Tuesday, 17 June 2008


Did you enjoy your visit to the art shop? Have you had a go at sticking your paper to your board? Perhaps you've even attempted splashing some paint onto the paper - I hope so!
Talking about paints - which type should you get? Watercolour is available either in pans or tubes. I used to prefer the pans as I felt the paint was a little more 'pure' without the running agent which is in the tubes. However, as I gradually worked my way through the pans which came with my ready filled watercolour box, I started to replace the colours with tube paint. I squeeze a small amount into the empty(ish) pans as I need it and find I am happy with this. The brand I use is Winsor & Newton - for no other reason really than that my art shop has a large selection of their paints! I would suggest you buy the paints which are easily available to you - no point in making life harder than it is!

Winsor & Newton has an Artist range and a cheaper range called Cotman. Both of these are good quality paints and I know that there are some professional artists who are extremely happy with Cotman paints. I have a couple of tubes myself, but most of mine are the Artist range as I find the colours cleaner.
In traditional watercolour, white and black paint is not used. If you want white in a painting you have to reserve the space i.e. don't paint on it! or scratch it off with a blade. You can use masking fluid to help keep the paper clear of the paint - it's a rubbery fluid which dries where you paint it, and is rubbed off when the paint above is dry. When rubbed off, it leaves the untouched paper underneath. I have tried on several occasions to use masking fluid and in fact only threw away a dried up bottle the other day - which I think demonstrates quite clearly how I got on with it - or rather didn't! I struggled for several years not using white or black, not liking to break the watercolour 'rules'. Then one day, I just thought to myself that my sort of work was not the common application of watercolour paint with gorgeous washes and light brushwork. My paintings are built up of many layers - again a 'no no' in traditional circles, and I do now use both white and black! I must admit however, that white, in my experience, has to be used very carefully indeed if the painting is not to become chalky and dull. Despite the many layers of paint in my pictures, I still like to see the paper glow through and it can't glow through a thick layer of opaque white! What colours to buy? Well, this really does depend on the subjects you like to paint. My own most often used colours are Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Lamp Black, Mars Black (I love the way this granulates in background washes), Winsor lemon, Alizarin Crimson, and Cadmium Red. I have several other colours but the ones listed are the ones I tend to use most often.

Next time, we'll talk more about brushes and erasing pencil drawing on watercolour paper (don't!!)
I remember at the beginning of this blog I said I would post a Tervueren I was painting - well, here it is finally!

Have fun painting!
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