Watercolor Frequently Asked Questions

  What is the difference between oil painting and watercolor painting?
  What is transparent watercolor?
  Why does watercolor get a bad rap by the critics, etc.?
  Do you have any tips on painting in watercolor?
  What is Yupo Paper?
  Glossary of watercolor terms

  What is the difference between oil painting and watercolor painting?

  Water colors differ from oil colors in the point of transparency, and,
  while the latter pigment may be called opaque, the former is entirely the
  opposite. An oil color is made lighter by the addition of white, while
  water colors are made lighter by the addition of water.

  Oil painting may be called body painting and the oil colors will
  cover any underlying tint or mistake, while water colors, which
  have no thickness or body, tint only in part, showing the color of
  the paper underneath.

  What is transparent watercolor?

  Transparent watercolor in essence is painting without the use of white
  paint, any opaque paint or wash, and nothing else. Whether it is in tube
  or cake form, watercolor is a blend of pigment (colored powder), gum
  arabic (a water-soluble adhesive), and enough water to make the mixture

  There are hundreds of watercolor societies today in U.S. and abroad that
  call themselves a watercolor society. But, they allow their membership
  and entrants into their national shows to use crayons, pastel, acrylic, pen
  and ink, and etc. I don't believe these watercolor societies should be
  called watercolor societies... They should be called watermedia societies.

  What makes a good watercolor painting?

  Here are some helpful hints:

  1. The more you work on a watercolor painting, the more it will lose its
      brilliancy and the free, careless style which properly belongs to it.

  2. Good technique will, therefore, mean quick handling with clear,
      transparent colors, blending the different tints into one another without
      showing the sharpness of the strokes connecting them.

  3. It must be free from meddling and retouching.

  4. Blending is everything in watercolor painting and anyone who is able to
      paint a good sky, e.g., without showing the strokes, may be ranked high
      in technique in watercolor. I will probably take some heat for this
      statement, but, I personally believe it is what makes a watercolor sing...

  The beauty of water color painting lies in its transparency and brilliancy.

  Why does watercolor get a bad rap by the critics, etc.?

  Watercolor has always gotten a bad rap from artists, critics, and museum
  curators. They consider watercolor a colored drawing, and not a serious
  medium. Watercolor painters also disagree about how the medium should
  be used. As a purist, I wish to preserve watercolor's integrity by not mixing
  it with any other medium: colored pencil, acrylic, ink, etc. Others think
  watercolor should be used with every possible combination of the above
  materials to express themselves more creatively.

  Do you have any tips on painting in watercolor?

  I do actually, and have an out-of-print book on the subject and I am in the
  process of updating it and hoping to get it to print some time next year.

  But here are a few:

  1. Buy the best paper, paints and brushes you can afford to buy. Never buy
      cheap materials, you get what you pay for. I always compare it to learning
      how to play the piano on an out of tune instrument.

2. Try to paint in the manner that describes the subject. For instance, paint
water with horizontal strokes, as this better express the horizontal form
of water.

3. Paint foliage in small layers or perpendicular touches the latter for tall,
straight trees, the former for bushy ones, in order to express their
character properly.

4. Remember that knowledge comes from application and that, what you see
in art, can be gradually acquired through experience.

5. It is important to resist the temptation to overdo it. A painting should make a
statement --one that doesn't need words. You should not have to resort to a verbal
explanation. As Zoltan Szabo puts it, if you need to use words to explain a painting,
you should be a writer, not an artist.

6. Study the masters, take classes from the best in the field. Read, read and read...

Here are a few don'ts:

   * make your foregrounds too busy or muddy.
   * put too much detail in your backgrounds - keep them simple.
   * paint with tiny brushes.
       use the biggest brush you have as this will keep you from becoming to busy.
   * use too much water - a palette with light washes denotes a weak painting.

What is Yupo Paper?

First of all, Yupo is NOT paper, but a plasic material which is primarily used in the
painting of signs. It can take a lot of abuse and is printed using lacquer paints so that it
can withstand the handships of weather.

I personally feel it should NEVER be used to paint in watercolors.

In order to get the paint to stick on the surface of Yupo you have to use fixatives,
and this changes the surface. Fixatives are not used in traditional watercolor painting.

Since there are only two transparent watercolor societies in the U.S., you cannot
enter paintings done on YUPO. I also believe that any society that is known as a
watercolor society and allows such material in its shows, should not call itself
a watercolor society but a watermedia society. Again, I repeat that YUPO is NOT paper.

Glossary of watercolor terms

cold press; rough, and hot press paper
the texture of the watercolor paper. the mold used in the paper making process
makes one of the three different surfaces.

  1. cold press is the most used paper, with what the English call a NOT

  2. surface: it not hot pressed and it isn't rough.
  3. rough paper is very textured and for a beginning student of the

  4. medium, it is very difficult to paint on.
  5. hot pressed paper is very slick and smooth. It is usually

  6. used for flowing washes, and can be removed almost completely when dry.
paper without any sizing or filler added. Note: most watercolor is sized.

one element of design that relates to the light or darkness of a color or tone.

a modified color with added neutrals. The relative lightness and darkness in a

refers to the the warmth or coolness of colors.

warm colors
red, orange and yellow

cool colors
blue and green

the quality of a surface, both tactile and visual.

toned ground
a thin or light glaze put over the paper's surface prior to painting.

the first wash applied to the paper.

masking fluid
a liquid latex product applied on dry paper and allowed to dry before the application of

a technique that is applied to a wet surface, creating a soft effect.

a liquid application of watercolor.

a graded wash
varies in color or value from light to dark, or dark to light.

the application of a wash over a dry underpainting.

a light value of a hue, made by adding water to the original color.

permit light to penetrate. To allow the white surface of the paper
to show through applied washed.

italian meaning,  a clear dark. Look for the contrast of dark and light. The
three aspects of chiaroscuro are:

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