How to paint with watercolour and salt

Using salt with watercolours is a great way to add texture to your paintings. The salt absorbs the colour leaving shapes that can look like clouds, spots or even leaf veins.

I always wanted to use salt, just to try this technique, but it was when I was stuck with this painting that I had to experiment to get the effect I wanted.


The painting will include a poppies field that has to look dramatic to match the mood of these conjoined twin ladies. It is digitally painted but I wasn’t satisfied with the result as real watercolour can lead to uncontrollable, unique effects that painting with a tablet cannot imitate.

First, I tested a small area with different colours, to get the gist of it. I used two different salts, fine crystal sea salt and sea salt flakes. I found crystal salt way easier to handle while the results were not as different as I expected.

Here are a few colours I tried:

With fine crystal sea salt


With sea salt flakes


There are two tips I would give you:
a) The watercolour needs to be wet, otherwise the salt won’t absorb the colour
b) Wait until it’s dried completely before you get rid of the salt, otherwise you’ll just smudge the wet paint before the effect is complete.

Then I tested three different areas of the painting, the grass, the flowers and the sky. Watch this video to see the results.


Have you used salt in your paintings? Let me know if you have any tips!

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