Watercolours

April 20, 2020

From Winston Churchill to Prince Charles, watercolours represent centuries of artists trying to perfect the most challenging medium of them all.

Why is watercolour such a difficult medium to master?

Paint removal – mistakes

When you consider painting with oil colours or acrylics there is always the opportunity of removing the pigment from the chosen surface and it can be over painted within minutes of its removal. In the case of oil colours, the mistake can be removed by palette knife or a rag which has been dampened with turpentine. Acrylic can be removed with a damp cloth or the paint will be dry within a few minutes making over painting a possibility with no removal of the original colours, but watercolour will stain the surface of the paper making its removal almost impossible depending on the type of paper being used, a subject being looked into later.

Style of painting

Another challenge with watercolours is the style of your work. When people start to paint with watercolour they tend to be very “tight” in style, or very detailed, painting exactly what they see in a small format. As time goes on and the artist’s confidence increases it is worth trying to become “looser” in style so not painting every detail but giving hints and impressions of what the person looking at while forming an image in their minds. This loose technique is a great skill to acquire and amazing results can follow.

There is a paint called ‘designers gouache’ which is available in artists and students’ quality which has a stronger pigmentation so the colours are bolder than watercolour which when used in conjunction with each other can produce some very interesting results.

Watercolour paper types & quality

Watercolour paper has three different types of finish, a smooth or “hot pressed” surface, a medium grain or “not” surface, otherwise known as “cold pressed” and rough which is as the name suggests. As watercolour is such a liquid colour the texture of the paper becomes part of the painting’s presentation. For detailed work such as portraits or botanical pictures a smooth surface is required, if on the other hand a rugged landscape is planned the artist may go for a rough texture, and for general painting a not surface is usually required.

Some papers are very good quality but mass produced, such as Bockingford which are available with different surfaces and very competitive on price. Others such as Saunders Waterford are hand made with better quality size which binds the paper fibres together and better quality materials so although more expensive better-quality papers will react differently when paint is applied.

One final point on papers is they are available in different weights or thickness. When paint is applied to a thin paper it will cockle altering its appearance. A minimum recommended weight of paper to stay flat is 140lb or 300gsm, or thicker if possible.

Qualities of watercolour paints

There are two different qualities of watercolour paint, artist or professional quality and student. Different brands vary in quality which is usually reflected in the price, but we have found that Winsor and Newton are preferred by the majority of our customers. The professional quality colours are made with pure pigments and may vary in price unlike the student quality which are synthetic based and are all at the same price.

Below are some of the ranges we stock at Gadsby’s.

Related Articles

Pen and Ink Drawing

Pen and Ink Drawing

Trying new mediums... Jane talks us through another new medium you can try if you want to expand your skill set and discover a new angle for your art work. The modern pen In a previous blog (Art Students – Materials) I mentioned the uni pin drawing...

read more
Sketch book project

Sketch book project

'Old and New' project ...churches and ornate architecture Jane talks us through one of the projects she was given at college. It was simply ‘old and new’. It could be anything at all that shows something old and something new, it was an easy choice...

read more
Children’s crayons vs Artists crayons

Children’s crayons vs Artists crayons

Crayons or coloured pencils ...children vs artists We have recently written about pencils in a number of articles. Today we are answering the question (which someone kindly sent to us) about the differences between crayons / pencils bought for...

read more
Pencil Sketching

Pencil Sketching

Possibly the most portable medium Pencil sketching is great fun and you don’t need much to get started, if you carry a sketch book with you all the time you can practice your sketching techniques when you get a few minutes free. All you need is a...

read more
Polychromos coloured pencils

Polychromos coloured pencils

Using coloured pencils is enjoyable. To someone who paints it can feel like a completely different skill set and trying out different sets / manufacturers of the pencils is exciting. Here Jane uses the Polychromos coloured pencils from...

read more
Charcoal drawing

Charcoal drawing

Different types of charcoal Jane tells us of the different types of charcoal that are available. This image shows the most readily available. Left; Willow Charcoal Sticks Thin £3.40 per box Medium £4.80 per box Right; Compressed Charcoal £4.99 per...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This