How to work with watercolours on an acrylic painting? With Gabriele Templin-Kirz

Is it possible to work with watercolours on an acrylic painting? It is! The German artist Gabriele Templin-Kirz shows us in a portrait painting, how to do it. Keeping in mind the following recommendations, you will find lots of creative options besides the usual painting techniques. We will show you step by step how it works:

You will need:

  • An acrylic painting of your choice, painted for example on canvas
  • Schmincke Watercolour ground, fine (50 702), alternative: Watercolour ground, transparent (50 704)
  • DaVinci acrylic brush sword striper; DaVinci fine, round watercolour brush size 2,
  • A foam roll
  • Schmincke HORADAM® AQUARELL in 5 ml or 15 ml tubes, e.g.: Magenta (14 352), Madder red dark (14 354), Cadmium orange light (14 227), Brilliant blue violet (14 910), Helio cerulean (14 479)
  • Watercolour pencils in black, red, orange andocean blue
  • Schmincke Watercolour Fixative AEROSPRAY (50 403)

Take an existing acrylic painting or you paint one with acrylic colours, for example with PRIMAcryl® or AKADEMIE® acrylic colours. For overpainting with watercolours, the acrylic painting must be dry, clean and grease-free. 

Step 1:

The important point for overpainting acrylic colours with watercolours is the preparation of the surface: Apply thin layers of Schmincke watercolour ground, fine with a foam roll. For the second and third layer, please leave free spaces in the face. The acrylic colours still shine through the primer.

Step 2 and 3:

The lateral form of the head and the shoulder will be transparently overpainted with HORADAM® watercolours in different mixtures of Madder red dark and Cadmium orange light as well as Magenta and Cadmium orange light, using the sword striper brush. For deepening the shadows below the eyes, use the HORADAM®-colours Madder red dark, Cadmium orange light and Brilliant blue violet separately. The lips will be accentuated with the same colours on the still wet watercolour ground so that you will get a lavender tone on the upperlip.

Step 4:

Now you can use the watercolour pencils: First accents (the form of the head, the eyes and the gap of the lips) will be set in black into the still wet ground. With the red pencil, you can paint a small area beneath the ear and with the blue pencil you can put some focus at the eyes, the root of the nose and the nostrils.

Step 5:

Now the contours of the face will be intensified with HORADAM® Cadmium orange light, using the sword striper. If necessary, you can add some outlines with the black watercolour pencil.

Step 6:

The left part of the face can be gently overpainted with a self-mixed grey-violet-shade. For keeping some lights, leave some white parts open. Now you can add some red areas at the ear and the shoulder.

Step 7:

Now you paint a wide, diagonal red line into the face, sparing the eye.

Step 8:

You can intensify the shadow next to the nose with a little Brilliant blue violet. The green shade of the eyes - remaining from the acrylic painting - will be repeated onto the cheek (mixed out of HORADAM® Helio cerulean and Cadmium orange light). As highlight, put some orange next to the green part.

Step 9:

To indicate the frame of the glasses you scratch some colour from the painting, using the brush handle of the small round brush, so that the white of the watercolour ground will appear again. With a self-mixed blue, you accentuate then the frame of the glasses with two smaller brush strokes. Now the painting is finished and needs to dry.

Finally, you should apply a layer of watercolour fixative to protect the painting. We recommend usingthe Schmincke Watercolour Fixative AEROSPRAY, spraying from a distance of 30 cm, from left to right and from top to bottom.


Alternative technique:

If you use the Schmincke Watercolour ground, transparent (50 704) instead of the fine one, it will cover the acrylic colours with a transparent layer so that you work with the watercolours on the visible acrylic colours. This offers other creative options; the technical application of the ground is the same.