What is watercolour? Watercolour, or aquarelle, consists of pigment bound in gum from the Acacia tree. Its most appealing characteristic is its transparency that allows light to be reflected from the surface of the paper through the layers of applied colour. Layered washes increase in density and transform colour already laid down. It is water-soluble and, although water is all that is needed for most watercolour techniques, mediums are available to change the nature or finish of the paint.
How is watercolour used? Watercolour is designed to be used on paper and can be applied in a number of ways. The most traditional of which is in a series of washes and carefully applied detail using a sable or other natural hair brush. Other techniques include wet-on-wet where paint is dropped into already wet paper or dry-brushing, where there is little water on the brush and none on the paper. It can be applied to other surfaces but there are cheaper water-based media, such as inks or acrylic, which may be more suitable especially for large scale pieces.
Is Watercolour the best paint for beginners to use? Watercolour is not the easiest paint to get to grips with. It can be very unpredictable in the way it runs, pools and dries and learning to control this is, sometimes, very frustrating and challenging. Even the most accomplished watercolourist may get some unexpected results but it is mastering how to take advantage of the way the paint flows that can be very rewarding.
What is a half-pan? A watercolour pan is a small ‘cake’ of dried watercolour in its own container. A Half Pan is the smaller and most commonly used size of pans – usually around 14x17x8mm although sizes can vary between manufacturers. The larger pan is called the whole pan.
See our Introduction to Watercolour.