Painting with Watercolor
Watercolor is a fun medium, because it’s more difficult to control. It is a bit of a challenge. I’m an artist who likes having control of my media and creating intentional detail, so the challenge of losing control, or just having less to begin with, is one that I very much enjoy. But it’s also something I embrace fully, because I go with the mistakes and let them change my mind and the flow of the painting. It takes some practice to get watercolor to do what you want it to do, and even then, it sort of doesn’t do it. I like the spontaneous play of watercolor.
I like that watercolor paint dries fairly quickly, that you can set out your paints and let them dry, then continue using them. They dry slower than markers, but they’re also a lot more versatile. I also work in acrylic, and I often worry about how much paint to squeeze out of the tube when setting up my palette. I don’t like having to keep going back to get more when I’m in the middle of painting something good and all of a sudden I run out! So maybe I squirt a bunch of red out of the tube, and I don’t use it, and then it dries up and I wasted luxurious, expensive, acrylic paint. I mean, I can afford it… but I’ve always had a frugal mindset. Anyway… with watercolor, you just add more water after the paint dries up and it comes back to life! Another thing I like about watercolor is how much the paper affects the way the paint looks. Rough papers will give you a more textured look and allow the watercolor to do more of its own thing. Smooth papers give a cleaner look, but are also less forgiving of errors. So many creative options to play with.
Preferred Watercolor Paints, Brushes, and Paper
My favorite brand of watercolor paints is the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Radiant Concentrated Water Colors which come in little glass bottles with eye droppers. Because the paints are so concentrated, a little bit goes a long way. You can apply the paint thick and get a very vibrant or dark application, or you can really water it down and change its character quite a bit. Dr. Ph. Martin’s are a very versatile paint, and they’re made right here in Colorado!
Because I work at pretty much the same size scale – I use pretty much the same size brushes for everything. I prefer Round brushes. A Round 3 watercolor brush is my go-to favorite brush for most things from detail to filling in small areas. I also use 4, 5, and 10 Round brushes. For washes, I have a 12 Round, a 3/4″ Oval Mop, and a 20 Round Mop. I like using those for laying down a lot of water for splashing paint in so that it spreads out and does those fun things everyone likes about watercolor.
My favorite paper is Arches Hot Press Blocks 140lb/300g (the smoothest kind I can get, that still qualifies as watercolor paper – not velum or illustration board). I like working on a block because you don’t have to bother with taping the page down or any of that mess. Watercolor blocks are glued on all sides of the page, so there’s a lot less warping of the paper while you work. When it’s done, you can remove the page with a palette knife by peeling it off the block, and there’s a brand new fresh sheet left underneath it!