How to paint in watercolor?

Como pintar em aguarela?

Smooth and with a light tone, watercolor is a painting technique present in the history of art, from the Paleolithic to contemporary times. Over the centuries, various artists such as Tadio Gaddi, Albrecht Dürer, Van Dyck and William Turner have created smooth, transparent patches of color on the paper through the addition of extremely ground pigments, incorporated with gum arabic and water. Learning to paint in watercolor can be a complex process when we ask ourselves about the materials and techniques we should use. In order to help in this initial phase, we have gathered basic tips and techniques for those who want to take their first steps in the world of watercolor.

Paulo Ossião | Artists | P55 - The platform of Art

The paper

Let's start this journey through paper. This is a fundamental choice as the results will differ depending on it. At the time of selection, it is necessary to know that there are three fundamental factors: format, grammage and surface.

With regard to the surface, it can be divided into three types: hot press (smooth and firm), cold (textured paper) or rough (soft and light). The cold press, which absorbs more water and pigment, gives the painter greater control, while the hot printing paper gives the possibility of getting sharper details. In relation to the weight of the paper, it is considerably heavier than normal paper so that it does not crumble or curl during use. Finally, we have the format that can be in block or individual sheet. If using the second option, it is advantageous to tape the edges of the paper over another surface to prevent curling or warping of the paper.

How to paint in watercolor - Types of paper

Brushes and pigments

There are several types of brushes, from large to small, hard to soft, that you can experiment with in order to obtain the desired illustration. Large format brushes are usually used most initially to spread out the pigments. When the surface of the paper already has multiple colors, it is easier to use small brushes to continue to overlay the color smoothly.

Regarding color, there are watercolor tubes that allow for greater use of it, with greater freedom and flexibility in terms of color mixing, and liquid inks that facilitate the return to colors that were once mixed.

Julius Chapel | Artists | P55 - The platform of Art

painting techniques

To understand how watercolor painting works, we will present some techniques to get started comfortably in this world. In the Wet-on-wet method , as the name implies, wet ink is placed on the wet paper. Start by wetting the surface with the brush dipped in water, sliding it to build small rectangles on the paper. Afterwards, wet the brush with a color of your choice and experiment with sliding or dabbing on the rectangles to get different results when the paint dries. As there is not much control over the paint when using this technique, after drying interesting textures may appear or the colors will appear less vibrant. To obtain more precise shapes there is the Wet-on-dry technique. Here you can paint freely on dry paper, just add paint with a large wet brush. The texture depends on the amount of paint you mix with the water: if you add a lot of water, it will be more diluted and vice versa.

How to paint watercolor

To practice the effect of uniforming a color, there is a technique popularly known as ombré. Start by putting some water on your palette and next to the desired color. Wet the brush and paint the paper only with water (no pigment). Slowly and subtly add a little pigment to your water, continuing to paint where you left off. Repeat this process adding more and more paint. During the process, don't forget to clean the brush on a piece of cloth or paper, so that in the end there is a good transition from water to paint. When finished it should have a strip of paint, light initially and thick and concentrated at the end, as in this example.

How to paint watercolor

If you want to mix more colors in a building, you have to work slowly with two colors to get the transition. To understand which colors work best in a composition and to be able to correctly express the desired emotions, you can visualize the color wheel. In this example, start painting with pure yellow paint. This should not be too diluted or concentrated. Clean the brush and mix some orange and yellow slowly. This color transition should be light and smooth, so try to avoid changing the tone too much. Gradually, mixing the two colors will achieve a nice gradient between yellow and orange, as in the example.

How to paint watercolor

To create shaped compositions first try simple elements like circles, triangles, squares and hearts. Afterwards, paint the background a different color, using a larger brush to fill in the large areas and a thin one to paint around the shapes.

Now that you know the essentials, it is essential to experiment little by little with techniques, colors and brushes in order to create your own compositions. At P55, you can discover many artists who use this technique in their artistic productions, such as Paulo Ossião , Júlio Capela , Elena Polyakova , Carlos Carneiro , among many others.

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