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WATERCOLOUR PAINTING


Potsdam Alter Markt Stadtschloss 1840
Watercolour paintings and the artists enjoy several advantages by using the watercolours. These advantages lie in the colours’ quickness of its application and the transparent effects achievable. The brilliancy of watercolour gives to the paintings is also one of the major attractions to use. As the watercolours have certain advantages over other colours, the artists use the technique of watercolor painting to their advantage. They often depict much beauty and sense of the place than it would be nearly impossible otherwise.
Harmony in Clothes 

Potsdam Alter Markt Stadtschloss 1840 -by Friedrich Wilhelm Klose

WATERCOLOR : GATEWAY OF THE ART OF PAINTING   The handling of watercolours is quite technical, too, as there are very few chances of correcting any mistake done while painting. These colours also need special care on the part of the artists and the owner of the paintings. The watercolour paintings would be vulnerable to sunlight, dust and humidity in the air. However the modern techniques have taken care of most of the drawbacks of the watercolours.


WATERCOLOUR GALLERIES : Watercolour paintings include fresco, tempera, aquarelles, gouache types of paintings.

Château de Beauregard [ Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons ]
If we ask any artist why he or she uses water colours, the answer could be in three words, perhaps: speed, transparency, and spontaneity of the colours. these are the basic qualities of the watercolurs. And for permanency we can say that though it is coloured water spayed on thin paper, these colours last for centuries.

Advantages of Using Watercolours

Watercolour paintings and the artists enjoy several advantages by using the watercolours. These advantages lie in the colours’ quickness of its application and the transparent effects achievable. The brilliancy of watercolour gives to the paintings is also one of the major attractions to use. As the watercolours have certain advantages over other colours the artists have turned the watercolors painting technique to their advantage. These painters often depict much beauty and more information and sense of the place than it would be nearly impossible otherwise.

Creating Harmony of Colors


Theme of colours: Harmonious colours create maximum visual interest.
Summer landscape with a road, waterpaint on paper, 25 x 34.7 cm

Harmony is a state of happening where wavelengths of those present around meet each other to form a pleasant scenario. In painting harmony of colours is paramount. If the colours are used creating a harmonious looking painting, it is an achievement of the artist. Here the artist create a single effect using different characters of the colours of his or her plate; the plate might be full with cool colours or bright colours, but the painter configure a whole picture to facilitate the viewers eyes to be pleased.


The artist, while painting in water colour or oil colours or in any other medium, endeavours in relation to finding equivalents of the colours he or she sees in the real atmosphere. But his or her choice is limited to the colours available in the palette. As the piece of music entertains the listener by creating a listening interest, the painter tries creating visual interest in the eyes of the viewers.

The viewers, or the listeners, enjoy the art or music if the sense of order is there. The sense of order is pivotal for creating interest and the final enjoyment through the work of art. By harmonising the tones and values of the colours, the painter creates the same sense of order. With the help of his or her painterly vision, the artists create a kind of lively equilibrium among the different tones of the colours used. Ultimately the end product, the painting on paper or canvas, arises as the convincing reality of the object the artists has created. (Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
The harmony of the colours is not limited to the art only. The fashion designers, while making outfits also, consider the aspect of colour harmony. Clothes and their colours are designed to look gratifying the persons who put them on. The dress designers and experts in outfits take care about the colours of the clothes they prepare. For making modern clothes looking so satisfying, they use the concept of keeping the colours harmonious; they take help of colour wheel.

Harmony in clothes is a relative concept. It would vary with the seasons. You would find a dress designed for spring attractive only in that season. The summer dresses are made to please the eyes of onlookers in the days when the season of summer is in full swing. They try keeping dress and dress materials in harmony, too.



Learning the watercolour painting is to practice a group of techniques like, washig, glazing. The handling of watercolours is quite technical, too, as there are very few chances of correcting any mistake done while painting. These colours also need special care on the part of the artists and the owner of the paintings. The watercolour paintings would be vulnerable to sunlight, dust and humidity in the air. However the modern techniques have taken care of most of the drawbacks of the watercolours.

S. Dali with Dandalinewatercolour

There are certain and well-known techniques used while using watercolours. The most used technique is the ‘Washing’. In ‘washing’ technique the area of the paper the artists wants to be covered by the wash is wetted, by applying water with the help of brush or otherwise. Similar to the "Washing" technique, the technique of “Glazing” is also applied while finishing the watercolour painting. In the "Glazing" technique, the mixed paint is applied in layers over the dry surface of the painting.


The act of glazing, especially in watercolour paintings, refers to applying a layer of paint over an already applied layer of paint. The glazing is done by thinning the colour with water, making the colour transparent. After glazing the texture of the surface, the painting area that is glazed, changes its looks. After drying the glazed colour, it becomes the final look of the paintings. The drying takes its time, depending upon amount of water used and quality of the colour used.

The artists grade colours, used for glazing are good and popular transparent pigments, are Auroline, cobalt blue and permanent rose. For applying a glaze colour, the paint brush is filled with quite a wet, almost watery, pigment. Then the artists apply the colours on a wet paper or on the dried surface of the wash. The technique of glazing produces soft and subtle marks on the paintings, making the background areas impressive.

There is one more technique of applying colours; it is called “Scrumbling” technique. Scrumbling is similar to the glazing described as above, except, colours used here are opaque. Instead of adding value to the underground paint, the Scrumbling obscures the same. After the scrumbling, it becomes difficult to identify whether the artist has used ' Scrumble' or not. (Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Theme, Landscapes in watercolour. Technique of using light background and delicate brush.

Egyptian Pyramids, watercolor over graphite by Henry A. Bacon


When an artist looks upon a scene, immediately a visual experience is generated in her or his mental sphere.


Process of Painting: If this visual images the artists made into his or her mind are is translated into colours within a short period of time, it can be recorded with more authenticity and liveliness. For this purpose of recording, the artist needs a medium that can be applied with delicacy; watercolours provides with such an opportunity where an artist can use brushes loaded with wet colours and infused with elegance. The immediacy is the real strength of watercolours. Such a facility, such a luxury is hardly available while using oil colours as the oil colours take its own time to dry.

Act of Artist: The noble duty of landscape painters is to depict the underlying structures and not merely the details of the world which is revealed in three dimensional forms. The painters by their art strive to let the art-lovers rising to a higher and noble plane. The real life is full of imperfections, but the painters choose the most beautiful parts to represent. On seeing the final work our eyes would catch the painting’s colours, its proposition and the balance of light and shade. In all the desire of the painter to replicate the ideal beauty is achieved through their works. (Images Courtesy By Henry A. Bacon (Honolulu Academy of Arts) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons)

Adding Light and Rhythm


The handling of watercolours is an art and technique side by side. Using the water colours is quite technical, too. Once you have put the colour on paper there are very few chances of correcting any mistake done while painting it further. While applying, watercolours also need special care on the part of the artists. And after getting a painting at home the owner, or a curator, of the painting should care much about the same.

Sternwarte Berlin -by Kloss

The watercolour paintings would be vulnerable to sunlight, dust and humidity in the air. Modern techniques have taken care of most of the drawbacks of the watercolours. In the above painting we can see the adept handling of the colours by the painter. The light is everywhere, as if the sun is out to fill each every corner of the scene. And as it is the daytime, the people are walking on the street, happily, enjoying the presence of the warm sunlight.(Image Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

In the detailed foreground, the shadow of the building in one side is lighted by the glow of sunlight falling on other part of the street. Surprisingly compared to the size of the painting and the proportion of the building, the space allotted to the sky is on the higher side. But the artist might have thought adding a powerful and complete feel of the noon-time; and thus he would have made the sky-space more prominent.



In watercolor paintings, the light adds rhyth enhancing value of painting. When an artist decides to paint in watercolours, the prime factor he would think about would be the light. The light, the sunlight, can be bolstering or pale; the light can be intense or diffuse. The artist sets his or her palette and water colours following the pattern of the light.

Turku Cathedral, Finland - Watercolor
Artist : Carl Ludwig Engel (1778–1840)

Second important aspect to consider while deciding paint watercolour is the look at the way in which the sun or moon illuminates the objects in the surrounding. For an experienced landscape painter, it is a supreme factor to consider the aspect of light properly. The falling of light adds value to the painting and infuses refinement to the objects. Ultimately the artists use these aspects to enliven on the canvass. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Another important aspect in watercolour painting, though in all the types of paintings, is the skilful use of light and darkness, adding a rhythmic pattern in the final art piece. The large stock of life, filling the land, the road, and the street like the water fill a roaring ocean add a pool of energy to the whole painting. There is another reason too for considering a painting with scorching sunlight a powerful one: the sun is regarded as the symbol of masculine power. Here in this watercolour, the power of light seems competing the height of the cathedral. The sunlight falling from one side enlightens each and every object. Moreover the presence of men in uniform on the street, and the horse driven vehicle, carrying a supposedly representative of some power over the area, add much to the field of energy.

Using watercolours have certain advantages over other colours. The master artists have turned the watercolours painting technique to their advantage. These painters often depict much beauty coupled with the colours. They can pack more information and sense through watercolour and the smooth brush strokes. Except in watercolour paintings, such a fee of the place and light would be nearly impossible.

The Message in Painting

Surprisingly the man sitting in the horse carriage is painted looking pale in comparison to other objects present in the scene. The artist might have an idea to make it allegorical. Perhaps it convey a message that however powerful a man may be, he is insignificant before the power of God, here represented by the cathedral, and the omnipresent power of nature symbolised by the flood of sunlight.


Why Painting the Landscape: The art of landscape painter revolves around the pivot of honouring and celebrating the physical environment we could see on the surface of earth. An artist would try recreating it on canvas or on any other support. This task may be executed in variety of ways. Main attraction for considering the landscape as a big canvass lies in the virginity of the beauty of countryside. It is a delightful and relaxing place for retreating from the chaos of city life. Richly packed with long pastoral areas, the mountains, rivers, lush green vegetations and the down-to-the earth people: these are the subjects that hold great importance for landscape painting.
Harmony is a state of happening where wavelengths of those present around meet each other to form a pleasant scenario. In painting harmony of colours is paramount. If the colours are used creating a harmonious looking painting, it is an achievement of the artist. Here the artist create a single effect using different characters of the colours of his or her plate; the plate might be full with cool or bright colours, but a painter configures whole picture to facilitate eyes of viewers to be pleased.
There are certain and well-known techniques used while using watercolours. The most used technique is the ‘Washing’. In ‘washing’ technique the area of the paper the artists wants to be covered by the wash is wetted, by applying water with the help of brush or otherwise. The artist takes out the required blob of watercolour from the colour tube and applies it on the wetted surface; it can be applied freely over any portion that is already painted but still wet. Then the colour so spread out is allowed to be dried.

When an artist looks upon a scene, immediately a visual experience is generated in her or his mental sphere. If this experience is caught in colours within a short period of time, it can be recorded with more authenticity and liveliness. Here the artist needs a medium that can be applied with delicacy; watercolours provides the artists with such an opportunity where she or he can use brushes loaded wet colours and loaded with elegance. Such a facility, such a luxury is hardly available while using oil colours as the oil colours take its own time to dry.

A well-painted portrait would show the inner qualities of the person whose portrait is done, as the aim of the artists cannot be limited to painting the contours of the face and limbs of the model.

Washing Technique, Wet-in-Wet


Watercolor paintings done by using different washing techniques
Berliner Hütte, watercolour by Unknown artist 1879

The artists use different styles and techniques while paintings. They have options before them so far as the tools of the trade are concerned. Various types of brushes in sizes and the long assembly line of colours to chose from: these are their facilities before they start paintings.


Water Colour Techniques: The artists, for using their art in an interesting way chose different techniques. In these techniques of watercolour painting, the colours are prepared by dissolving desired colours in water. Watercolours might be opaque or transparent; the artists should be well-versed with different techniques of watercolour painting.

WASHING Wet-in-wet

There are certain and well-known techniques used while using watercolours. The most used technique is the ‘Washing’. In ‘washing’ technique the area of the paper the artists wants to be covered by the wash is wetted, by applying water with the help of brush or otherwise. The artist takes out the required blob of watercolour from the colour tube and applies it on the wetted surface; it can be applied freely over any portion that is already painted but still wet. Then the colour so spread out is allowed to be dried.

The Materials: Then the necessary amount of pigment is mixed and applied over the wetted areas, and on any overlapping sections of the art, after which it is dried by either keeping in the sun, or under the fan. Only after drying the paint would spread evenly. At this time it would be useful to keep a piece of watercolour paper in hand for using it in case of needs arises; adjusting paint brush or excess colour laid on the paper. It would help a lot in bringing about controlled results.

There are so many techniques, popular and less used, which are applied by various artists making their artwork look attractive. They strive to make their work unique, too. While painting, in watercolour or oil painting, every artist desires expressing his or her thoughts in different ways and techniques known to him or her. While doing watercolour paintings, the ‘Washing’ technique is also such a kind of technique that has been in vogue for a long time. (Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)


America has given many versatile painters to the world of art. William Trost Richards who died in 1905 is one of the leading painters of America. He concentrated his skill on watercolours. In his days the painters known as HudsonValley painters were famous for their paintings. Their art was tilted on the side of romanticism. William Trost Richards carved out a different path and concentrated on the reality. (Image courtesy By Friedrich Wilhelm Klose Alternative names Kloss, Friedrich Wilhelm (ab 1840 • from 1840) Description German painter Date of birth/death 1804(1804) after 1863(1863) Location of birth/death Berlin Berlin Work location Berlin (Aquarell) [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons)
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