Watercolor & Watercolor Artists

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Watercolor is a unique artistic medium that artists all over the world have used for their expressions. As mentioned in its name, watercolor is a water-based paint, making it a unique medium that everyone from beginner painters to complete masters can enjoy. There is a hypnotic element to watercolor paintings. As a water-based solution, it can be challenging to control the colors. However, this can only lead to more color blending and more creativity. Water features in garden landscapes is especially interesting in watercolor, as the scene features both moving (water) and static (the fountain itself) elements. This site, the Watercolor Web, honors watercolor artists who choose to feature outdoor water fountains and other water based scenes. The number of participating artists is expanding steadily. Each of the new arrivals satisfies  the criteria and meets the objectives of the site that can be summarized as "only watercolor and only top quality." They also contribute to its international character.Dating back almost as far as art itself, watercolors have played an essential role in the art world. Artists have used this medium to climb their way into the public eye and develop their place in popular culture. Nonetheless, you do not have to be an expert painter to try your hand at watercolor painting. One of the most incredible things about watercolors is their simplicity and inability to stain skin and clothing- so anyone can be a watercolorist!

The Basics of Watercolor

Watercolor, in its true sense, is a method of painting wherein the paints are water-based. This means that the pigments of color suspend themselves in the water. Interestingly, this form of painting is also called aquarelle, a name influenced by the presence of water. When we splash water onto a solid surface, sometimes there is no way to tell where the water is going to run. This applies to watercolors when putting the paint on paper. In essence, you are painting with water that contains pigments of color. For this, it is essential to know that watercolors have an unpredictable quality to them. So, don't feel discouraged if your lines turn out to be imprecise. It is natural for watercolors to bleed into each other. If precision is vital to your work, wait for a color to dry before adding another one. Overall, the inexactness of watercolor is what makes it so unique. Taking the form of water, it creates a mesmerizing piece that seems otherworldly. So, embrace the mistakes, expect some bleeding, and appreciate the enthralling strokes of watercolor. 

The History of Watercolor

The use of watercolor dates back to the beginning of artistic expression itself. In the early days of humans, the Paleolithic Age, pigments like ochre and charcoal were mixed with water and used for paintings on cave walls. These would become some of the earliest visual arts. Beyond the early days of humans, the Ancient Egyptians also used watercolors on papyrus. The few that survived today were buried in dry conditions in tombs and pyramids. Watercolors were also used in Chinese culture dating back to around 4000 B.C.E. It was only for decorative purposes. Still, it paved the way for watercolor landscapes that became a staple of Chinese painting around the 4th-century C.E. 

Watercolor rose in popularity in the Middle Ages in Europe. Artists used this medium to decorate illuminated manuscripts and create color maps. At the time of the Renaissance, portrait miniatures and nature studies utilized the water-based paint for drawing. European artists during this time also used watercolors in fresco paintings on walls, not just paper. However, paper became the main surface in which the paint was used as papermaking became more advanced. Albrecht Durer, a Renaissance printmaker and artist, experimented with watercolor effects on paper, noting its transparency. This sparked more artists to try out watercolor on their pieces. However, watercolor remained primarily a medium for sketching before creating the real deal. 

Impressionism

During the 19th and 20th centuries, watercolor's inexact and blended qualities influenced impressionist painters and their imprecise compositions. During this time, watercolor transformed into the primary medium for many artists, not just a sketching tool. Some artists who used watercolor for their expressions are impressionist Paul Cezanne, Winslow Homer, who created images of the natural world, and Wassily Kandinsky, who used the ambiguity of watercolor to produce abstract paintings. Today, watercolor is an essential staple of art. Its versatility and luminosity spawn breathtaking creations. Even beginners can generate their own masterpiece with this unique medium. 

Famous Watercolor Painters

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Winslow Homer - This American watercolor painter taught himself the ways of artistic expression. He did not have a very public life, but friends recount that he took inspiration from nature and scenes from real life. As a result, Homer is well-known for his depictions of nature. 

Georgia O'Keefe - Before her iconic oil paintings of flowers, O'Keefe used watercolors to experiment with color and composition. You could say that this period of using watercolors lead to her abstract representations. 

Paul Klee - After joining the artistic group called Blaue Reiter, Klee became interested in non-figurative art. The group focused on finding spiritual truths and would often use color to do so. As a result, watercolor was the perfect medium to express his thoughts on color and abstraction. 

Wassily Kandinsky - Living through the turn of the 20th century, Kandinsky is generally credited as one of the founders of abstract art. He would often use music to inspire his strokes, colors, lines, and watercolor to emphasize the abstraction. 

Famous Watercolor Paintings

Countless pieces of watercolor paintings catch the eye of thousands. Here are some of the more notable works:

  • "Scheveningen Woman" by Vincent van Gogh
  • "Composition IV" by Wassily Kandinsky
  • "Train at Night in the Desert" by Georgia O'Keefe
  • "The Bridle Path, White Mountains" by Winslow Homer
  • "Open Mountain" by Paul Klee 

How to Create Your Own Watercolor Masterpiece

Before beginning, you must first gather all the necessary supplies. Here are some of the things you need to create a watercolor painting:

  • Watercolor paint set
  • Brushes
  • A cup full of water
  • Watercolor paper
  • Watercolor re-creation
  • Scrap paper
  • Watercolor palette

Don't Skimp on Material Quality

When shopping for your materials, consider the quality desired. If you are going for a professional piece, you should opt for the higher end paints and brushes. If this is more of a craft or fun activity, you can never go wrong with the cheap stuff. One thing to purchase, though, is watercolor paper. Regular paper is absorbent, and it makes no exception for watercolors. If you paint on regular paper, it is just going to bleed all over. The watercolor paper helps keep your strokes precise- to some extent. Additionally, you do not have to go overboard when getting paints and brushes. You only need a few brushes, but you must at least have small, medium, and round brushes. As for paints, pick the basic colors that you want, then mix them together when you start painting- that's why you have a watercolor palette. Make sure that you have clean water to mix with the pigment. Use this to clean off your brush regularly, or when you need to change colors. Change the water when it gets too murky. A scrap piece of paper can help you determine the colors before applying to your work. Before putting the brush to paper, clear off space so that you do not feel too overwhelmed while creating. It may also help to sketch your ideas before, as well. 

Reminder: when you mix colors, always be sure to make more than what you need. If you run out, then it can be tricky to recreate the same exact color. All in all, watercolor is about creating unique pieces. So, embrace the imperfections and enjoy creating your next masterpiece.