Or can I? I've been creating my most recent work by creating a charcoal figure, applying a watercolour resist called frisket or masking fluid to maintain whites and then painting over everything. Example:
The key to high contrast and great white areas like the bubbles and the skin above water in the image, is a resist to block out the paint colour. It is impossible to paint around it with the same effect. Some artist LOVE to paint around which has a very different aesthetic and is so wonderful but doesn't work here.
Ages ago I learned in drawing class from my friend Furlotte about masking fluid.
This is a liquid that acts like latex, hardening quickly into a rubbery film. Once dry, it blocks all water, and rubs off without damaging most paper. It doesn't work with an unprimed canvas (try wax batik or acrylic gel) but it does on a primed canvas, though it doesn't apply as smoothly. It is meant for watercolour, so it's best on paper surfaces. My Frisket masking fluid is a little bit yellow so you can see it on the page, but it comes in white too which I recommend because the yellow messes with my eyes a bit when creating the colour palette of the artwork.
Its really easy to use!
First, you paint on the liquid. I use q tips. Any brush you use will be ruined so be careful. One bottle in the above picture has a tip to draw with. It was pricey, but i would love a finer tip because it's not a fine and smooth material. It drys fast and begins to pull off again so you have to lay it down and keep going. I've use dots in this example which makes it easier. You can see here my drawing with the frisket applied:
Then I paint!
It makes a wonderful squeaky noise when you brush overtop.
Once the page is completely dry (I'm impatient and use a blow dryer) you can rub off the frisket. It has a special 'eraser' but I find my finger is more effective. It comes off fairly easy and exposes the paper underneath
See the one white dot?!!
This is a magical product for any paper based artist and you can find it in your watercolour section at the local art shop. I love the final reveal and it makes wonderful marks that would otherwise be impossible. And we know the white of the paper is so important.
If you have any questions about my process, just ask!