Watermedia Techniques

In 2008 I began to adapt some of the traditional watercolor techniques for use with the new fluid acrylics that behave much like watercolor but have the advantages of acrylic and framed without glass.

The term ‘watercolor’ has been evolving since the beginning. Generally watercolors are those paints made with water soluble pigments. While oriental sumi painting is done with more opaque watercolor paints, in the west the colors tend to be more transparent and rely on layers to build depth.

Artists like John Singer Sargent and Whistler commonly used Chinese white, an opaque pigment for the whites but modern watercolorists often prefer to leave the white of the paper for white accents.

For many years I have used the traditional transparent watercolors for my ‘Woodland Watercolors’ and depend on glazing layers for depth of color. Recently I became interested in painting with fluid acrylics (Golden Brand). These are technically ‘water media’ colors since they are diluted with water and, since they are thinner than tube acrylics, they can be used in the same thin washes I am used to. They are sold in small or larger plastic bottles and have the consistency of thin cream, much thinner than tube acrylic and in many cases they seem more transparent.

These paints can behave much like traditional transparent waters and yet, since they are acrylic, can be used on panels and framed without glass. The Ampersand watercolor panels are coated with a surface that resembles cold press watercolor paper but of course the colors do not sink into it like paper. Glazing layers are still possible.

I find that a thin watery color painted in an area on the panel can still have a thicker blob of color dropped in it to create a similarly flowing effect as done with traditional materials. The colors do dry faster since the panel is non absorbent but you can still get backruns and blooms on purpose or by accident using the thinned fluid acrylic colors. Like traditional colors, some pigments (quinacridones, for instance) do spread faster and more dramatically than other colors.

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