Watercolours are not an easy medium to get to grips with, they’re known for their transparency, luminosity, and fluidity. But, dive right in with crappy cheap paint and incorrect paper, and you’ll give up before you have even seen how enchanting they can be! Watercolours can be challenging, but so rewarding. In this blog post, I’ll unravel eight fun and fascinating facts about watercolours, perfect to help you decide whether you should invest in your future with this captivating medium.
Watercolour paint is really old! They have a rich history that dates back to ancient times. The use of watercolour pigments can be traced back to perhaps cave paintings and to ancient Egypt, where artists employed a combination of pigments and water as their painting medium. From Egyptian papyri to medieval illuminated manuscripts, watercolours have stood the test of time as a versatile and enduring art form.
One of the unique qualities of watercolours and personally my favourite thing about them is transparency. Unlike other opaque mediums, watercolours allow light to pass through the paint layers, creating a luminous and delicate effect. This transparency enables artists to achieve thin washes and build layers of colours to create depth and dimension in their artwork.
Little Light Portable Pleasures
Paint literally anywhere! Watercolours are incredibly portable, making them a favourite choice for artists on the go. Most Watercolour sets come with a compact palette and a water brush. Just grab a sketchbook and you’re good to go! You can indulge in your creative endeavours wherever inspiration strikes. The simplicity and ease of carrying watercolours make them the perfect medium for plein-air painting and travel sketching.
Watercolours have a mind of their own! No two paint washes will look the same and that’s part of their charm. The spontaneous nature of watercolour paints often leads to delightful “happy accidents,” where the paint flows and bleeds in unexpected ways. As a beginner, don’t be afraid to embrace these surprises, dab a bit of kitchen towel, air or hair dry to manipulate the blends and don’t give up to quickly.
White Isn’t White
White is not the “white” you might expect. Instead, the white areas in some watercolour paintings are achieved by leaving the paper untouched, allowing its natural colour to show through. This technique, known as negative painting, enables artists to create very intricate details. Some people are quite snobby and look down on painters who choose not to use this technique. Find out what works best for you and just do it. No need for others to dictate how you want to paint.
Salt, Alcohol, wet on wet… Watercolours offer a plethora of exciting techniques to experiment with. Sprinkling salt on wet paint creates amazing funky textures while using rubbing alcohol creates interesting texture and colour separations. Additionally, the wax-resist technique involves using wax crayons or candles to create fascinating patterns and designs in watercolour paintings.
A medium to zone out with
Relaxation through Watercolour painting can be a deeply meditative and relaxing activity. Many find joy in the process itself, making watercolours an ideal medium for stress relief and self-expression, bringing a sense of calmness and mindfulness to the artist.
Watercolours play well with other artistic mediums, opening up endless possibilities for mixed-media creations. I’ve experimented many times with combining watercolours with ink, but the possibilities are endless. Get creative with coloured pencils, pastels, or even digital enhancements. Have fun and explore your creativity to the fullest.
So, if you decide to embark on your watercolour journey as a beginner artist, don’t hesitate to experiment with techniques to discover your unique artistic style. Watercolours are a wonderful world of discovery. There is no right or wrong way to use them. Just be sure to have the proper equipment!