Painting Drips and Drops By Karin Wells

Filed under Oil Painting

About Karin

karin 222x300Karin Wells is an artist of amazing versatility. She graduated with honors from both the New England School of Art and Design, Boston, 1965, and the Butera School of Art, Boston, 1986. Karin has enjoyed a career as an award-winning graphic designer, illustrator and sign painter. She also taught Life Drawing and Painting for many years. She has most recently studied for three years at The New England School of Classical Painting in Greenfield, New Hampshire, under the direction of Numael Pulido.

To expand her craft, Karin has traveled throughout Europe studying the Old Masters. Her art reflects the deep influence of these great works. Karin demonstrates a remarkable facility for likeness and for the use of light.

The artist is a member of The American Society of Portrait Artists, Portrait Society of America, The Portrait Society of Atlanta, and The Copley Society of Boston.

To learn more about Karin and to view more of her amazing work, be sure to visit her website and blog by following the links below:



If you would like to be notified when Karin updates her blog, be sure to click the “Follow” link in the upper left hand corner of her blog.


Oil Painting For Beginners – Painting Drips and Drops By Karin Wells

How to paint water drips on a vertical surface in four easy steps.

GrapesStillLife 2

This little 8″ x 10″ painting has a lot of water drops. I add these details to a dry painting surface at the end.

I posted the largest file allowed for this so you could see better detail if you click on the above picture.

Here’s how to do it when the light source comes from the upper left:



I use a dark color – raw umber works for me but any transparent dark will do. You are making the shape of a drip. A drip will occur on a vertical or slanted surface. A cast shadow will be on the lower right (i.e., Darker).



You will be looking through the water and it creates a soft shadow on the top left and the harder, sharper cast shadow on the lower right side of the drip.


Detail (above)



Light will be reflected on the top right and will define the top of the drop. I use Zinc White so the original color shows through. The light does NOT touch the shadow and we want to see the untouched color of the surface between light and shadow.



Lastly, add a highlight in the shadow area. I use Titanium White for this as I want it to be clearly defined and opaque.


Detail (above) from Apples Still Life (below).

applestilllife 2

Apples Still Life, 8″ x 10″ Oil on Linen

Go to Part 2: “How to paint water drops on a horizontal surface in four easy steps”

Signature 2Grab a cup of virtual coffee and stop by my Painting Studio to see what’s happening. Also come visit my Portrait & Landscape Galleries.

I hope you enjoyed this resource on oil painting for beginners by Karin Wells.

To learn more about Karin and to view more of her amazing work, be sure to visit her website and blog by following the links below:




15 Comments on "Painting Drips and Drops By Karin Wells"

  1. james moxey on Fri, 15th Aug 2008 6:16 pm 

    Illuminating ! Its a technical detail whicha can always come in useful at some point, I love your painting, enormous talent, wonderfull, congratulations.

  2. Julia Rathel on Fri, 15th Aug 2008 7:04 pm 

    Thanks – I wondered just how to make those water drops – you make is seem real easy. Got to try it now.

  3. maruja saez on Sat, 16th Aug 2008 3:32 am 

    You paint the drops of water easily. I will follow your directions step by step to see if I can get the same wonderful effect. I want to ask you a favor. Could you please explain how to paint stones submerged in the water. Thank you very much, and congratulations. Maruja

  4. Judy on Sat, 16th Aug 2008 8:24 am 

    Wow, unbelievable paintings, you really deserve every award you have ever received. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. M Kumar on Tue, 30th Dec 2008 8:16 am 

    how easily$nicely you put life in your paintings.thanx for a nice lesson. pl do continue your teachings

  6. Delmus on Mon, 2nd Feb 2009 12:50 pm 

    Very very nice demonstration. On top of this, her paintings are gorgeous. Very soft. The doily was done so nicely.

    If of any interest, this site also has tips on dew drops.

    Thanks for a great blog!

    Delmus’s last blog post..Canvas Preparation

  7. Raju Sharma on Sat, 11th Apr 2009 6:08 pm 

    Hi Karin! There is no question you are a genius! I’m willing to be like you. I learned it and I request you please tell me how to soothly go from lighter to darker shades especially when we paint a portrait. In pencil sketching pencil can be used easily by appling a little effort on pencil tip to get it but in poster colors or oil paints I can not make a smooth darker from lighter and lighter from darker. It is to be painted with pixels or patches on it. Can you help me?

  8. Sagay on Sun, 12th Jul 2009 9:07 am 

    That was greatly simplified thanks to you.Please if i may ask how do i achieve tranparency in paint and should it be after drying the work

  9. Gregg @ Oil Painting and Supplies on Wed, 22nd Jul 2009 4:13 am 

    That was great. Great lesson which I will try right away. I am an oil painter also. I love to find blogs like this that give instructions. Karin you have a lot of talent. Thank you very much

  10. Nicky on Wed, 3rd Mar 2010 3:19 pm 

    Your paint the drops of water seem so easy, Thank you very much but I am also interested in knowing if its possible to see how to paint stones submerged in the water.Thanks again.

  11. amit on Wed, 9th Feb 2011 5:23 am is the best method to express feeling..thanx 2 help us.

  12. Samantha on Fri, 18th Feb 2011 10:37 am 

    I dropped by again to go over the interview with Karin Wells. I know you often get this comment but I will say it – great post! Helpful, detailed and very informative!

  13. tanu on Wed, 6th Apr 2011 4:26 am 

    its amazing

  14. salvatore on Sun, 30th Mar 2014 8:48 am 

    Great tutorial. I wrote an article on painting water drops. Please can you give a look at it:
    comments are welcome.

  15. Levi Herris on Tue, 30th Sep 2014 6:41 am 

    Your steps are simple and it helped my child with his painting. In order to understand the difference between a “bubble drop”,”running drop” and a”drip drop” I came across a video – I think it might help others too.

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!