Watercolour Paints

We look at watercolour paints in the second part of our series that offers practical advice for the budding artist

Watercolour paints offer the opportunity to build up subtle colours for a picture with real depth—and a relaxed look, possibly, if you’re after a quiet landscape for the bathroom.

A great benefit to watercolour painting is the speed at which you can create really good works of art. If you have a palette, for instance, it is literally a case of cracking it open, grabbing a good quality paintbrush, water and a sheet of cartridge paper—ideally, one specifically made for watercolour painting (which is a minimum of 300 gsm)—and going to town.

The best advice I can offer for watercolours is this: go subtle, and go slow. When figuring out the structure for your piece, use a light shade to place your shapes and work until you’re happy with the perspective, and then add depth with richer colours and layers. Allow each layer to dry, which shouldn’t take too long if you have been careful not to soak the page, before pressing on with the next one.

If you prefer beginning your work with pencil outlines, make sure it’s only a light mark, otherwise the grooves will be visible through your finished piece.

Be sure not to overwater your brush, otherwise you’ll simply be wetting your paper and there will be little colour transfer. Have a piece of paper or kitchen roll nearby, to blot your brush on and experiment with the colour and volume of water you use.

Vary the paintbrushes you use when creating your painting, if you do have a selection at hand, as you can achieve excellent effects with the right resources. Here are a few that you might find particularly useful with watercolour painting:

Let’s start with the round brush as that is probably one we all have in our repertoire. It can be used to outline, fill in small areas, detail, and sketch. You may also have the pointed round, which is slimmer than the round and can provide greater detail.

Next, we go to the filbert, which is a flat, rounded brush. This is great for blending, particularly on rounded edges such as flower petals, and also offers good coverage when filling in small-medium areas.

Finally, the fan brush. This one looks a bit like your hand spread out wide – only instead of an arm, there’s a handle. If you want texture, for trees, hedges or clouds, the fan brush allows you to play about and achieve great effects. Hold it flat above the page, and angle it so that the tip touches the surface, and ‘squiggle’ down, getting wider and wider, to make a tree. Have a practice on some spare paper until you’re happy with the effect.

You can build a collection on a budget quite easily nowadays, and get good quality brushes, just by keeping an eye out for good offers – particularly those on multipacks. I bought a lot of my brushes from a well-known discount bookshop, in multipacks of three or four, and have been impressed by their longevity. Remember, if you keep them clean and store them properly (either on their side, or brush end facing upwards), they’ll go on and on.

Time to get busy!

— Lara Stace, Art (Editor)

Image Courtesy: Filippey (https://www.flickr.com/photos/filippey/7826161062), Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic | Flickr