Technique Tuesday: Watercolor

Technique Tuesday watercolor

What is it?

The topic of today’s post is a medium that many folks (and certainly anyone who had a childhood art class!) are familiar with: watercolor. One of the very oldest types of paint, watercolor consists of pigments suspended in a water-soluble solution. The brush is prepared with water, which thins the paint enough to spread on a surface, typically paper. The history of its use goes back very, very far (perhaps as far back as paleolithic Europe!) but–as with many things–it was not until the Renaissance that it became very popular and regularly used as an art medium. As time has gone by, both the quality of the paints themselves and the techniques have evolved, but the essence of the medium is a seemingly classic one that stands the test of time.

Examples from art history:

When watercolor first began to become more widely used after the Renaissance, it was still frequently reserved for sketches, copies, and botanical or wildlife illustration, rather than as a medium for a larger-sized, “finished” work due to its more delicate, transparent nature and the relative durability of the paint. In the 19th century, however, watercolors reached new heights of popularity and many notable artists began to experiment with the medium, with some beautiful results. For most of these artists, oil painting remained their primary and preferred medium, but many beautiful watercolors are found in their bodies of work as well, especially for subjects such as landscapes which were painted en plein air. In the 20th century, Andrew Wyeth and his grandson Jamie Wyeth (who favored drypoint watercolor, using very little water) were among several artists to give watercolor another boost in popularity, and it was during this time that artists began to experiment with the texture and application of the medium to the point that many modern watercolors are just as durable and colorful as oil and acrylic works.

AH WC Collage

(top row) Albrecht Durer, “Young Hare”; J. M. W. Turner, “Looking East from the Guidecca”; Jamie Wyeth, “The Raven Girl”; (bottom row) John Singer Sargent, “Karer See”; Paul Cezanne, “Medan Chateau and Village”; Vincent Van Gogh, “Fishing Boats on the Beach”

Examples from Principle Gallery:

Though the majority of the work that we show is oil painting, we have seen several lovely watercolor works come through the gallery over the years. One of the most notable examples in recent years was Iain Stewart, an artist originally from Scotland who now lives and works in the US. Iain first showed with us at last year’s incredibly successful Urban Aspect exhibition, and came back with a few stunning works for the Small Works show last December as well. Here’s a few examples of Iain’s watercolor art:

Stewart Collage

(left to right) Iain Stewart, “Oppede Le Vieux, Provence”; “Pitlochry, Scotland”; “Noon Cooking Fires- Akbiyik Cadessi, Istanbul”

If you’ve been following our blog or newsletter in recent months, you’ll have seen our announcement about the 10th Annual Juried Exhibition for the International Guild of Realism being held right here at Principle Gallery this August! As we are approaching the opening of the show, we’re getting more and more excited. This is a truly a fantastic show, with over 80 artists represented and 92 paintings and drawings included. Among these are some incredibly beautiful watercolor works: check it out!

IGOR WC Collage

(left) Marsha Chandler, “Good to the Core”; (middle) Rebecca Latham, “To the Nines”; (right) Rebecca Latham, “Evening Formal”

Keep an eye on our website, social media pages, and right here on the blog, as in the coming weeks we highlight other fantastic paintings from the upcoming exhibition, which has its opening reception Friday, August 28th!

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