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Watercolor is a method of painting using a combination of colored paints and water. The term watercolor can also refer to a picture painted in watercolor or to the paints themselves. Most watercolors are painted on paper.

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The artist dips a wet brush into the paint and applies it to the paper. The amount of water on the brush determines the lightness or darkness of the color. If more water is used, the color will be lighter. If less water is used, the color will be darker. Watercolors dry very quickly.

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So an artist's brushstrokes cannot be changed easily once they are placed on the paper. For this reason, watercolor artists try to work with speed and a sure hand. Watercolors are equally suitable for making a quick sketch with a few strokes or a detailed, highly finished painting. Because they are easy to pack and carry, watercolors are often used for painting outdoors. Watercolor paints are made by mixing powdered pigments coloring substances with a special glue called gum arabic. The gum arabic holds the paint together and keeps it from flaking off the paper when dry.

Paints are made into dry cakes or packaged moist in tubes. Watercolorists also use special paper. It comes in a variety of thicknesses and textures. The artist chooses paper according to his or her needs. For example, thick, heavy paper takes longer to dry.

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It allows the artist more time to work. Lighter-weight paper with a smooth surface is suitable for work that has fine detail. The best paper is made from linen rag. This paper is stronger and longer-lasting than paper made from wood pulp. During the manufacturing process, watercolor paper is coated with a substance called size. Size is made of glue or gelatin. The amount of size on the paper determines the amount of water the paper will absorb. Paper buckles, or warps, as it absorbs water.


This can interfere with the artist's work. One solution is to stretch damp paper onto a board before beginning to paint. The best brushes are made from the hair of the sable, an animal similar to a weasel. A good brush should hold the right amount of water and release it gradually as the brush is applied to the paper. A large brush is used to cover big areas--for example, when tinting all or part of the paper with a wash. A wash is a little paint mixed with a lot of water. A small brush that comes to a fine point is used for painting small details.

Some of the earliest examples of watercolor painting are hunting scenes painted on cave walls by Stone Age people. The ancient Egyptians also used watercolors to paint scenes of daily life on the walls of tombs and on papyrus an early form of paper. For centuries watercolor was used to color in line drawings and prints, much as children today color the pages in a coloring book. But in Europe, for the most part, watercolor was not appreciated as an art form until the 's.

The earliest development of watercolor as a major means of artistic expression occurred in the Far East, first in China and later in Japan. Paper was invented in China in A. This was about 1, years before it was first produced in Europe. Chinese artists, therefore, were creating artwork on paper much earlier than artists in Europe.

Famous Watercolor Artists: You Need to Know These Greats!

For the Chinese and the Japanese, calligraphy--the art of beautiful writing--and painting were closely related arts. The same materials were used for both: brushes, water-based inks and paints, and paper. Silk was also often used as a painting and writing surface. The traditions of Far Eastern painting are very different from those of Western painting. All these artists tend to formalize or heighten the natural features of the Italian scene; hence the terms 'idea l landscape' and ' land scape compositions' which arc frequently applied to their works and are orten their only names.

The Dutch, and the artist. For that reason they were held in less high honour by the critics of the time; the virtuosi do not dilate Ruisdael or Hobbema as they do on Claude or Salvator.

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But at least one section of English artists took their inspiration from the Dutch School; and against Wilson 's devotion to the Italians may be SCt Gainsborough's early love for the Dutch. There arc two OIher important influences which enter into the formiltion of the English school of watercolour. T he fi rst of these is the land scape, or perhaps it should rat her be called t he townscapc, of Canaletlo.

Canalelto, the foremost Venetian landscape painter of his day, was actually in England from until or , and the paintings and even more the drawings he mad e here had a far. Hc, as no one else, could enli ven the topogr'lphical scenc wit h the play of light over the buildings and thc wellplaced , colourful groups of elegantly dressed figures.

His drawings have an unusual animat ion of outline, and though they were not tinted but carried out in pen and wash, their effect can dearly be traced throughou t the early history of English watercolour. The other clement to be remembered is the ex istence of a tradition of topographic;! His style is virtually that used by Durer at the end of the fift eent h centu ry. It is not possible to account fully for the remarkable Ooraison of English watercolour painting from onwards if the enormous pressure of informed taste in eighteenth-cen tury England is under-estimated. Artists were obliged 10 make some attempt to fashion drawings which were.

Those who had not travelled would be familiar with the work of the greiltlandscapc painters th rough engravings; for the English engravers of the mid century, Vivarcs, Woollett and Byrne, engraved their most popula r pla tes after t hese masters. But a number of the fou nders or the school had made the journey to Italy, either in search of self- improvement or as t rilvelling draughtsmcn in the entourage of a lord or gentleman undertaking the Grand Tour. On their jou rneys they saw the magn ificent spectacle of the Alps and the subtle atmospheres or lhe Roman Ca mpagna ; and in Rome they saw original paintings by the rulers of taste.

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There too they met the nourishing and active colony of German and Sw iss artis ts who were bringing a new, cosmopolitan accent into land scape com position and aClUa lly experimenting in the bolder use ofwatcrcolour and body colour. The Dutch innue nce which is to be traced unmistakably beside the Ital ian innuence, infiltrilted in a somewha t different way.

Gainsborough imbibed it , withou t ever leaving his country, through the loving study of DUjch paintings. They wcre not always of the first C'l libre, but they fait hfully rcnecled the prevai ling mode of lopogr. It was suc h men who satisfied the demand for views of gentlemen'S scats and pros pects of towns which were, apart from portraits of men and dogs, the only artistic commodity required of them in this country.

There can perhaps be no entirely adequate explanation of why, after its sporadic usc in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth. It was her intention 'to improve the taste and polish the manners of her subjec ts withou t corrupting their hearts'. She decided that t he most d irect path to this elevating goal was to have each of the l pieces which made up the set adorned wi th a d iffercnt vicw of the British countryside, Wedgwood did his best to fulfil this order by copying existing engravings of ruins, gentlemen'S scalS and wild scenery.

Accordingly he employed draughtsmen to record scenes of which he could find no prototype. The historian or t he 'Old' Watercolour Society, J. Already in the that indefatigable chronicler of British art, George Vertue, had ad mired t he 1. However his influence was limi ted by his diffidence. He promised Scott to shew them to Sir Ed ward W. Woolwich, to which Pa ul Sandby succeeded in T homas Sandby made an early start on his duties as Military Draugh lsman by recording aspects of the Duke of Cumberland's Culloden campaign of and in Scot land , mak ing a nuent usc of watercolour in his draWings.

But from mid career he mainly restricted the application of his talents 10 architectural design and landscape gardening, He was appointed the first Professor of Architecture on the foundation of the Royal Aeademy in , Many of his later watercolours depict the newer buildings of London seen with. Paul Sand by, who was eight years younger, had been taught by his brother Thomas.

He made a far more extensive and varied use of watercolour and body colour throughout the century and from that circumstance deserves, if any single individual docs, the title 'Father of the English watercolour'. I aul Sand by was an incorrigible and fervent experimenter; he was the first Englishman to use the newly found technique of aquatint; he was constantly trying new ways of making wlours, and his earlier ambition lay in oil painting.

It was his urge for experiment which led him to pay equal allention to pdinting in gouache and in pure watercolour. In style he was an eclectic. He never travelled outside England, Scotland and Wales, but of course he was fully aware of the fashionable enthusiasms and closely in touch with. At times he made formal Italia n com positions in the manner of Claude or Poussin; bu t for preference he confined himself to the more literal transcription of scenes in t he places he knew and tra velled to. He had no taste fo r the excessively rugged, the mountain cliffs of Rosa, but the perspective schemes ofCana le tto often sway him.

Taken all in all, he recalls Dutch as much as Ita lian models; he is a sort of disciple of Claude worki ng in t he vernac ular.


But this very eclecticism resuhed in his form ing a hi ghl y ind ividual s ty le; he esca pes classification with other schools and becomes w holly Englis h. He shows his natural temper in hi s choice of scenes. The Old Swan F;g. Again, in point of style. Sand by's watercolours and gouaches are drawn.

Sand by has brought his calligraphy into harmony with colou r just as he has brought his various models in draughtsma ns hip int o a harmonious conception of composit ion. In his landscape Sand by sets out to give a matter-of-fact rendering of what is actually before his eyes.

These figures indeed do much to counteract the Slight trace of an unnaturalized foreignness. Hayman and the group of admirable book- illustrators worki ng at thesametime. Paul San d by.

He touched the art world at every point; he was act ive in the negotiations which led to the fo und ation of the Royal Academy; he bought paintings secretly from Richard wilson to keep him from starving; he e ngraved drawings of Greece made by William Pars. Drawings of Warwick by C.