ome arrive at class with a set of prepackagedwatercolors provided by a paint manufacturer,” sheobserves. “Others may hold a list provided by aninstructor, but they have no idea why certain colors areincluded.” Still others, some teachers report, ask for thenames of the reddest red, the bluest blue, and the yel-lowest yellow, with the goal of buying the fewest paintspossible. These newcomers to watercolor assume thatby adding black to three good primaries they can obtaina full range of color—just like their color printers. Althoughin theory this may make sense, in reality it can only lead to disappointment and frustration. Here, Dressel explainswhat every artist should know about watercolor paints.
Opaque, TransparenT, GranulaTinG
Watercolor paints vary widely in their formulations, so it’simportant to experiment with different brands to find thepaints you prefer. Manufacturers generally classify thepaints as either transparent or opaque. Transparent paintsare created by mixing pigment with a transparent binder and a wetting agent. When applied to paper, much of thereflective white surface shines through. Opaque paints, on the other hand, dry to various degrees of opacity becauseof the addition of chalk. Some pigments, such as certainearth colors, leave particles behind on the painting sur-face and are therefore referred to as granulating pigments.Although most of Dressel’s palette consists of transparentpaints, she notes the importance of having a few opaqueearth tones on the palette: “I sometimes play translucent
Part 1: The Basics of
Knowing how watercolor paints are classied andhow the colors appear on paper and differ amongmanufacturers is the critical rst step for anywatercolor artist. Here’s what you need to know.