Water Colour Painting, called ‘aquarelle’ in French, is a painting method, as old as mankind itself. The water ‘aqua’ is taken from Latin which means water. This is a painting method, which uses colour made from pigments suspended in a water-based solution.
A set of watercolors
Origin of Water Colour Painting:
Watercolour painting is a very old technique, as old as the cave paintings of palaeolithic Europe. This technique has been in use for illustrating the manuscripts, right from Egyptian times to the Middle age. However, as a regular and popular art medium, it came into prominence during the period of the Renaissance.
In East Asia, watercolour painting with inks is referred to as brush painting or scroll painting.
An artist working on a watercolor using a round brush
Love's Messenger, an 1885 watercolor and tempera by Marie Spartali Stillman
Albrecht Dürer, Young Hare, 1502, watercolor and body color, Albertina, Vienna
An unfinished watercolor by William Berryman, created between 1808 and 1816, using watercolor, ink, and pencil. The use of partial pigmentation draws attention to the central subject.
Winslow Homer, The Blue Boat, 1892
John Singer Sargent, White Ships. Brooklyn Museum
Stanisław Masłowski, Pejzaż jesienny z Rybiniszek (Autumn landscape of Rybiniszki), watercolor, 1902
Paul Cézanne, self-portrait
How do I start watercolour painting?
- Buy drawing paper suitable for watercolours: For beginners, planning to take watercolour painting seriously, the first thing is to buy drawing paper, which is meant for water-soluble mediums. Using regular paper, cardboard, or mixed-media sketchbooks is not a preferred option for beginners.
- Plan your colours: Before you start using watercolours, plan the colour combination. This is because any good painting must use colours that are coherent and are in harmony with each other. Plan the colours, shades, and you may even use a mix of complementary colours, analogous colours, and earth tones.
- Use a light pencil to draw: Since watercolour is transparent, so you need to be careful while making the rough sketch. Use a light pencil to draw; else pencil marks may be visible through the paint at the end. Use a good quality eraser to remove any extra pencil marks that may have accidentally cropped up on your painting. A good idea may be to use a water-soluble grey coloured pencil for making the rough sketch. As you paint, the lines will disappear completely.
- Outline the light and dark areas of the painting: While creating the initial sketch, figure out the light and dark areas of the painting. And while colouring the dark areas, avoid disturbing the lightest areas throughout your painting process.
- Start painting with light colours: While applying colours, you need to be careful. Start with the areas with light colours, and then gradually move towards the areas with darker colour or shades. For creating the darker shades, you may add a layer of paint over another.
- Give time to layers to dry: Once you apply a layer of colour, give it time to dry before applying the next layer over it. This is also helpful, in case you make a mistake. Once he layer dries up, you would be able to figure out how to tackle this.
- Avoid using more than three colours in the same mixture: Experimenting with the mixing of colours is a good idea, but it’s important to get an understanding of the colour wheel and what happens when different colours are mixed. A good idea would be to keep a rough piece of watercolour paper before you start applying colours. So, before you apply the colour on the main sheet, you can test the colour and see how it will look on the paper.
- Clean brushes between colours: Just like it’s important to give time to each layer for drying, it is also very important to clean the brush before applying the next colour. So, if you are using the same paintbrush for applying different colours, be sure to rinse the brush with clean water and gently swivel it in the water. Clean the brush with a dry cloth. This will ensure that there is no muddiness in your painting.
- Replace your water frequently: To ensure that there is muddiness in the painting, apart from cleaning the brush, it is very important to replace the water. For example, while making a beautiful night sky oil pastel drawing, it’s very important to replace water, as soon as it starts becoming murky. This is why; some artists prefer to work with multiple water cups at the same time to avoid this. But you may choose the style that suits you.
How do you use watercolour?
Using watercolours for painting is very easy. You just need to have a palette of watercolours, a small bottle of spray, and a spoon. Start with dipping the brush in water to make it moist. Then dab the brush onto a colour, and apply the colour-rich brush onto the paper. It’s that simple.
The lightness or darkness of a colour shade can easily be controlled by adjusting the amount of water on the brush. For a very light shade, saturate your brush in water and just touch the brush’s tip to the colour. While for a darker shade, blot extra water from the brush and use the moistened paint straight off the palette.