Watercolor – Where to Start

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Those juicy, translucent, jewel-like tones have caught your attention and sparked your interest.

If you could only capture that shimmering, sun-drenched feel of light glancing off the water or the warm glow of flowers peeking out from a fallen log.

If you appreciate the delicacy of transparent washes and enjoy the pristine whites of paper peeking through as glistening highlights, watercolor may be the medium for you.

Watercolor is an easy medium to learn and a hard one to master. You may be a student the rest of your life trying to learn all its subtleties and variations. That’s one of the never-ending joys of watercolor: There is always more to learn.

Space And Portability

Watercolor is an easily portable painting medium and does not require a huge investment or dedicated studio from which to work. Since the work dries almost instantly, it’s perfect for the casual painter. It is also quick and easy to put away. This makes short work of reclaiming the kitchen table when suppertime rolls around.

Easy Watercolor Paints

Watercolor is also great for students who are confined to the closet-like setting of a dorm room. All the supplies can fit in a small toolbox or backpack, and paper can be stored under a bed or rolled and tucked in the back of a closet. A table or desk can be used to paint while seated, or a foldable easel can be used for dry brush painting.

For the student artist who attends painting classes, the portability and drying factor is also a real plus. There’s no need for special carriers to transport wet paintings. Extra muscle power isn’t required to lug heavy canvases from car to classroom and back again.

Many watercolorists paint in a seated position with their paper lying flat on a table or propped at a slight incline. Painting with the paper vertical on an easel is best suited for dry brush paint applications. Typically, the artist uses a good deal of water. Unless one wishes the spontaneity of paint running amok over the paper, a flat or slightly tilted work surface is more practical for the watercolorist.

Since the Watercolor Support is not constrained by a manufacturer’s pre-defined size, a painting can be created in any dimension. One great beauty of watercolor is the ability to paint on any size one chooses. An artist can elect to crop a portion off a painting if one section fails miserably while another area shines. He can divide a sheet of paper into segments and paint tiny miniatures or paint a huge mural from a paper roll. Other types of painting supports can be custom built, but the ease with which watercolor paper can be sliced, hacked and modified makes it a simple job to create a custom sized painting or change size midway through the painting process.

Watercolor Easel

If you have visions of setting up an easel and painting the wonders of the great outdoors, watercolor is a great option. Plein air painting is very popular with the watercolor set, and many artists who work in oils or acrylics in the studio choose watercolor for location painting and sketching. Specialty sets of paints, containers, brushes and equipment are available for those who wish to outfit themselves with gear, but the simplicity of the supplies makes it easy for a casual painter to just grab up a selection of tools, pop them in a duffle bag and head out for an impromptu al fresco paint session.

Tools And Supplies

Watercolor can be a relatively inexpensive medium for an artist learning the fundamentals of painting. There are few items necessary to start painting, and a student can begin with a basic set of supplies.

An artist needs paint that is available in tubes or pans, a palette, brushes, paper and water. There are a lot of additional items like masking liquid, specially shaped brushes, sponges and supplies used for exotic effects. However, watercolor is probably the least expensive medium for those on a budget.

The support used for watercolor is primarily paper. Paper is absorbent, which is necessary for the paint to adhere to the surface of the support. Watercolor paper is available in different thicknesses or weights and comes in several formats. The paper also is produced in several textures that allow the artist a variety of effects. Other surfaces can be used for watercolor painting, but those are generally for students who have had some experience mastering the application of paints and manipulation of brushes.

Watercolor brushes are available in every shape, size and material imaginable. Brushes can become a real obsession, and susceptible artists may amass a collection of noteworthy proportions. Fortunately, a budding artist needs only a small variety of brushes to begin his painting career.

Watercolor Paints And Paper

What Can I Expect?

Watercolor is a vibrant medium that can be used in many techniques and styles. Paint with wild abandon and sling paint if you choose. Use a brush with two or three hairs to paint a miniature so detailed that a viewer may wish to use a magnifying glass to examine it. Create a super-realistic painting that an audience will swear is a photograph. Apply your medium with strong painterly shapes, leaving evidence of your brushstrokes as a personal signature.

Watercolor is a very versatile medium, which is one reason it is so popular. Many artists begin their careers with watercolor and move on to acrylics or oils. When used in conjunction with pen and ink, collage and mixed media techniques, the artist expands his scope of options for creativity.

Watercolor is a medium that wears many hats. For the novice, it has ease of use, little preparation and almost instant gratification. As a student progresses, he begins to see the range of possibilities that watercolor holds and thus begins the challenge.

From simple washes to multi-layered glazes and special effects, watercolor can hold an artist in its spell as he is seduced by the diversity of the possibilities it offers. It is a demanding mistress who will reward you with great successes and miserable failures, but one who is forever alluring.

FREE Online Art Paint Course

Free Online Beginners Guide To Painting!

There are 27 Chapters in this Free Online Painting Course:

Let Us Begin…

The Beginners Guide to Painting

Watercolor Paints

Watercolor – Where to Start (This Article)
Watercolor Paints
Watercolor Paint Brands
Watercolor Supports
Watercolor Paint Brushes
Watercolor Basic Painting Techniques
Advanced Watercolor Painting Techniques
Watercolor Painting Accessories
Watercolor Painting Tips and Tricks

Oil Paints

Oils – Where to Start
Oil Paints
Oil Paint Brands
Oil Paint Supports
Oil Paint Brushes
Oil Painting Techniques
Oil Painting Accessories
Oil Painting Tips and Tricks

Acrylic Paints

Acrylics – Where to Start
Acrylic Paints
Acrylic Paint Brands
Acrylic Painting Support
Acrylic Paint Brushes
Acrylic Painting Techniques
Acrylic Painting Accessories
Acrylic Painting Tips and Tricks

In Closing…

Getting Creative!

Enjoy the Free Art Course!

Paint on! :)

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