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A watercolor painting is being made with paper, paint, water and a fine brush

A watercolor painting is a creative composition painted with water-soluble and non-opaque paint on white paper. The colors are transparent. By applying layer upon layer, the watercolor artist works from light to darker colours, using the white paper as the main source of light.

The artist uses materials that have been specially developed for making a watercolor; watercolor paper, watercolor paints and watercolor brushes. This enables the artist to apply different watercolor techniques that ultimately make the watercolor so distinctive and recognizable.

Watercolor techniques and effects

In terms of technique and effects, an artist can choose to work with wet paint on dry paper. Or with wet paint on wet paper where the colors flow into each other. Or you can opt for a mixed technique. The latter can in turn be subdivided into a mixed technique in which pencil, charcoal or Indian ink is used to sketch, color or emphasize the composition. Another mixed technique is based on the shared use of opaque paints (but never oil paint). Or, as in recent years, a combination of digital composition parts and hand-painted watercolor components.


Example of wet-on-wet work; No. 7160 Buon Pranzo (2020) by Gerard Hendriks.


Watercolor color palette

Each color can be made with just three core pigments: yellow, blue and red. An artist mixes the core pigments with water on his palette to create the right color or applies progressively darker layer by layer to get the precise color. Sometimes, in exceptional cases, opaque white is also used.


Color mixing chart (example of Daniel Smith paints)


Packed with only a pan of red, yellow and blue paint, a watercolor travel brush, some water and watercolor paper, a watercolorist can go out into nature in the morning and return home in the afternoon with a full-color watercolor. Admittedly, most watercolorists work with basic color sets that contain 6 to 36 premixed colors.

Some watercolorists have developed their own color palette consisting of several self-created colors that they apply consistently to express creative feelings or apply to distinguish themselves with a color signature. Special palettes often bear the name of the equally famous artist.


Anders Zorn unparalleled mastery of technology. 'Summer Fun' 1886.


Watercolor painting: a difficult art technique

A mixed color should be good right away. Perfect in water form, when dried on paper, it shows a different shade than intended. Far in advance you have to think about which second or third layer will yield the right color. Before you even start, you need to have a strategy for determining where to blend or blend colors, whether or not using a dry or wet technique. Water is erratic, goes its own way. Sometimes that leads to unexpected nice surprises, usually it messes up your work.

To express light or incidence of light, work is done from light to dark, leaving the white of the paper as the last puzzle piece open. You end up with what you would normally start with. If oil paint still has some gloss and texture of its own, watercolor paint disappears completely flat and duller than dull in the paper. When it comes to composition or perspective, the first to the last brushstrokes have to be right from the start. There is little or no correction possible.

Watercolor painting requires brains, study and hard work

Watercolor painting is comparable in difficulty to 3-dimensional chess. You also have to think and act backwards, while your paint is unwilling and unpredictable and the unruly paper patiently sucks away all the life you just brought in. Totally incapable of correcting anything. To touch is to put! It takes months, sometimes years of diligent work and study to add something recognizable and 'successful' to the paper. Although watercolor painting has been practiced for several centuries, many old and new masters are known to have never ventured into watercolor art. That's telling.

And it is for that reason that Aquarel Art focuses on watercolor art within the arts. It is unbelievably craftsmanship what is created by artists. It is enchantingly beautiful. It takes guts to include a watercolor of your choice in your interior. That is class that is immediately recognized by everyone!

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