A Watercolor Hack That Will Wake Up Your Colors

Watercolor pro Laurin McCracken shares a simple tip that could change the way your paints behave on the palette

Treasure (watercolor on paper, 14x28)

I use tepid water, rather than cold as it comes from the tap, to wake up my colors in the morning and to mix color throughout the day. I’m simply applying the old physics principle that “solids tend to go into liquids faster the higher the temperature.” With the introduction of lukewarm (or room temperature) water, my colors mix faster and with greater consistency.

Six Reasons (watercolor on paper, 20×24)


  1. I loved hearing Laurin McCracken’s hack for our palettes. I’ve often wondered that same thing myself. Of late, I’ve been considering using filtered or spring water to liven up my colors, get the best possible paintings. Great article. I enjoy each artists’ hacks. Tried and true for this very novice watercolorist. Thank you.

  2. Susan, I am anxious to try the warm water to loosen my paints in my pallet more easily. Loosening the paint, ‘reviving’, would not be the same as using HOT water to paint with! Think about it! Yes the sizing on WC paper is usually gelatin, but by the time you have used warm water (not HOT) to reconstitute it, the paint has already cooled and is room temperature again! The only hang up i can see, is having the warm water on hand as I am ready to reconstitute the paint in my palettes? I guess I fill my ‘squirt bottle’ with warm water and hope it lasts til I get the paint moveable again!

  3. Laurin, your work is incredible…..amazing!!! This painting is absolutely beautiful! Great story in still life! Thank you so much!

  4. Another small hint. If you use sterilized water like you use in your iron or batteries keeps your paint from growing mold. Pat McElwee.

  5. I use nothing but distilled water in my spray bottle, which is always at room temperature, to reconstitute my paint first thing in the morning. However, I use regular tap water to rinse brushes durning my painting sessions so I guess that’s kind of defeating my distilled water purpose huh…lol?!

  6. Wash your paper to get the sizing off and let it dry completely before you paint on it and you will find your paint moves more fluidly and you have more time to do a wash without worrying about the connecting strokes. The sizing is there to keep the paper from getting scratched during shipping.


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