Art Terms Explained: Watercolour Painting


As artists, we come across a huge volume of terminology even though looking into, looking through and talking about our materials. In this instalment of the ‘Art Conditions Explained’ collection, we clarify the this means of sure frequently-utilized text, phrases and phrases in the context of watercolour portray.


Bead / Beading Up

Watercolours have a tendency to get in swimming pools and possess a resistance to the area on metallic or plastic surfaces. This can demonstrate discouraging when attempting to blend with them on a palette. The watercolour beads fewer and much less the far more you use a palette. Several watercolourists make it a practice to treat a new plastic or steel palette by giving it a light scuffing all about with a Brillo pad, to protect against beading up. Alternatively, you can pick to use a porcelain palette on which watercolour paints do not bead.


Brush Cleaning soap

Brush cleaning soap is a type of cleanser that is in particular formulated with organic oils to moisturise and cleanse brush hairs, so that your brushes preserve their condition and hairs for for a longer time.


Buckle / Buckling

Buckling (or cockling) happens when humidity soaks into the fibres in paper, causing them to swell and the paper to contort and misshapen. You can stay away from this by using watercolour paper blocks, which are glued on all four sides, keeping the sheets taut as you paint on them, or by manually stretching your paper prior to use.


watercolour paper buckling


Cold Pressed Paper

Paper produced by pressing the sheet by way of chilly metal rollers. It has the classic, irregular, softly dimpled surface area that is involved with watercolour and is the most preferred watercolour paper surface area to function on due to the fact it is properly adapted to several painting approaches. It tends to be more absorbent than hot pressed paper which is more compressed. In the British isles this paper is termed Not, as in ‘not hot pressed’.


Colour Strength

Color toughness – also regarded as ‘saturation’ – essentially refers to the ratio of pigment to binder (two elements observed in watercolour paints). It is a description of how vibrant/excellent/thoroughly clean the colour seems.


Dry Brush Technique

When watercolour paint that is undiluted and thus rather dry or ‘gummy’, is used with a dry brush to paper. The result is chalky in visual appearance, and saturated in colour, and frequently can make for a dramatic contrast towards a lot more fragile, watery, watercolour washes. A really successful and remarkable process for creating textured surfaces in just watercolour portray.


Flat Clean

The use of a single diluted colour to include the white of the paper in a relatively unsaturated and uniform way. See ‘washes’ for extra aspects.



The term flow refers to how cell the paint is, and how conveniently it transfers from the brush to the paper or surface area. Mediums can be added to change movement.


Fugitive Colour

Refers to non-lightfast paints (see permanence), this kind of as Opera Rose or Rose Madder. They fade, or improve colour, when uncovered to daylight. Commonly it is advised to stick to colours that have been rated of fantastic or really superior lightfastness (they may well also have the classification of staying ‘I’ or ‘II’) if you are intending on exhibiting or displaying perform on a wall, as opposed to trying to keep it in a guide or portfolio. Remember, even quite lightfast paints are rated as “lightfast when held out of direct daylight.”



A glaze is when a dilute color is utilized throughout the surface area of a watercolour painting that has been left to dry wholly – the outcome of accomplishing this is to tint the total region with the color of your clean. See ‘washes’ for additional details.


Gum Arabic

A drinking water-soluble gum that is extracted from two species of the acacia tree, which is applied as a binder in the manufacture of watercolour paint. It can also be included to the paint by the artist to enhance transparency and how shiny in visual appeal the paint is.



Granulation in watercolours is an outcome where by rather of a clean spot of colour, the pigment particles settle out and generate a speckled overall look. When watercolour pigments ‘granulate’, they sort small dots and/or groups of flakes that are visually visible. Some colours have a purely natural inclination to granulate far more than other individuals, and watercolourists occasionally acquire advantage of them to include texture. There are mediums that can be additional to maximize granulation.



Watercolour grounds are acrylic-based primers designed to supply a acceptable amount of money of absorbency to a surface area, so that it is prepared for watercolour to be applied. For case in point, they can be used to adapt any universally primed canvas for watercolour painting.


Gummed Tape / Gumstrip

Gummed Tape is a kind of tape employed for stretching watercolour paper. A single side of the tape is coated with a glue which is water activated, that means it gets to be sticky when moistened, allowing it to strongly keep watercolour paper to a board. In contrast to masking tape it is water-resistant soon after it dries all over again and it does not extend.


taping paper to board


Warm Pressed Paper

Hot Pressed Paper is paper that has been pressed amongst incredibly hot metallic rollers in the course of manufacturing. It is the smoothest of watercolour papers. It tends to be the the very least absorbent of all of the textures and lends itself to very-detailed do the job such as botanical painting.



As watercolour remains soluble in drinking water even soon after it is dry, it can be reactivated with a moist brush and ‘lifted’ from the floor with a rag. This method eliminates some of the pigment from the paper, building the paint look on the webpage.


Masking Fluid

Masking fluid is at times recognised as ‘liquid frisket’ and is made use of to mask off spots of your work. It is painted on with a brush, silicone device or ruling pen and the moment dry you can then paint watercolour about the best. The masking fluid is then peeled off, leaving untouched simple regions of paper underneath. Valuable for reserving the white of the paper for highlights and other compact white spots of the painting.


Mass Tone

The visual appearance of the colour of the paint as it comes from the tube, as opposed to undertone.


watercolour tubes



An additive that is blended with by the artist in buy to support regulate how the paint behaves – including its texture, how it flows, how it lifts from the paper, how quickly it dries and its sheen.


Natural Hair Brushes

All-natural hair brushes are designed utilizing animal hair, these as sable or squirrel. An choice would be artificial brushes.


Ox Gall

Ox gall is applied in watercolour as a wetting agent – ie. It enhances circulation, minimizes beading up and enables for higher adhesion on to previously dried levels of watercolour paint. It is designed from the gall of cows mixed with liquor. Several watercolours comprise ox gall or a artificial substitute, as an component. Use ox gall sparingly as an additive by placing a number of drops in your clear drinking water container.



Pans are plastic vessels in which dried watercolour is stored. The colour is taken from a pan by dragging a moist brush over it. The paint may perhaps be poured into the pan and remaining to dry or extruded like clay and positioned in the pan as a dried cake. There are two standard measurements: fifty percent pan and full/full pan, though there is a compact variation in dimensions among makes.


watercolour pans



Permanence usually takes into thing to consider the consequences of lots of aspects on the balance and overall look of pigments, which include humidity, gentle, warmth, drinking water, acidity, alkali degrees and so on. The permanence of a paint will be indicated on the label applying a ranking procedure decided by the producer and defined in the manufacturer’s colour chart or on their web page. Be conscious that some artists and manufacturers use it as an equal to ‘lightfast’.



A pigment is finely floor color designed possibly in a laboratory or from normally colored rocks. When put together with gum arabic as the binder it will make watercolour paint.



Watercolour primers and grounds can be used to a range of elements which include canvas, wooden, stone, ceramic and plastic to produce a surface that is absorbent sufficient to maintain purposes of watercolour and optimise the physical appearance of colours and marks.


Rough Paper

The most textured paper available – it is pressed amongst sheets of textured felt in the course of the drying method and is not pressed among clean rollers. The heavier textured floor usually means that granulating results are increased.



Single Pigment Colors

Particular colours of paints that only consist of a person pigment. It is less complicated to mix vibrant and lively colors employing solitary pigment colours and color mixing is much more predictable. Artist grade paint ranges have as several single pigment colors as they can. But when a “hue” is desired to exchange a pigment that is no more time out there, or a mixture of pigments has been found that can give a lightfast substitute to a fugitive color, or a harmless choice to a poisonous color – then these seem-alikes are generally built of a lot more than 1 pigment. Prevalent artist mixes are also offered as “convenience colours”, such as some greens, violets and oranges. However, some colors can only be manufactured with a blend of pigments – well known colors these types of as Quinacridone Gold have to be combined as the original pigment is no lengthier available.



Staining refers to how a lot of the pigment will not carry from the paper immediately after currently being blotted with a moist sponge. Some pigments are far more staining than others and some brands will listing this characteristic for their paints.



Watercolour sticks are dried and very-pigmented watercolour in a slim brick or crayon form. They can be used in the same way as pans or they can be used as a drawing software, held and utilized in the exact way you would use a crayon or pastel.


Stretch / Stretching

To extend watercolour paper is a method of getting ready it prior to painting. It involves soaking the paper in h2o until it swells and expands prior to fixing it to a board (normally with gumstrip all over the edges) then allowing it to dry ahead of portray. This system is employed to steer clear of buckling. There are also watercolour stretching frames.


Artificial Brushes

Synthetic brushes are an inexpensive and really hard-wearing choice to Purely natural Hair Brushes. They are designed applying artificial elements, as opposed to animal hair.


Jackson's Raven Mop Brush

Jackson’s Raven Mop brush, a artificial alternate to squirrel brushes.


Transparency / Opacity

The evaluate of how significantly gentle is able to pass by way of an applied paint and interact with the surface area beneath. Transparent paints appear much more luminous on a white aid for the reason that they make it possible for a larger proportion of gentle to hit the surface they are laying on. Opaque paints block this reflection from developing, and can be made use of to address layers of colour beneath. Watercolour paints are mainly clear colors.



Tubes comprise moist watercolour that can be squeezed onto a palette to paint with or into vacant pans.



Undertone is the bias characteristic of a colour when utilized throughout a surface in a slim film, e.g. Ultramarine blue would be stated to have a reddish-blue undertone.



A ‘wash’ refers to the approach of generously implementing diluted watercolour paint on to a area or an current portray resulting in a semi-transparent layer of colour. Washes are generally applied with a wide brush with organic hair that can keep a ton of fluid. See Flat Clean and Glazed Wash for illustrations.


watercolour pencils


Watercolour Pencils

Watercolour pencils are watercolour paint in a pencil structure. They are effortless, adaptable and portable painting resources that are cleanse and straightforward to use. They can be used dry as standard colored pencils, or like pans (extracting color employing a moist brush), or they can be dipped into water and drawn with, generating intensely saturated marks. You can also attract with them onto damp paper and they are specially beneficial for including good strains.



Even more Reading:

Building Beeswax Impasto Medium For Oil Painting

Size, Primer, Gesso And Ground Explained

Every thing You Have to have To Know About Oil Portray Paper

A Guidebook To Oil Painting Mediums

Artwork Conditions Defined: Oil Portray



Source backlink