Watercolour is a painting method in which paints are made of colour floating in a water soluble medium. The common support for watercolour paintings are paper, papyrus, plastics, fabric, wood and also canvas. Watercolour painting is also known as brush painting in East Asia.
There are four major principal ingredients for watercolour which are binder, colorant, solvent and additives. Binder refers to substance that holds the colour in suspension while colorant is insoluble metal oxide crystal. Solvent is used to dilute the paint and additives are substance to modify the durability and colour of the mixture.
Watercolour refers to paint that are mixed with water and carbohydrates as binder. When the watercolour was first introduced, the binders were sugars. It was later changed to a combination of natural gum Arabic and honey as additives to improve the dissolvability of the binder and develop a longer product’s shelf life.
There are two terms commonly known among the painters; bodycolour and gouache. Bodycolour is the watercolour made as opaque as possible while gouache is made opaque with the addition of colourless opacifier. The modern industrialization changes the principal ingredients used for watercolour painting. Manufacturer utilizes pigments used regularly in concrete, architectural paints, ceramics, cosmetics, printing ink and a lot more.
There are a few characteristics to categorize watercolour painting. One of the paints characteristics is staining. It is almost impossible for the painters to remove the staining paint once it has dried. Staining is increased if dispersant is used to decrease paint milling duration. While another characteristic, granulation refers to the appearance of the particles in the finished colour. Granulation can be attractive provided it is used effectively by painters.
To create a good and quality work, painters need to select a fine brush. Brush consists of three parts that are ferrule, handle and tuft. Ferrule is a metal sleeve surrounding the tuft as it provides support under pressure. Handle has a distinctive shape widest behind the ferrule tapering to the tip. Tuft is the most important component in a brush. Tuft is a bundle of synthetic fibers or animal hair attached together at the bottom. The best tuft regularly used are squirrel hair as it is straight and thin besides providing high liquid capacity.
Among some of the distinctive shape for natural and synthetic brushes are acrylic, fan, mops, rigger, filbert, straight and round. Acrylic tuft is a flat brush used for scoring and scraping while fan is used for texturing and painting. The round tuft can perform any task, mops are fine for wet-in-wet technique, and filbert is used specifically for shaped brush strokes. A high quality brush possesses five key attributes that are capacity, snap, release, durability and pointing. Painter has a different painting style as it depends on their preference for brushes.
Due to the fact that water is an active component, it is difficult to control this key component. There are several unique techniques to produce good watercolour paint. The basic techniques are washes and glazes. Wash is the application of a thinned paint to produce a unified combination of colour. One of the methods to produce a wash is by tilting the paper surface and stroke downwards evenly. Each stroke overlaps the previous stroke to remove the excessive water by pulling it down. To darken or lighten the wash, add more paint or water to the mixture.
The other basic technique, glaze is applications of a new layer on top the previous layer. This technique is used to mix or adjust a colour. This method works effectively for painting high contrast and watercolour portrait. On the other hand, wet in wet is a popular technique produces numerous effects. It requires the painter to apply a new layer of paint to an existing wet area. Wet in wet can be categorized into different characteristics; backruns, pouring colour, paint diffusion, salt texture and dropping in colour.
Backruns which is also known as blossoms, watermarks and blooms is used for decorative effect. Pouring colour justifies it all. Painters pour huge amount of diluted paint onto the surface. Painters then mix the colour using a brush. Paint diffusion produces delicate border and shape the diffusion with surface water flow. Salt texture refers to the act of sprinkling coarse salt and causes blot to the colour.
Among some of the prominent watercolour painters are Edward Hopper, John Marin, Paul Klee, Dong Kingman and also Andrew Wyeth.
Watercolour tips for beginners
Watercolour painting can be hard for the beginners. Here are some tips and guidance for the first-timer. Alter the composition of thumbnail sketches before you start painting. Divide the sketches into at least four tonal areas as it lets you control the contrast. Try to limit your colours to three selections only as it produces a harmonious painting instead of a scattered and muddy painting with a mixture of variety of colours.
Position your composition well to stand out from the rest of the other painting. Create interesting feathery effects to add colour to you painting. Do avoid using neutral darks as less dark means more life and character to the painting.
In order to have a good piece of work, artists should practice their drawing skills as it will affect the outcome of a painting. Beginners should start by drawing some simple lines and merge it into a shape. Consider where you would like to place your subject before sketching it out. In short, plan accordingly for the composition.