You’re ready to make your mark on the watercolor world. That’s great.
During my school years, I used watercolor paints and acrylic paint that were a size of my hand. Color bricks were as big as my hand with rounded edges so children couldn’t swallow them!
There are so many beautiful watercolor paint options out there, you’ve probably been salivating at the possibilities.
In watercolor, the pigment is suspended in a water-soluble binder. When you add water, the paint dissolves, allowing the pigment to spread.
You’ll be able to distinguish good paint from bad, and choose the best watercolors by knowing something about it. Understanding watercolor is important if you want to enjoy a hobby as a watercolor artist.
What is watercolor paint made of ?
Watercolor paint is made of a few simple ingredients, but the two main components are the pigment (this provides the color) and the binder (usually gum-arabic). Watercolor paints also contain some other additives which alter the paint’s appearance, the way the paint performs, and to extend the shelf life of the product.
First and foremost you have the very finely ground colored pigments. There are over 100 pigments used in artists gouache paint. These can be natural or synthetic. Some of the natural pigments are hard to A watercolor paint’s quality or grade can also determine how much pigment it contains. Most manufacturers offer two types of watercolor paints – professional grade paint and student grade paint. As a result of replacing some of the expensive pigments with moderately priced alternatives, student grade paint has a lower cost. Pigment levels range between 10% and 20%.
There are some brands that use a synthetic binder instead of gum-arabic as a binder in watercolor. It is the job of the binder to help the colored pigments attach themselves to the watercolor paper. A binder also helps produce brighter colors by holding pigment particles together on the paper’s surface.
In general, 50% of paint is composed of binder, which is a transparent substance.
In watercolors made with only pigment and gum arabic, the pigment will dry rapidly to a hard block, whereas synthetic binders and gum arabic tend to dry very quickly. Therefore, watercolor paints contain moisturizers and plasticizers to extend their life and make them easier to dissolve.
The paint doesn’t dry too quickly, so watercolor washes can be applied more easily. In most cases, moisturizers are glucose (such as corn syrup) or honey! Typically, plasticizers are glycerin, and their percentage is around 20%.
By preventing paint from drying too quickly, these additives make watercolor washes easier to apply.
By preventing paint from drying too quickly, these additives make watercolor washes easier to applys plasticizer, and it’s usually glycerin
In addition to improving the paint’s handling and color appearance, colorless fillers are needed to give it a smooth, easy-to-handle consistency. Additionally, fillers change how pigment sticks to paper, so it doesn’t lift off the surface when you add more paint. Fillers are sometimes added just to reduce the amount of pigment in a paint.
Watercolor paints are available in the form of cakes, tubes and liquid. Cakes are hard and have a low water content. Tubes contain softer paint that contains more water.
Watercolors have a lot of advantages
Painting with watercolors has some advantagescrylic, oil and gouache. Each of these different paint mediums require different techniques.
Water evaporates and dries until it is no longer there. Artists often need to make quick decisions when working with water, since it dries quickly. Watercolors, therefore, can be challenging for some people.
In spite of this, watercolor does not necessarily pose a greater challenge than other mediums, such as oil or acrylic. There are several errors underneath the final painting that were corrected by the oil painter after he started to paint the first time. The only difference is that you will probably need to reach for another sheet of paper when working with watercolors.
I find watercolors to be a joy to use because of their fluidity and transparency, as well as sometimes unanticipated results. You may want to consider the following advantages:
- Watercolor is a water-based medium, so it’s less messy than oils or acrylics
- There is no strong smell to watercolors.
- It is a good thing that they dry quickly, since you can move on to the next steps quicker.
- Hairdryers are often used by artists (including me) to speed up the drying process.
- Among the simplest mediums for an artist, watercolors are pleasant, simple to mix and apply.
- It is easy to transport watercolors due to their light weight. Sketches en plein air are a breeze with this product
- Soap and water are all you need to clean your paint brushes
- Waste is minimal. Paint left over on your palette will dry up. The paint can be easily recovered by adding water next time.
What to look for when choosing watercolor paints – Some characteristics to consider
Watercolor paint making is a delicate and complex process. The composition of paint is influenced by the benefits and drawbacks of each ingredient. Because of this, the best paint comes from long-established and reliable brands.
To judge the quality of watercolors, you should look for a few characteristics.
The ability to remain lightfast or permanent. Paintings with this important characteristic are more likely to last a long time. When exposed to light, it describes how resistant a painting is to fading. As a result of ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards, there is now a worldwide standard for lightfastness.
Ratings for lightfastness are as follows:
The ASTM I standard is excellent in terms of lightfastness
Very Good Lightfastness – ASTM II
Insufficient lightfastness for use in artists’ paints – ASTM III
Choose only paints with “very good” or “excellent” lightfastness ratings on the packaging.
Your painting should last for a long time, right?
A transparent process. It might seem that watercolor paint is always transparent, but that’s not the case. This art medium is characterized by its transparency, after all. The transparency of watercolor paints varies. Generally, there are four types:
There are four types of transparency: transparent, semitransparent, semi-opaque, and opaque.
Light passes through fully transparent watercolors and reflects off the white surface of the paper, giving a brighter and more luminous result.
It is possible to choose from many different colors and pigments, as well as many different paint formulations. Scarlett Lake, French Ultramarine, Vermilion are some of the romantic names manufacturers use to describe their watercolors. But the names are just for marketing purposes. They do not indicate that you will get the same color from one brand to another. You recall from earlier that pigment is what creates color. Therefore, each paint’s final color depends on the pigment concentration and the combination of pigments in the recipe.
In addition, single pigment paints produce more vibrant and lively colors than several pigments mixed together. For this reason, you tend to get dull results when mixing different watercolor paints.
When choosing colors it’s a good idea to select single pigment paints.
As a result, I recommend that you use transparent, single pigment paints that are very lightfast or excellent for the best results. Because there is only one pigment involved in each individual paint, these paints perform well and are easy to mix and apply.
By mixing primary colors (blue, red, and yellow), you can create any color you need. But you must be confident in your mixing abilities. In order to achieve the desired result when learning watercolor painting, mixing single pigment paints together can be a challenging task! In order to simplify life, some “convenience mixture” colors (paints containing more than one pigment) are included.
Choosing paint is a matter of personal choice. Start with a basic, limited color palette and enjoy yourself! You now know more about the objective measures and characteristics of watercolor paint.