The Last Five Minutes of a Painting

“Dancing Clouds” (watercolor, 17 x 23 in.)

A great many watercolorists work from light to dark, with each successive layer of paint further darkening key areas. Georgia Mansur does this, too, but with twists. Hear it from her: “I normally do my paintings in three washes,” says Mansur. “The first wash is about saving the whites and getting light-tone values in. The second adds form and structure, with some of the darker values and midtones put down. The third wash is the time for details and working with the consistency of paint. That’ s where I will exploit texture, employ some impasto.

“Roussillion Hill Town” (watercolor, 14 x 20 in.)
“Magenta Hydrangeas” (watercolor, 23 x 17 in.)

“So the consistency of the paint changes for each layer. The paint-and-water mixture is similar to weak tea in the first stage. The second stage uses less water and more paint, resulting in a creamy texture, and I’m working wet-in-wet. The third stage is wet-onto-dry. I’ll use paint straight out of the tube to get an impasto effect. This allows me to put down marks that are really crisp. It’s the calligraphy stage with line work and mark-making, which makes it very personal. The last five minutes of the painting are those accents that make it you.”

“Laid Back Style” (watercolor, 16 x 12 in.)

Discover Georgia Mansur’s “joyful palette” process to create rich and bold watercolor art every time!


  1. Thanks i appreciate that- i am a practical person and want to help people gain access to real tools thst are actually useful. Glad you liked the excerpt.

  2. I just read the Last Five Minutes in Painting. Impasto, hmmmm! Now frame that painting and travel to outdoor art festivals or carry it to your group show. You will find that the impasto paint chips fall off down onto your mat. Now add the moisture that always gets into the painting and you have paint marks that do not come off the mat surface. I caution anyone on doing the impasto technique in watercolor. Sounds great but, thicker watercolor chips and ruins a mat. More money and time down the drain.


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