• Sketchbook

    Tips and Techniques – masking fluid

    Wow what beautiful warm sunny weather we’ve had this week, I spent lots of time in my garden. At the start of lockdown I decided to enlarge and re shaped a few of our flower beds by lifting some of the lawn with the help of my other half of course! Well this week I decided they still weren’t quite right and have altered them again.  I think my other half is getting concerned that if the lockdown doesn’t end soon we’ll have no lawn left!

    As always I’m really enjoying my morning walks with Willow, I can’t believe how much she’s grown! At the start of lockdown she was just a small puppy!


    Along with my daily dog walks and of course painting, my other favourite activity is gardening. I especially enjoy it at this time of year knowing summer is almost here and the promise of colour and fragrance filling the garden. I find sowing seeds and hopefully seeing them slowly emerge through the compost (although I’ve not had much joy with my beetroot), and then gently potting them on into trays or pots very relaxing.

    Studio Garden

    This year I’ve added a few extra pots to the studio garden.

    Studio Garden
    Studio Garden

    Tips & Techniques

    As I mentioned in my last post I thought I’d occasionally share a few tips or techniques and this week I’m going to talk briefly about masking fluid.

    I think masking fluid is a bit like marmite, you either like it and get on okay using it or you really dislike it! I like it but sparingly!

    I use it when painting with watercolours to retain areas of unpainted white paper for the lightest highlights rather than using white paint because I feel it gives a brighter white. However if I’m working on a mixed media painting I do sometimes use white paint or ink instead. I also use masking fluid to retain clean paper for small areas of different colours especially when working wet on wet or with big fluid washes.

    I carefully applied masking fluid with a ruling pen to the edge of the flower petals and the stamens before painting the background on the painting below.


    I try to only use masking fluid where necessary and to apply it as thinly as possible. Care should be taken when applying the masking fluid or the shapes can look quite clumsy once its removed.

    Once dry the masking fluid resists subsequent layers of paint allowing me to paint my watercolour washes quite freely whilst preserving the highlights of bright white paper underneath. I let the painting dry completely before carefully removing the masking fluid, this is simply done by gently rubbing it off with my finger or with a Mask Remover Block.

    masking detail

    You can see where I’ve removed the masking fluid from the top left teasel. The blue masking fluid is still on the other teasels.

    I try not to leave my masking fluid on any longer than absolutely necessary, if applied thickly or left on for a long time it may damage the surface of the paper when it’s removed. The reserved light areas can be left as crisp bright highlights or gently softened with either a damp brush or by lightly painting with a pale wash.

    The masking fluids I generally use are Daler Rowney & Pebeo Drawing Gum Pen. However there are lots of makes of masking fluid on the market and it’s a good idea to try several to find the right one for you. It’s available in various colours including; white, clear, cream, blue, and pink.


    With the weather being so lovely and warm this week we’ve had breakfast in the garden most days. This gives me the perfect excuse to linger over my coffee and enjoy a bit of time being creative in a sketchbook! I had lots of fun putting together several pages in my experimental sketchbook. Although I don’t generally use collage in my paintings, I do enjoy adding it to a sketchbook page along with a watercolour or mixed media sketch purely for pleasure.

    Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,

    but anyone can start today

    and make a new ending.

    Maria Robinson

    Stay safe,


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    2 thoughts on “Tips and Techniques – masking fluid

    1. I remember the first time I used masking fluid and the surprise of the effect it could make!
      Think I need to grow some teasels in my garden as they have such lovely seed heads Ingrid.
      Thank you for your inspiration.

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