In Step with Deb Henkener


Please pass the salt!    

     Nature paints our trees with a broad brush of earthy autumn colors. Fall leaves are favorite subjects for many watercolor artists, and the perfect project to try a salt technique that produces texture and natural veining.

     Painting leaves are also great for beginning students, who may be intimidated by larger complex subjects. 

     Do not use anything less than 140 lb. grade of watercolor paper. Cold press medium or rough papers are best for the salt technique. Study the photos in the step-by-step instructions:

     1- Draw a leaf with a hard lead pencil, placing it in the center of the paper.

     2- Dampen only the leaf with plain water.

     3- Add a generous amount of paint to the damp paper. Yellow Ochre was used for this demonstration.

     4- Sprinkle salt in the areas that you want to have texture. The salt absorbs the water based paint, producing a textured result. The type of salt you use is a personal choice. Kosher salt produces large areas of texture and table salt produces smaller areas.

     5- Allow the leaf dry completely and if you must, use a hair dryer only after the paint has been totally absorbed. When dry, remove the salt by brushing or scraping, but make sure all of the salt is removed.

     6- Continue painting the leaf by glazing bright colors over the base color and be careful not to cover all of your salt texture. Finish the leaf by darkening the tips, line the veins, spatter-paint with a stiff brush, and lift a few bug holes to add interest.

Editor’s note: To discover more about this contributing artist, writer and teacher of art applications, more on Deb Henkener at

Published by on January 2012. Filed under Archives, Art-to-Art Palette Journal, HowDoit PB dept, Paint Box Section. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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