thank you for your kind comments about my sketchbook studies, as you know I enjoy keeping a regular sketchbook.
        Let’s hope the situation allows me to start running classes and workshops again next year, it would be great to see you at one.

        Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year.


    2. Hi Ingrid,
      Your blog has set me off again! I have explored granulation a little bit and have loved the woodland pictures you have been doing recently especially “Chestnut Wood”. I’m amazed by how the Daniel Smith ‘Sodalite Genuine’ changes into so many different hues! ‘Moonglow’ is appealing too, watching as the colours appear in your video.
      Thank you for explaining the techniques you have used as well which I find very useful. Looking forward to 2021 now!
      Enjoy your Christmas 🎄Wishing you a Healthy Happy New Year.
      Stay safe
      June x

      1. Hi June,
        Its wonderful to hear my blog has inspired you June. I highly recommend experimenting with your granulating paints, it’s great fun! It would be great to see some of your experiments and paintings hopefully in the not too distant future next year.
        I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year.
        Ingrid x

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