Watercolour – relinquishing control

Watercolour – relinquishing control

Watercolour, specifically transparent watercolour has been my favourite medium for about ten years now. It is a strong, fluid, expressive, fun and dynamic medium. 


Yes, it is a challenging medium but as an artist, I want to be challenged.  So why do I love it so much?


Well for a start no need for turpentine, linseed oil or adequate ventilation.  Set up and clean up are a breeze, no mess, no fumes, and no need for a huge Studio Space.


Its characteristics lend themselves perfectly to self expression. I love that each layer of paint reveals previous brush strokes and marks, like revealing an artists’ soul. 


Painting from light to dark without white except for the white of the paper which has to be preserved when needed, without erasing and without much room for error.


Say what? Yes, the medium requires skill, it demands respect and that I raise my game. I love that. The transparency of the medium means that you can’t cover up mistakes without risking overworking the paper. That same transparency also yields unmatched luminosity. Light travels through the water and between the pigments and bounces back off the white paper creating an amazing glow that sets it apart from other mediums.


What more do you want? Easy? Forget about it.


Water is fluid and I love that the expectation of total control must be relinquished. It was a hard lesson for me to learn. Water, however, is the teacher, the guru, the shaman, the Obi-Wan. Too much water, not enough water, just enough water, you are the one that must learn how it behaves, you must strive to understand it while keeping an open mind, and accept what you cannot control.  


It’s worth it.


Use the best materials - I use only artist grade paints. These days, artist grade  paints have the full tonal range needed to produce excellent results and have the necessary lightfastness to last for centuries when properly cared for.


I use a variety of manufacturers with my favourites being Sennelier, Daniel Smith, Hobein, M. Graham and Winsor and Newton. I tend to refer to the pigment rather than the colour because a colour by one manufaturer is not necessarily the same in another. I use a variety of manufacturer's based on my affinity with a particular colour or level of transparency. 


I also use excellent quality papers and my favourite is definately Arches hot pressed 640 gsm paper for my florals and cold pressed or rough at 300 gsm for landscapes.


Using quality paints and paper ensures the longevity of the work as does proper framing. My work is framed at Wallspace Gallery and I can't stress the importance of working with a professional framer to best present your work as well as choosing archival materials that are non acidic and museum quality (UV deflecting) non glare glass to best preserve your work. It ensures that your collectors will be able to enjoy it for generations to come. 



If you are an artist and have always wanted to try this medium I urge you to give it a chance because it is a deliciously serendipitous medium that is full of beautiful surprises. 



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