Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet technique requires us to make our canvas “wet”.  For this, we apply Liquid White, Liquid Clear or Liquid Black.  Depending on what you are painting will determine if you use Liquid White, Liquid Clear or Liquid Black.  Today, I will discuss Liquid White – which is the most commonly used base paint.

The first thing we do before we begin to paint is to apply a thin, even coat of Liquid White using a 2 ” brush (you may also use the 1″ brush).  Be sure that you stir your Liquid White thoroughly – the oil will separate from the paint and the oil will need to be reincorporated into the paint.  Apply the Liquid White by using long horizontal and vertical strokes over the entire surface of the canvas.  The Liquid White must be applied in a “THIN” coat.  Too much Liquid White will make the oil paint “melt” so to speak.  It will spread out and not keep its edge.  Be sure to “scrub” the Liquid White into the canvas and ensure that you have applied the Liquid White on the corners and edges.  Please use a little at a time. It is easier to add more Liquid White if needed than it is to remove it.

How to tell if you have the correct coverage:

  • The Finger Print Test – using the tips of your finger, touch your canvas:
    • If you cannot see your finger prints – there is TOO MUCH Liquid White on your canvas.  Using a paper towel, carefully wipe it across your canvas to remove the access.  Then, taking your brush – with NO MORE Liquid White – brush and smooth out your canvas and retest.
    • If you touch your canvas and you barley have any Liquid White on your fingers – you really can’t see the ridges of your finger print – you have too little.  Simply apply a little more to your canvas. Then retest.
    • If you touch your canvas and you can clearly see the ridges of your finger print AND you do not have any Liquid White between the ridges, then you have the correct about applied to your canvas.

Applying Liquid White to make your canvas “wet” will allow you to actually blend and mix colors directly on the canvas rather than on the palette.  You will do some color mixing on the palette, but not as much.  Also, your paint will move around on the canvas easily.  If you have a spot on your canvas where the paint “drags”, means you missed that spot when applying the Liquid White.

Liquid White will also be used to “thin” other colors to apply over the thicker paint – such as for highlights.  The idea is that thin paint will stick to thick paint!  This is one of the “rules” to the Wet-on-Wet technique.

Liquid White is a slow-drying paint which will allow you to work your paint for a long time.  If your Liquid White become thickened you can thin it with Bob Ross Odorless Thinner.  Do not use turpentine or other thinners.

Do keep in mind, when thinning your paint with Liquid White your paint colors will lighten up.

I do hope your find this information helpful.

Thank you for stopping by and Happy Painting!

Contact Dore Strock
Fill out the form below to contact Dore.