Post by Gautam Shah




Water colours > Wikipedia image by Ariel Waldman from Munice

The distinguishing characteristic of water-colour painting is its translucency. The surface of the paper is visible through the thin water-colour pigments. It creates a veil-like effect that is very distinctive from the heavy and opaque painting in oil. Water Colour paintings have been created on papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum or leather, fabric, wood, and canvas.


Water colour brushes Wikipedia image by Vinegarten en wiki

Water-colour paints are produced by mixing dry powdered pigments with gum arabic (a natural gum of acacia trees). Solid water-colour cakes can be dissolved in water and applied to paper with a brush. Although water-colour is a relatively modern type of paint, but various water-based paints systems have been used throughout the recorded history. Water colours are usually transparent and seem of pure hue because the pigments are applied in a relatively pure form with virtually no fillers or substrate that dull the effect of the colours.


An unfinished water colour by William Berryman (created bet 1808-1816) using water colours, ink, and pencil.

Ancient Egyptian painted papyrus scrolls, and may be considered the first water colours system. Early oriental ink drawings are forms of monochrome water colour system. In medieval Europe, water-soluble pigments bound with a thickener derived from eggs were used in illuminated manuscripts. Frescoes in medieval times were also over-painted, touched or gradual shaded with a type of water-bound pigment stiffened with opaque white paint. Later types of opaque water-soluble paints such as gouache, which continue to be used today, and are closely related to water colours.


Self Potrait Paul Cezanne 1839-1906


The earliest true water colour art works are usually the landscapes and animal-studies of the 15th C. German master Albrecht, who work-finished his pen drawings of natural history subjects with water-colour. During the 16th and 17th C., artists used water-based paints only occasionally, and the custom was to use them in monochrome. Bistre (a brown pigment obtained from soot) and sepia (a blackish pigment prepared from the ink of squids) reached momentary prominence in the work of the French artist Claude Lorain and the Dutch master Rembrandt, both of whom used them to create expressive atmospheric effects of cloud and sky in their ink landscape drawings. The use of coloured water paints was rare, found only in the works of a few relatively minor masters, such as Hendrick van Avercamp and Adrien van Ostade. The important development in the history of water colour painting took place in England in the second half of the 18th C. As the Romantic movement.

Water Colour ART by John Singer Sargent 1856-1925



Water colour as a medium was ideal for out door painting hobby, as it dried quickly. It was also eminently suitable for rendering Romantic themes as stormy skies, fog and mist, and billowing foliage. At first, English water colour painters followed in the Dutch tradition, using washes of colour to heighten pen or pencil drawings. By the mid-1700s, however, artists began to apply water colour directly to paper without any previously drawn outlines. This development marked the maturity of water colour as an art form, and it became increasingly popular. Subject matter extended far beyond the landscape to include the mystical paintings of William Blake and the satiric social scenes of the cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson. In the hands of some artists, the peaceful, pastoral nature of water colour was replaced by drama, grandeur and sublimity. John Robert Cozens, for example, produced highly evocative water colours of the Swiss Alps. He was a prime influence on Thomas Girtin and J. M. W. Turner, the two great masters of English water colour. Turner, especially, in the first half of the 19th C., achieved a brilliancy and luminosity, that was never surpassed, his water colours were described as having been “painted with tinted steam“.



Water colour did not achieve much prominence in other European countries, although it did affect the style of painting in other mediums. In India transparent water colours were often used for overlay effects in miniature paintings that were mostly done in opaque colours. Raja Ravi Verma and later Tagore and his contemporaries exploited the ink and water colour as a transparent media. Water colours has been very expressive medium for traditional and modern painters of China, Korea, and Japan.

View of the Tiber at Rome - Brown ink and brown wash on paper ART by Claude Lorrain 1604–1682

Japanese water colour Art