What is Watercolor Paint?
There are very few artists that actually master the art of watercolor painting. They might even be a trained artist. They can draw and paint with traditional opaque paints but, they have never learned how to use watercolor the way it was intended to be used. So what is watercolor paint?
There is no right or wrong in art, you can do whatever you want with this paint. If you think you can pick it up and apply watercolor paint without some practice you will be frustrated and disappointed and you will miss the beauty that only this medium can produce.
Watercolor paint is considered to be a translucent medium. Most people grow up using opaque mediums like poster paint, gouache ( posh poster paint), acrylic and oils. When they see a watercolor painting they fall in love with the ethereal translucency it produces. It is a paint that has to be mastered or it will rule the painter. Used correctly it will work for the artist in ways that will amaze and excite
When I teach a watercolor class, I begin with a little chat about forgetting everything they think they know about painting a picture. Watercolor goes against everything they think they know. The first obstacle they have to overcome is the use of water. Everyone suddenly develops a strong case of aquaphobia. They have to be coaxed and coddled into using more than a dribble in their paint.
Watercolor is also very unforgiving. The artist has to know exactly what they are doing and what they intend to happen before the brush touches the paper. Once that paint goes on it is there for good. There are ways to remove some of the pigment if the color is not a staining one but, trying to remove areas of color will give the painting an overworked look rather than the spontaneous one that can be achieved.
Unlike opaque mediums the white of the paper is used as a highlight instead of adding white. White opaque paint is sometimes used to achieve things like snow.
Paintings are done from light to dark not the dark to light as in opaque painting.
The technique of flat washes and graded washes has to be mastered. All of this is a bit like learning to drive a stick shift car after driving an automatic for your whole life.
To add to the learning experience it is a medium that requires special paper. Watercolor paper comes in all sorts of sizes and weights and quality. Cheap paints and paper and lack of experience leads to a messy muddy painting and a very frustrated artist.
What can be achieved with patience and education will be paintings that cannot be replicated by any other medium. So, your eyes will weave through gossamer layers of color as you look at the finished piece.
All this information has probably planted a very large seed of fear in you about trying to paint with watercolor. Do not be afraid but, dip your toe in with a short and simple class that shows you how to start without being overwhelmed. We have a wonderful little sunflower one that will show you how to master a few simple techniques that will get you started.
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