Watercolor

Watercolor painting has the reputation of being quite demanding; it is more accurate to say that watercolor techniques are unique to watercolor. Unlike oil or acrylic painting, where the paints essentially stay where they are put and dry more or less in the form they are applied, water is an active and complex partner in the watercolor painting process, changing both the absorbency and shape of the paper when it is wet and the outlines and appearance of the paint as it dries. The difficulty in watercolor painting is almost entirely in learning how to anticipate and leverage the behavior of water, rather than attempting to control or dominate it.

 

Watercolor paint consists of four principal ingredients:

  • colorant, commonly pigment (an insoluble inorganic compound or metal oxide crystal, or an organic dye fused to an insoluble metal oxide crystal);
  • binder, the substance that holds the pigment in suspension and fixes the pigment to the painting surface;
  • additives, substances that alter the viscosity, hiding, durability or color of the pigment and vehicle mixture; and
  • solvent, the substance used to thin or dilute the paint for application and that evaporates when the paint hardens or dries.

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