WATERCOLOUR: THE MEDIUM
Translucent watercolour painting is generally considered to be the
most demanding of all the media.
Being the unforgiving medium that it is, mistakes are hard to eliminate.
It is very easy to ruin a painting!
One can be exhilarated ... or exasperated!
The brilliance and luminosity of translucent water-colour, when the white of the paper is allowed to ‘shine’ through the washes and wet colours which are encouraged to merge, combine to produce some of the most exciting effects imaginable. In other media such as oil, acrylic and gouache, light reflects off the painted surface and can lack the ‘glow’ that translucent water-colours have.
To achieve that special ‘glow’ effect does not come easily. The way to achieve translucency is to avoid playing around with the strokes, or over-manipulation of the brush marks. It is a medium that requires a lot of confidence. Unlike other media you can’t change a dark colour into a light colour. It is also important in this translucent medium to think beforehand about the effect of one wash over another.
Watercolours are free-flowing and spontaneous in character. The effects that can happen when paint touches the water give an expression other media can’t accomplish. One of the secrets to success is to be able to compensate for the water already on the paper. The skill of getting this just right is the crux of watercolour painting.
It is important to reserve white spaces and pale areas, building up the darker tones with controlled, overlapping layers of colour or darker washes.
It takes practice to get this right. Also it is important to remember that colours dry lighter than mixed so have to be compensated for.
Choice of surface of paper, brand name and paper weight, play a large part in the success of a paint-ing. There are three main surface types: hot pressed (smooth), cold pressed (medium) and rough. Quality of pigment/paint is important as is brush quality.
Watercolour has gained much more respect, especially since the mid 20th century. It now enjoys an increasing following. Its wings have been spread and its presence felt in the art world.
If top materials are used, a watercolour painting could last for centuries.
For my work I use French and English papers mainly, regarded as some of the very best in the world. American Daniel Smith paints are used, said to be top in the world.