As Exciting as Watching Paint Dry
If you've seen a recent picture of me, you might wonder why would this guy need a hair dryer? But, I do and I use one for my watercolors in the studio. It speeds up the painting process and helps me to stay focused on my work.
It's a different story when I watercolor on location. I work very wet and after I lay in my first wash, I have to wait a long time for the paper to dry in order to proceed. If it's a particularly damp day, that can be a twenty to thirty minute wait! To speed things along, I put the painting in the sunlight (if there is any) or wave the paper back and forth in the air to dry. If I'm parked nearby, I use my car's heater like a hair dryer, but that's not always the case.
I have always thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a cordless hair dryer when I paint en Plein air? About twenty-five years ago, I called Norelco to see if there was such a thing. Unfortunately there wasn't, back then batteries weren't strong enough to power a cordless hair dyer.
Well, times have changed and battery technology has greatly improved. Recently, I was thrilled to find out that UAARHAIR© now sells a cordless, battery operated hair dryer. It's available on Amazon for $169. It has 300 watts of power that can reach a temperature of 120° - 140° which is warm enough to dry a sheet of 300 lbs. watercolor paper in about five minutes. When fully charged, it'll run for twenty minutes on the hottest setting. I've used it several times and I'm happy to report that it works really well under all sorts of conditions, including those particularly damp mornings!
When I use a hair dryer for watercolor, I'm careful to evenly distribute the heat. In the studio, it's best to hold the electric hair dryer about 8 inches away from your paper. If I concentrate the blower in one spot, I'll get an unwanted watercolor bloom or "blossom." Outside, using the cordless dryer, I hold it much closer to the paper because it's not quite as powerful.
Do you use a har dryer for watercolor? Do you have any tricks for drying your paper when painting en Plein air? Feel free to share some of your tips or advice in the comment box below. I'd love to hear from you!