Watercolors 101

Watercolor 101

Watercolor paint is made with a water-soluble binder such as gum arabic, and thinned with water, giving a transparent color. Watercolors are thought by many to be “difficult” but really they offer a lot of possibilities for creative self-expression.

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Why Watercolors?

Watercolor equipment is all very lightweight, allowing for easy transport. They also will not take up much room in your bag, a great quality for plein air painting and traveling.

Because of the portability, ease of use and clean-up, watercolors are perfect for doing quick sketches or studies.

Tips for Painting with Watercolors

1. Keep your water clean.

• use two jars of water: one for cleaning your brushes, one for painting

• or empty and refill your water regularly

2. Round brushes are a must.

• a quality round brush with a fine point can be a versatile tool and sometimes all that is needed to complete a work

3. Keep some rags handy.

• you can always use paper towels, but since watercolors are non toxic, it easy to just use and reuse a cloth rag

4. The amount of water used is key.

• more water equals more transparency and lighter values

• less water equals more opaqueness and darker values

5. Layering is a great tool.

• adding details and finishing touches over earlier layers of large washes can be done, but only after the first layer is completely dry (otherwise the paint will bleed into the wet areas)

Give it a try!

Watercolors are an excellent medium for busy people as setup and cleanup time can be minimal. It is great for expressive abstract work as well as detailed realism. A versatile medium and lots of fun once you get the hang of it.

Watch our watercolor tutorials for some great projects to help you familiarize yourself with this great medium. Be sure to visit our social forums with any questions.