For many of us, one of the first art styles that we were ever introduced to during childhood was watercolor painting.
Watercoloring is one of the most simple yet majestic mediums in all the art world, with professional artists finding new ways to reinvent and explore the style in the contemporary sphere.
In this article, we’re telling you everything that your kindergarten teacher forgot to mention when dealing with watercolor painting. It’s going to be a joyful journey of appreciation!
What is Watercolor Painting?
Watercolor painting is a painting method that involves suspending pigment-based paints in a water-based solution. Therefore, the term watercolor refers to both the medium of expression as well as the resulting piece of artwork.
Watercolor paint is made with four principal ingredients: a pigment, gum arabic as binder, additives like glycerin, ox gall, or honey to alter viscosity and durability, and evaporating water to serve as a solvent for thinning or diluting the paint before application.
In elementary school, you likely painted watercolors on a piece of printing paper. But professional artists use a support — the material to which paint is applied — of watercolor paper. This paper is usually made entirely or partially with cotton, giving the surface the appropriate texture to minimize distortion when wet.
These cold-pressed papers beautifully highlight the translucent qualities that watercolors provide, exuding luminosity because the pigments are laid in a purer form where fewer fillers obscure the natural pigment coloration.
History of Watercolor Painting
The use of watercolors is an ancient technique in painting. East Asian cultures in China, Korea, and Japan used watercolors with ink as the dominant medium of the ancient age, often in monochrome black or brown for calligraphy and scroll painting.
Other cultures such as India and Ethiopia have strong watercolor traditionals as well.
Some excavists argue that watercolor painting even dates back to the cave paintings of paleolithic Europe, and has been confirmed to have been in use since at least Ancient Eyptian times. While the process for procuring watercolors would have been vastly different, the inherent qualities are strikingly similar to the contemporary format.
It wasn’t until the early 19th century (1800s) that Western artists began to discover the watercolor painting process in its modern form. In these times, American artists in particular regarded watercolor primarily as a sketching mechanism in preparation for a “finished” work with oil paints.
But as the 19th century wore on, watercolor painting as a leading style began to flourish, particularly in England. Watercolors were used to depict a wide variety of scenes, from landscapes to cityscapes to postcards.
Three English artists, in particular, are credited with establishing watercolor painting as an independent, mature painting medium: Paul Sandby, Thomas Girtin, and Joseph Mallord William Turner. These artists elevated the form into the highest pitch and power of refinement, which still contribute significantly to the contemporary watercolor works of today.
Modern Watercolor Painting
In the 20th and 21st centuries, watercoloring painting technique was embraced by some of the most famous artists in history, such as Georgia O’Keefe, Wassily Kandinsky, and John Marin (80% of his total works appear in watercolor).
Throughout the 1900s, watercolor painting was a dynamic player in the impressionist and post-impressionist movements for its ability to capture light in unique ways. It was also used for individualism, flourishing in places like the Cleveland School.
The rise of abstract expressionism partially hindered the use of watercolors and its popularity in the traditional art world, but lesser-known painters (particularly in Spain) continued to produce stunning works that, today, hold a very high price tag.
Where to Find Watercolor Painting Online
Think that watercolors could serve as a great addition to the walls of your home?
You’ve come to the right place. Here at Gallerima, we have artworks in every style, form, and medium, watercolors included.
Our online marketplace makes it easy to discover and buy art with assurance of safety and quality. We only source our art from the most talented artists across the world. And then, when you’re ready to buy, we use an escrow system that doesn’t charge your credit card until you’ve received and approved the painting.
It’s art buying the way that it should be.
And more than that, it’s art buying that is fun!
Check out our diverse collection of watercolor paintings to discover just how dynamic this art medium is. We’re sure that you won’t come away disappointed!