How to create salt effect watercolor backgrounds

You may have noticed that most of my paintings have a simple white background, in the botanical tradition. But adding a background can really help to accentuate a subject and add atmosphere to a painting.

So in this mini class, my special guest and good friend, pro-artist Jennifer Rose has come back into the studio to show us how to create salt effect watercolor backgrounds by applying salt as a special ingredient on top of the paint. 

Salt reacts with watercolour paint in an interesting way, and here, you’ll see how Jennifer has used the salt and watercolour technique to create a wintry, frosty atmosphere to enhance these beautiful, loose snowdrops.

I hope you’ll have fun creating your own watercolor backgrounds with salt, or experimenting with watercolor and salt in your sketchbook.

For more tips on painting loose walercolour backgrounds, check out this other mini class by Jennifer Rose where she shows us how to create a foliage background in loose watercolor.

The equipment Jennifer uses is different from mine. She uses mop brushes, because they can carry a lot of paint, cold pressed paper, because it helps the paint to disperse, and a daisy-style paint palette which has individual ponds for mixing large quantities of watery paint. If you don’t have these items, just use what you do have! Jennifer used table salt and rock salt in this video, but you can use any salt you have available.

If you’d also like to paint snowdrops in my realistic watercolour style, you can find my snowdrop mini class here.

We’ll be seeing more of Jennifer Rose in the future when she comes back into the studio to share more of her loose watercolour tips and techniques, so watch this space.

If you take this mini class, Jennifer and I would love to hear how you get on, so let us know in the comments below. And do also drop us a message if you enjoyed the video. We love reading them!

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  1. Chris Lee on February 25, 2021 at 3:21 pm

    I love the salt effect and really enjoy learning new techniques as I am fairly new to painting. I’ll also be getting some masking fluid… another cool effect. ????

    • Jennifer Rose on February 25, 2021 at 7:58 pm

      Hi Chris, that’s wonderful to hear you’re enjoying the new techniques which can be applied to your paintings. It’s great to have you here in Anna’s school 🙂

  2. Rosalind Goodwin on February 25, 2021 at 4:29 pm

    Really enjoyed learning about how to do salt effect.

    • Jennifer Rose on February 25, 2021 at 7:49 pm

      That’s fantastic to hear, Rosalind!

  3. Lydia Shemain on February 25, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Thank you Jennifer. Enjoyed the mini class.

    • Jennifer Rose on February 25, 2021 at 7:51 pm

      You’re very welcome, Lydia! I’m so pleased you enjoyed this new technique with watercolour:)

      • Carol Dudley on February 27, 2021 at 1:07 pm

        I love seeing your videos. What is the brand of masking fluid? I gave up on masking fluid because the one I used ruined my paintings.

    • Jennifer Rose on February 25, 2021 at 7:56 pm

      That’s great to hear, Lydia! Thank you 🙂

  4. Barbara K Marx on February 25, 2021 at 5:13 pm

    Jennifer, how wonderful to view your painting technique and the addition of salt. I always enjoyed your comments on my watercolors while enrolled in Anna’s school. I look forward to more instruction from you.
    Barbara Marx

    • Jennifer Rose on February 25, 2021 at 7:55 pm

      Thank you so much Barbara for your kind message. I’m so pleased you’re enjoying my new watercolour style in Anna’s school, and the various applications which can be applied to your paintings 🙂

  5. Mae on February 26, 2021 at 3:23 am

    I love painting flowers in watercolours. Like the process of masking off the flower and working on the background first, without worrying about overlapping. I have masking fluid but do not use it, now I am eager to try this on a Lilium painting I am working on.

  6. Annette on February 26, 2021 at 6:13 am

    Very nice video???? Thank you for sharing???????? I have made similar snowdrops with background and salt but without using masking fluid. This looked very neat and easy. Do you know which masking fluid was used – and is it also easy to get off

  7. Hermi Manalaysay on February 26, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    That is interesting and the work is so nice. Thanks for sharing, its a must try.

  8. Hilda Barone on February 26, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Looks really lovely. Will try this effect. Thank you for sharing.hilda

  9. Helen Upton on February 27, 2021 at 12:24 am

    Loved the snowdrops and salt painting
    I would love to learn this technique

  10. Hanh on February 27, 2021 at 12:52 am

    What masking fluid would you recommend? Thank you.

  11. […] mini classes. In them, she’ll show you more techniques for creating backgrounds, including salt effect backgrounds and blurred foliage effect […]

  12. […] she shows you how to paint other backgrounds including a water effect background, a frosty-look salt effect background, and roses with a loose foliage […]

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