Artspan Portal: Watercolors

Introduction to Watercolors

Imagine the waterfront in Paros, Greece...cobalt blue water, the soft dabs of sky. The bright flowers and white sidewalks winding to houses with curved rooftops. Can you imagine any medium more perfect than watercolor for capturing this scene?By suspending colorant in a water-soluble liquid, watercolors create, as might be expected, a thin, clean pigment that rests tight against many surfaces such as the paper, papyrus, plastic, vellum, leather, fabric, canvas, and wood. Painting with watercolor has an elemental quality evidenced by its longevity in human history and its use as a beginner's medium. The earliest cave painting of Paleolithic Europe were versions of watercolor. And many children begin their experiments in painting with a watercolor set: a flimsy white plastic tray embedded with bright pods of color that they learn to dab a wet brush into and then slosh onto nearby paper.Despite its ease of use for beginners, the medium also offers great precision and depth for advanced artists. The ancient Chinese used monochrome watercolors used for brush painting and scroll painting. They passed the medium into India and Ethiopia and Japan, but it wasn't until the Renaissance that watercolors were used to paint botany, wildlife, and landscapes. For a long while after, watercolors were widely fashionable as travel documentation.. Watercolors lost some popularity when it was discovered that the pigments did not archive well. Now that they have been made more durable, there has been a resurgence of the popularity and prestige of watercolor.Some famous watercolorists include the poet William Blake, who created large works in watercolor; Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Maurice Prendergast; and John Singer Sargent, considered by many the finest watercolor painter of all time.

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Resources: Watercolors

Art Suppliers (see all)
Blick Art Materials
PO Box 1267 Galesburg, IL 61402-1267 Toll-free 800-828-4548 Fax 800-621.8293
Utrecht Art Supplies
The Trusted Resource since 1949... 6 Corporate Drive Cranbury, NJ 08512-3616 800.223.9132 6...
Jerry's Artarama
5325 Departure Drive Raleigh, NC 27616 800.827.8478 919.878.6782
Associations (see all)
American Watercolor Society
New York, Ny
By membership society that hosts exhibitions and scholarship programs.
Annapolis Watercolor Club
The Annapolis Watercolor Club was founded in 1975 by a small group of artists under the...
Arizona Watercolor Association
Sun City West, Az
A nonprofit organization, that hosts national juried exhibits.
Books (see all)
The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques
Mayer, Ralph. Various Editions. New York: Viking Penguin, 1991.
The Complete Guide to Painting and Drawing: Techniques and Materials
Hayes, Colin. New York: Gallery Books, 1981.
The Wilcox Guide To The Best Watercolor Paints
Wilcox, Michael. Cloverdale, Perth, Western Australia: Artways, 1991.
Education (see all)
Washington University in St. Louis
St. Louis, Missouri
MFA in Painting
University of Massachussetts Dartmouth
North Dartmouth, Ma
MFA in Painting
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada
MFA in Painting
Education (see all)
The University of the Arts
Philadelphia, Pa
MFA in Ceramics, Painting, and Sculpture
The University of Alabama
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
MFA in Studio Art with a Concentration in Painting
Galleries (see all)
Air de Paris
Paris, France
Current exhibit features watercolors as well as other mediums.
Braunstein/Quay Gallery
San Francisco, Ca
one of the first in the nation to exhibit sculptural clay, fiber art, art...
Gallery 71
New York, Ny
The primary focus of the gallery since itís opening has been on works of art...
Museums (see all)
Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum
New York, NY
Guggenheim Museum
New York, NY
Baltic Centre for Contemporay Art
Gateshead Quays South Shore Road Gateshead NE8 3BA UK +44 (0)191 478 1810 Housed in a...
Publications (see all)
American Artist
Devoted to the realism in art and excellence in their medium, whether oil paint, watercolor,...
Half Sheet
A quarterly Publication of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society, includes articles, events, and tips.
Modern Painters
The definative international source of news and analysis of contemporary art and culture.