Watercolor is a term that reflects the essence of this technique. For drawing, artists do not use oil paints, but special watercolors, which are diluted with water before application. In addition, sometimes the sheet is additionally wetted. Hence the name — from the Latin word aqua ("water").

On this basis, the terms acquarello and aquarelle appeared in Italian and French.

Watercolor allowed artists to expressively convey the effects of airiness and humidity. For a long time, painters struggled with the problem of displaying rain on works, and it was the watercolorists who successfully solved this problem. This technique is ideal for landscape painters working in the open air.

Watercolor is the most capricious and unpredictable technique, with paints that are difficult to work with, they are poorly stored. But the artists who have mastered it create works with indescribable nuances of shades and semitones. The basis of the word came from Latin: the root "aqua" means "water". The name of the paint in French sounds like "aquarelle" in translation "watery", "water paint".

This kind of art with a centuries-old history was not widespread for a long time, in the Middle Ages the technique was used mainly to create sketches. At the beginning of the XVIII century, British artists began to actively work with watercolors, developing basic principles of technique. This period is called the "golden age" of style development.

The pigments of watercolor paint have a very fine grinding. This is necessary so that the paint is more transparent when applied. Also, watercolors have a very wide choice of colors, which is certainly very convenient for such a technique as lasing. For amateur paints, for example, children's, in the composition of watercolors, the binder is honey. In professional paints, the binder is, as a rule, gum arabic – a hard, transparent resin from dried acacia juice. Such a component in the composition allows you to abundantly dilute the paint with water, without visible loss of color. And it also does not allow watercolors to roll into drops.

Apply it on cardboard or paper with squirrel hair brushes. There are two techniques for working with watercolors: on a dry or wet sheet of Whatman. Even a small child who has picked up a brush for the first time can work on dry cardboard or paper. A simple pencil is applied to the image. Usually, at this stage of the work, such types of drawing as a sketch and a sketch are used. First, light areas are painted, then dark. This is done so that the colors do not mix. Mistakes are corrected by swiping on paper soaked in water with a sponge or brush.

Watercolor is an image technique that combines the properties of painting (a rich palette of colors and shades) and graphics (lack of relief, applying a smear with a thin layer).

History of watercolor painting

The art direction became more widespread later than painting and graphics. The predecessor of watercolors can be considered the technique of frescoes, artists of the Middle Ages used the style to create sketches and sketches.

The founder of watercolor painting in the Renaissance is considered to be the German artist Albrecht Durer, Anthony van Dyck and Giovanni Castiglione worked in this style. Examples of work are isolated, the technique was not widespread.

The classics of watercolors were brought to perfection in England at the turn of the XVIII-XIX centuries, this was due to the innovative ideas of Thomas Gertin and Joseph Turner. The popularity of watercolor technique was exacerbated by the emerging fashion for portrait miniatures.

The famous watercolorist Samuel Palmer, the prefaelite Lucy Madex Brown, the post-impressionist Paul Cezanne contributed to the development of art. In 1804, the Society of Watercolorists was formed. In the middle of the XIX century, the technique became popular in the USA and France.

What are the watercolor techniques

Watercolor combines many interesting techniques. Art historians classify them according to various principles, in particular — by the moisture content of the sheet and brush, by the layering of the color overlay. Combining these approaches, we get the following detailed classification of types of watercolors:

Work on dry paper ("on dry") — provides control over the paint. This kind of watercolor is also called Italian. It has two subspecies.


This artistic approach is divided into:

Work "dry on dry" (that is, the image is applied with a pressed brush). Very clear strokes are obtained, and the product is as close as possible to the graph. Work "wet on dry". With a wet brush, the master applies strokes next to each other, slightly grabbing the borders. Shades are mixed, expressive iridescences are obtained.

Multilayered (lessirovka). The avarelist artist applies transparent brushstrokes on top of the previous ones, already dried, in order to prevent mixing. This brings watercolor painting closer to oil painting and allows you to create very realistic works. The color turns out to be intense, full-sounding, but the feeling of lightness remains.

Work on a wet sheet ("wet", "wet").

This is the so-called English watercolor. The control of the paint causes difficulties, but the artist gets transparent shades with gentle and soft transitions of tones.

There are two options:

"Wet on wet" — provides a strong blurring effect.

"Dry on wet" — allows you to better control the paint.

Sometimes the A la Prima method is singled out — it is implied that the work is done in one sitting, without further improvements, until the material has dried up. The works of "a la prima" look fresh and emotional. They cannot be copied, since it is impossible to repeat the blur exactly.

It is also possible to combine English and Italian techniques in one work. Mixed media allows you to get various effects: for example, a detailed drawing of reality with a blurred background.

The drawing on a partially moistened sheet gives interesting effects. For example, by making a long stroke, the watercolorist gets a different drawing on dry and wet fragments.

In all four main variants (Italian, English, combined, with fragmentary humidification), you can work with both a wrung-out brush and a wet one. In addition, sometimes a semi-dry (semi-moist) brush is used. Paper is not the only material for watercolorists. They also work with silk, parchment, cardboard, ivory and other materials, but quite rarely.

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