Watercolours vs The Beginner Artist


Good for you! You've decided to try painting and no doubt you can not wait to start creating.The very thought of hanging a framed piece of art that you did for sure!

Now, the pivotal decision …. what kind of medium will you use?

Well let's see, you vaguely remember using watercolours back in
elementary or high school. There's no odor unlike oil paint, clean-up is a snap (dont 'need any paint thinner for watercolour) … a few brushes, a pad of paper and
presto-gallery opening here we come!

Right? Well … not exactly.

Watercolour painting even though it is widely known, is taught in every adult night school and almost everyone has tried it as a child-is not that easy.

It's probably the hardest to learn – nevermind master.

The biggest problem is that if you make a mistake-its almost next to impossible to correct. The paint is not very opaque.Meaning its not likely to cover over a mistake very well without being noticeable.

Its a finicky media, you can not really overbrush (repeatedly going over an area) since it will muddy the color or show streaks. You have to learn to load your brush with the perfect amount of water and paint so there's not an unexpected blob of water that creates a watermark or too much pigment which is difficult to remove since essentially watercolour paint is a staining material and can not be removed to easily
after being applied.It dries very quickly -so any color blending has to be done quickly and effectively.Essentially while working on a watercolour painting you have to be a
few steps ahead of what you are doing, that way since it dries so quickly you'll never get behind the eight ball and start making mistakes. There are products available that are used to delay the drying time and make the paint more manageable but some are expensive and work with limited results.

Which leads to the next topic- art materials.

Almost every department store has an arts and crafts section … with packages of 'watercolour' brushes, and pads of 'watercolour' paper.The beginner artist usually usually writes – to not spend a lot of money on quality materials since they are just learning … well the old addage you get what you pay for, certainly rings true in this circumstance.


Cheaper materials are cheaper for a reason. They are not made to last, and they do not do their job. Meaning, a new artist who is trying to learn a technique struggles with the brush either losing its hairs, does not absorb the medium or water well and the end result is poor.
Then during the painting the paper bubbles and does not lie flat or even starts to tear. The artist thinks its due to lack of ability or skill and does not even know that they are short changing themselves with sub-par tools and supplies.

I'm not saying that when you start you should buy the most expensive brush and the most prestigious paper available … rather go for the middle of the road. The mid-priced items should be what you are looking for, they'll handle better, making for positive results, and with
proper care will last much longer than 'cheapo' art supplies.

Make no mistake I'm not suggesting that when you are just starting out to completely avoid watercolour painting … not at all. Just consider all the other options … acrylic painting especially.

It has many benefits that a budding artist is looking for …

1. no smell

2. does not dry as quickly – but does not take as much time as oil paint

3. made a mistake – no problem! Paint over it … nobody will ever know.

3. easy clean up — as like watercolours acrylic is water based and clean up is easy and fast

4. range – depending on the amount of water used with the paint, can be treated as a watercolour or an oil painting.

The more water used, the more transparent the paint becomes..some artists use very little water or none at all resulting in a very bold and strong result – much like an oil painting.

If you are determined to start with watercolour painting- exercise patience and do not get frustrated, there's a learning curve with any new skill and expecting fantastic results right away is a recipe for disaster.
I suggest having a somewhat inexpensive pad of paper for learning techniques and the more pricey paper for doing a final piece.

Take a course, investigate to see if there are local art clubs or associations you can join. As well there are plenty of books on the subject for the do it youselfers …. most of all have fun with it, accept the fact there'll be some 'disadvantages' but it will all be worth it when you finish your first piece and can proudly say – I did that!


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