Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Water colors, simply means paint that is soluble with water.

Some pigments are transparent and others or opaque but still water based. Each has its own purpose in painting, The opaque paints cover each other up quite like oils when they dry. Some paint with a thicker texture. Some dry to a
permanent solid and can't be lifted.These are the characteristics of water based paints.

Transparent water color: Paints as a dye and soaks into the surface of the paper. Transparent uses lots of water and colors and are designed to move through each other giving interesting effects. Transparent can be thinned out and used as a glaze on top of other colors. It is most popular because of the softness it can create when wet paint is applied over a wet surface.

Opaque Water Colors: There are several different Opaque watercolors.

Gouache: A little more fluid but best for large areas where the colors need to dry to an evenly velvet finish. Large brilliant colored areas without streaks. Covers well over darker surface and holds color well. Very light fast for permanency.

Casein: In all intents and purpose casein is like a gouache. It is probably a brand name difference. It covers the same.
The most valued difference is it comes back to life if when re-wet.

Tempera: A less expensive gouache used mainly on schools and posters. Kids like it because it's easy to use and washable.

Egg Tempera:
An older technique used by mixing egg yolk into the paint (usually gouache) for permanency. The technique is used by artists like Andrew Wyeth, and is becoming popular today because of the polychromatic effects, that it gives the painting. Wyeth painted up to 12 different colored washes over a white wall. The egg makes the paint permanent when it dries.
Fresco: Painting over the top of wet plaster. When it dries the colors are embedded in the plaster and is very permanent.The last supper by Leonardo de Vinci is a fresco. The Sistine Chapel that was painted by Michelangelo is a fresco. Very popular in early times on large wall murals.

Acrylics: Some say this is the best of all worlds. They are close to oils as any othe medium. Vivid in color, they cover well and the can be used like a transparent watercolor. They work well on board or paper. They are very permanent like oils. Those who use acrylics swear by them.

When I was an illustrator in Chicago we all painted in acrylics. If and when you learn to use they are wonderful. The drawbacks of this media is that it dries fast and the palette will change because you have to keep mixing the colors your using. When it dries it can't be revived. You can paint over the other colors but it's hard to match them. It is hard to get the paint out of the brushes so don't use your good watercolor brushes unless you clean them well.

Do some of your own research, and try some or mix them up with each other.

More to come...