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Learning to Paint with Watercolors

By Cindy Tabacchi

ImageWatercolor is an easy, fun medium for creating art.  Color theory, composition and design can be explored freely with watercolor paint, paper, and brushes.  Several techniques may be used with watercolors for varying effects including painting wet on wet, wet on dry, layering washes, and more.

Watercolor paper comes in cold press, hot press, and rough.  Rough paper has the most texture, and its hills and valleys can result in interesting effects when paint is added.  Hot press is the smoothest and has the finest texture.  Cold press has a moderate amount of texture and is the paper most commonly chosen by watercolor artists.

Watercolor paper comes in several weights ranging from 90 lb. to 300 lb. based on the pounds per ream of paper.  Most artists prefer to use at least 140 lb. paper.  Papers vary somewhat between manufacturers, so sampling different papers is advisable.  Paper can be purchased in pads, in blocks or in large sheets.  The large sheets are usually the most economical and can be torn into whatever size is desired.

Natural bristle brushes work best with watercolor as they hold the paint well.  Good sable brushes may be the biggest expense for the new watercolor artist, but good brushes can make all the difference when painting.  If brushes are properly cleaned and stored after each use they will last for many years. 

Brushes come in many sizes and shapes.  Beginning artists would do well to choose a variety of brushes, as budget permits, including a flat brush for washes, two sizes of round brushes and at least one line or detail brush.  More brushes can be added later as needed.

Now for the best part:  the paint.  Watercolor paints come in tubes and cakes.  The tubes of paint are concentrated liquid paint that can be placed on a pallet or paint tray.  They can be used wet, blended with water, or they can be allowed to dry and reactivated with water.  The cakes of paint are already dry and sized to be dropped into a paint tray.  They are also reactivated with water for use.  Both types are good and chosen based on personal preference.

As with paper and brushes, paint comes in different grades.  The better quality paints, usually professional grade, have the greatest amount of pigments and produce the best results.  Not surprisingly, they are the most expensive.  However, watercolor paints are very concentrated.  When mixed with water for painting, a little paint goes a long way, so they last a long time.  If cost is a factor for the beginner, student grade paints are a less expensive alternative.

Books on color theory are helpful to learn how different colors work together.  Cool color, when used together, can be calming or soothing.  Warm colors are vibrant and exciting.  Using both cool and warm colors in a painting can cause a feeling of tension that adds excitement and makes the painting interesting to view.  However, mixing warm and cool colors together on the pallet will result in a muddy tone.  Using different values adds visual appeal to a painting.

Composition and design are also topics to explore with watercolor painting.  Again, books can offer helpful information on these subjects.  Classes are a great way to learn about all aspects of painting.  Many parks departments and community colleges offer classes in watercolor painting.

The best way to learn about watercolor painting is to pick up a brush and paint.  Try different papers and brushes.  Experiment with different color paints and techniques.  Practice painting free form to get the feel of the medium.  Try painting with different dilutions of the same color from very dilute to very concentrated.

For a smooth wash, paint an area of the paper with water first.  Mix some paint with water on the pallet and paint the wash over the watered area.  This technique is called painting wet on wet and is a good way to create an even wash over a large area.

Painting wet on dry is another watercolor technique.  Paint that has been mixed with water to the desired concentration is painted on dry watercolor paper.  This allows for greater definition than wet on wet painting.  Detail work is usually done wet on dry.

Watercolor painting is a fun and satisfying way to create art.  Paintings can be used to make your own greeting cards and also make great gifts.  Imagine being able to hang your own original art in your home.  Learning to paint with watercolors is an enjoyable hobby and can be a rewarding experience.

 
Papers and PadsHand Book Watercolor Journals

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Oil PaintsPermalba White Oil Color

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Papers and PadsParis Bleedproof Paper

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Papers and PadsCanson XL Mix Media Paper

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Canson XL Mix Media Paper


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Learning to Paint with Watercolors

By Cindy Tabacchi

ImageWatercolor is an easy, fun medium for creating art.  Color theory, composition and design can be explored freely with watercolor paint, paper, and brushes.  Several techniques may be used with watercolors for varying effects including painting wet on wet, wet on dry, layering washes, and more.

Watercolor paper comes in cold press, hot press, and rough.  Rough paper has the most texture, and its hills and valleys can result in interesting effects when paint is added.  Hot press is the smoothest and has the finest texture.  Cold press has a moderate amount of texture and is the paper most commonly chosen by watercolor artists.

Watercolor paper comes in several weights ranging from 90 lb. to 300 lb. based on the pounds per ream of paper.  Most artists prefer to use at least 140 lb. paper.  Papers vary somewhat between manufacturers, so sampling different papers is advisable.  Paper can be purchased in pads, in blocks or in large sheets.  The large sheets are usually the most economical and can be torn into whatever size is desired.

Read more...
 
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