I've been somewhat distracted over the last week or so, with members of the family sick, hence the lack of posts. We're experiencing marvellous walking and sketching weather in Wales at the moment, and it's a lovely time of year for getting out with your sketchbook, flask and sandwiches. Being out amidst nature is one of the most therapeutic ways of casting off the stresses of life.
In a recent comment Mark has enquired about the manner in which 19th-century artists preserved the whites in their watercolours. They did not have any masking fluid available in those days, but they did employ a number of the alternatives that we currently use, although I don't know many artists these days that rub out areas of watercolour with stale bread, which was a method much used by JMW Turner.
Well before the 19th Century artists used white bodycolour to create highlights, or to render small features such as seagulls, and Turner certainly used it in many of his works. Writers of that period would often refer to this as 'chalk', so that the medium used might be referred to as 'watercolour heightened with chalk'. Turner used numerous techniques to achieve whites, scratching through the darks with a knife, thumbnail or the wrong end of a brush; removing colour with blotting paper; and even stopping out areas with glue size to prevent washes being laid there. The glue size was washed off afterwards, but this technique obviously required great care and expertise, as it would be easy to mess things up at the washing-off stage, but expertise was something which Turner, of course, was not short of!