Water is the magic catalyst in a watercolor painting- it allows for granulation of the pigments, transparency, blooms, and back washes. I learned another trick to use water creatively from the extraordinary watercolorist Shirley Trevana -watercolor pencil shavings. After an area is painted and while it’s still quite wet, shave water soluble pencils or sticks over the area. I use a sandpaper block and Derwent watercolor pencils. As the shavings hit the water, they disperse and create a beautiful, subtle texture. There’s no precision so you get some lovely surprises. Often I will shave several colors in layers to alter the ground color and get amazing effects.

In the leaves below, several shades of brown and blue create interest in the cream leaves. In the landscape, that burst of purple shavings adds a lot of energy. Use this watercolor technique to add subtle texture and color to your work.