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Watercolor

Sat Jan 25, 2014, 7:31 PM






Foreword by techgnotic






Christopher Behrens, the 7-year deviantART member contributing this wonderful history of watercolors to depthRADIUS, along with curating artists and interviews, is a modern renaissance man held in high regard by fans of his unique artistic vision. He is an independent filmmaker, author, and a masterful watercolorist in his own right. His gallery of works can be perused here.







Watercolor by ctbehrens






T

he history of painting begins with watercolor as it is the oldest painting medium. Ground pigments have been unearthed in Africa dating as far back as 60,000 B.C., and we are all familiar with the Paleolithic cave paintings in Spain and France.












Lascaux Caves containing Paleolithic wall paintings and engravings thought to date Magdalenian times (c13,000–8500)




The Egyptians used water-based paints to decorate their tombs and temples. With the pulp of the papyrus plant they became one of the early adopters of watercolors on paper.


The Chinese have a long-standing tradition with watercolor dating back to 4,000 B.C. It was their developments in paper making production around 100 A.D. that brought about a marked advancement in technique and sheer amount of produced work.


It wasn’t for another 1,000 years before mass paper manufacturing came to Europe, as the Arabs, having learned the basics of papermaking from the Chinese and making improvements of their own, spread the new product to the West—namely Spain, Italy and France.










Lascaux Cave


Artwork (c13,000–8500)









However, for the next several hundred years, watercolor use in the West was primarily used for religious book ornamentation (Book of Kells), and for frescoes as the water-based pigments were applied to wet plaster (Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel).











Sistine Chapel ceiling 1508-12 Fresco Cappella Sistina, Vatican.







The Book of Kells containing the four Gospels of the New Testament, created by Celtic monks circa 800.







In the 1500’s, the first acknowledged master of watercolor, German artist, Albrecht Durer, developed new techniques which showcased the luminous properties achievable with watercolor on paper (Durer’s The Hare.)




Despite Durer’s advances, over the next 300 years watercolor was used mainly as an aid in preparatory sketches for oil paintings, or as a simple medium for wildlife & botanical illustrations, and map-making.









Hare


Albrecht Dürer(1502)









It wasn’t until the late 18th century with the introduction of specially treated and sized papers produced exclusively for the medium that watercolor painting as we now know it gained its prominent place in Western art.




The 19th and 20th century saw a revolution in watercolor techniques, with many modern masters pushing the envelope of this ancient medium.




The artists of the 21st century, many of them here on deviantART continue brilliantly in their tradition.









Vincent Le Café de nuit by Vincent van Gogh (1888).







Study for American Interior by Charles Sheeler (1934).







Carolina Parakeet from The Birds of America, by John James Audubon (1880).









Muddy Alligators by John Singer Sargent (1917).





Self Portrait by Mary Cassatt (1880).









Mink Pond


Winslow Homer(1891)











Interview


with


reubennegron







1

What are you favorite brushes, paints, paper?



I prefer to use Arches Cold Press paper, typically the 300gsm weight. I also pretty much exclusively use Winsor & Newton Artist Colors. My brushes vary. I'm a fan of the Raphael Kolinsky brushed but lately Ive been relying heavily on the Escoda Prado brushes. I tend to beat up my brushes so I also like the Winsor & Newton Sceptre Gold series for their affordability and durability.





2

What artists have influenced you?



I've been influenced by a number of artists across several different media. My work is very narrative so I am drawn to anyone that can tell a story or convey a mood. I value empathy over technical skill. Some of my favorites (in no particular order) are Nan Goldin, Andrew Wyeth, Stevie Wonder, Stanley Kubrick, Bernardo Bertolucci, The Talking Heads, Neil Gaiman, John Gardner, Douglas Adams, Dave McKean, Kent Williams, Diego Velázquez, Gregory Crewdson and Tori Amos.





3

What drew you to watercolors?



Oddly enough, I started using watercolors out of necessity rather than choice. In college I painted with oils and the fumes from the medium and thinners started giving me migraines so I switched to watercolors to avoid any longterm health issues. I've never looked back.







4

What is your favorite aspect of watercolors?



I love that every time I begin a new piece it's as though I've never used the medium before. Watercolors always present a different challenge—from taking into account the humidity in the air, the quality of the paper, or the complexity of a drawing, to the mineral content of the water or the wear of my brushes... that is always some variable i can't control so I have to be flexible and quick on my toes while I paint. It's controlled chaos.





5

What do you feel is your unique technique/skill with watercolors? Weakness?



I think my strength in watercolors doesn't necessarily come from a learned technique but rather a desire to challenge people's perceptions of what a watercolor can be. It's such a beautiful medium but is often regaled to second class status under oils. I enjoy creating dense, opaque watercolors that are often frustrating to create but fulfilling when they demonstrate the versatility of the paint. As for my weakness - Sometimes I wish I had someone standing behind me telling me to stop. I often find myself over-working a painting and then struggling to get back to where I was the day before.












6

Are you a purist? Do you consider the use of gouache/masking fluid cheating?



I rarely use masking fluids in my own work but that's a personal choice. The same goes for gouache. Up until very recently I'd regularly employ gouache as pert of my paintings but now it's all pure watercolor. I stopped using them for color and opacity issues over anything else. As for masking fluid - I have from time to time used them but I like seeing the flaws in my work and often try to capitalize on overlaps or drips.





7

How long does your average watercolor take to paint?



It depends on the size of the piece, complexity of the drawing and the weather. Some can take a few days while others have taken me months. On average I'd say I'm hovering around 2 weeks for a large-scale (40”x26”) watercolor.







8

With the rise of Digital Art what do you see as the future of traditional art/watercolors?



Digital art is a tool, not a replacement. It has it's place right along side oils, acrylics, graphite, charcoal and anything else we use to express our selves. I embrace digital art and find it new and fun and intriguing. But it's no threat to traditional mediums.





9

What question would you like to be asked?



I get a lot of questions about my technique and tools and I'm also no stranger to discussing the larger, social issues that surround my work. Honestly, rather than being asked questions I love hearing how about others' reactions to my work how it affects them or how they read it. My work is only partial stories that I depend on the viewers to complete. Hearing how each painting is seen by the audience never gets old.













Interview


with


taho






1

What are you favorite brushes, paints, paper?



I like Robert Simmons Sapphire series for brushes. Dick Blick and American Journey for Paint. Strathmore for paper, sometimes Arches.





2

What artists have influenced you?



Same artists that inspire me digitally—dcwj, krenz, Cushart.







3

What drew you to watercolors?



I was late to sign up for an acrylic class and watercolor was the only one left. I like it now, though, so good thing that happened, right?





4

What is your favorite aspect of watercolors?



The ability to spread a lot or a little pigment quickly and being able to use a blowdryer while painting to speed up the process.










5

What do you feel is your unique technique/skill with watercolors? Weakness?



I paint fast, I can make small details that others usually use watercolor pencil or pen for. I don't like to state my weaknesses.





6

Are you a purist? Do you consider the use of gouache/masking fluid cheating?



I'm a purist. I wouldn't call it cheating, but it should be mentioned and categorized properly.







7

How long does your average watercolor take to paint?



35 minutes to 1 hour.





8

With the rise of Digital Art what do you see as the future of traditional art/watercolors?



I think traditional art will always have a unique appeal to people.











Interview


with


Dark134






1

What are you favorite brushes, paints, paper?



I'm using some no brand brushes I've bought at my old school, my paintings usually have really small size so I love to use some nails painting brushes. Leningrad watercolors—Daler Rowney/ W&N Cotman paper.





2

What artists have influenced you?



So many many I can't remember all of them... I love many artists at Pixiv.







3

What drew you to watercolors?



I chose silk-painting to study in university. That was the time I had my chances to see many beautiful watercolor paintings. Watercolor gives me complicated and simple feelings at the same time.





4

What is your favorite aspect of watercolors?



I love to see watercolor most when someone uses it to describe the light. Light in watercolor is so pure. And when the deep in watercolor is made by many many layers, I've lost in that.












5

What do you feel is your unique technique/skill with watercolors? Weakness?



I think I have a patience with drawing details. I usually spend a lot of time on some tiny details. I don't know how to use wet effects much. That's really a shame...





6

Are you a purist? Do you consider the use of gouache/masking fluid cheating?



Maybe I'm almost a purist. Because I don't use effects much so I rarely use masking fluid but I think we can use any way to creat a painting. I hope I could find a good way to use those tools.







7

How long does your average watercolor take to paint?



About 8 to 20 hours.





8

With the rise of Digital Art what do you see as the future of traditional art/watercolors?



Although Digital Art may rule the world but I don't think digital art could show the artist's emotion better than traditional art. Traditional art always touches viewers's hearts and the artists themselves. So I think Traditional art never could/ should be replaced.












Interview


with


mariofdy






1

What are you favorite brushes, paints, paper?



Brushes: No matter, I can show photo of my set - must be not destroyed.


Paints: (1) Koh-i-Noor "brilliant water colours"—very strong colours, red and blue, sometimes orange. (2) Ecoline (talens), 2 colors, Ultramarine and Vermilion. (3) Van Gogh by Talens—"Classic" water colours, standart set, burnt sienna, ultramarine, vermilion, ochre, phtalo blue, celureum. (4) White Nights—Russian artist watercolor, standart set (24 colours box).


Paper: Just watercolor paper, bought as peaces 100x70 cm and then cut to smaller fragments, ussually A3, A4 or A5.







2

What drew you to watercolors?



I had some free time when my son was born and i couldn't work as an architect - i had to stay at home and had onle few hours a day to work. All I could do was to draw and to paint.





3

What is your favorite aspect of watercolors?



Speed of work and no need to have a lot of equipment.












4

What do you feel is your unique technique/skill with watercolors? Weakness?



A. using strong bright colours, which gives strong contrasting effect & B. Weakness... Don't know... I'm at the beginning of my carreer as an artist. I have still a lot of to learn.





5

Are you a purist? Do you consider the use of gouache/masking fluid cheating?



I'm not purist masking fluid is not cheating, according to me. It simple gives more options not available if you don't use it. Everything is ok to achieve effect. Even using coloured pencils, ink drawing, transfering details or fragments straight from photo, etc. Cheating is, if you use masking fluid and says you don't, or use a photo and pretend you draw without it.







6

How long does your average watercolor take to paint?



Depends from size, A4 - 4 hours up to 8 hours





7

With the rise of Digital Art what do you see as the future of traditional art/watercolors?



Plain - air painting, making quick notes, design, early stages of designing, concept drawings, ceating unique art (not mass prints.) I think one should join elements (advantages) of digital and traditional art. For example, as an architect sometimes i have to create a view of designed building, for architectural competition etc. I think it's better to create simple 3D virtual model, print it and then to color it using water colours, than to make photorealistic rendering using only computer.











Interview


with


EsthervanHulsen






1

What are you favorite brushes, paints, paper?



In water color I paint with Windsor and Newton, Rembrandt and van Gogh.





2

What artists have influenced you?



Carl Brenders, James Gurney, Terry Whitlatch, Joe Weatherly, Co Loerakker and Edward Aldrich.







3

What drew you to watercolors?



It is a very friendly medium to work with. No toxins, which are bad for the environment and health. It dries fast, and one can "push and pull" after the paint dries. It also lends itself very well to use colored pencils on top.





4

What is your favorite aspect of watercolors?



The fact that you can push and pul the paint after it dries. One also has to work purposely, there is only a limited amount of layers one can apply before the painting starts to look muddy.












5

What do you feel is your unique technique/skill with watercolors? Weakness?



I use some colored pencil in addition. And take the most out of the medium when it comes to detail.





6

Are you a purist? Do you consider the use of gouache/masking fluid cheating?



Absolutely no problem. It is important to save the white areas on the paper, because white does not et whiter that the white of the paper, but I also use gouache on top.







7

How long does your average watercolor take to paint?



Depends on the size. Tiny paintings can be done within a few days. Larger works can take up to two months.





8

With the rise of Digital Art what do you see as the future of traditional art/watercolors?



I think that Digital Art is just a new medium, added to all the other mediums that were already there. It is a new way of making art, but it is not better or worse that more traditional mediums. It is just another medium to choose from.





9

What is your favorite subject to paint?



Animals and nature, now living and extinct.











Interview


with


MistiqueStudio






1

What are you favorite brushes, paints, paper?



Escoda brushes (Toray Gold, round), Winsor & Newton watercolors (basic palette, primary colors) and Arches cold press 140 lb paper.





2

What artists have influenced you?



Gustav Dore, Arthur Rackham, John Bauer, Theodore Kittelsen, Brian Froud, Jean Baptist-Monge, Susan Seddon Boulet, Jody Bergsma, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and a BOATLOAD of other fabulous deviantART artist.







3

What drew you to watercolors?



I think I've always just loved the "look" of watercolors. More than any other medium, I think, a watercolor painting is instantly recognizable as such. I love the effects one can achieve with water, salt, etc., what texture and distinction can be gained by just letting watercolors "do their thing". And, of course, paintings don't take months to dry, and I don't have to trash used paint that's dried out.












4

What is your favorite aspect of watercolors?



Oddly enough, my favorite thing about watercolor is what an unforgiving medium it is. For the most part there is no "Undo" button. Even with such traditional mediums as oils and acrylics, mistakes, and things you'd just rather not have done, are fixed relatively easily. I suppose I feel this gives anyone who's really good with watercolors a bit of a prestige boost, and it also forces me to not exercise my unflagging OCD-ness. Once it's done, it's done, and there's no going back.





5

What do you feel is your unique technique/skill with watercolors? Weakness?



Haha, I'm still working on that! I think that, what I try to achieve in my paintings (not to say that I always get there) is the impression that they were painted by someone who not only looked, but *saw*.


I may have to explain that. I see a lot of paintings whose backgrounds include e.g. trees, mountains, flowers, etc. And the artist thought, "I know what a tree looks like; this is easy. And he draws a tree. Or what he thinks a tree looks like. Often the result is simple, even a little childish, and looks very much like an afterthought on which the subject was unceremoniously hung. If the subject is taken away, the background looks no better than scaffolding.


When I sketch, I look at everything. What does a curled-up autumn leaf *really* look like? Or mushrooms? Branches, trees? My aim is that, if the subject of the painting was taken away, its setting would still look plausible, and would moreover be enjoyable in and of itself.


As for a weakness: obsessing too much over the details I love. And bad anatomy.





6

Are you a purist? Do you consider the use of gouache/masking fluid cheating?



I used to use both masking fluid and gouache a lot more than I do these days. If I can avoid using them I will. But I don't considering myself a purist. To me, more important than what materials I did or didn't use is the effect achieved, and if I have to stoop to gouache to get it, so be it.







7

How long does your average watercolor take to paint?



Starting from scratch, including the drawing/sketching phrase, anywhere from two to seven days. Longer if I procrastinate.





8

With the rise of Digital Art what do you see as the future of traditional art/watercolors?



I made a digital painting or two back in the day. When I first acquired a tablet no one was more excited at the prospect of digital art than me. But for some reason digital art has lost its shine in my eyes. Maybe I'm just getting old (-fashioned), but nowadays I like to see a painting whose maker got his/her hands dirty. I like to imagine the texture of the paper/canvas of the original. I like to know brushes were wet, palettes were besmirched, and strokes were made whose author couldn't take them back with the click of a button. I like to know that, somewhere in the world, that painting *exists*.


Although there's a lot of amazing digital art out there, I'd like to think there will always be a place for art made and appreciated by people who feel the way I do. I know a lot of work goes into making an outstanding digital painting, but I'd like to think there will always be those who appreciate art created in the absence of an "Undo" button.





9

What advice would you give to someone just starting out with watercolors?



Don’t be discouraged if your first attempts don’t turn out the way you wanted. If they do turn out the way you wanted, I want your secret. Practice. Practice practice practice. Paint things you've never painted before. Paint things you're afraid of painting. Be fearless: watercolors are not for the meek. Don't avoid painting something you really want to paint because you think you're not good enough yet. You can always do it over. You'll never be as good, in your own eyes, as you think you ought to be. Don’t think, “This turned out horribly.” Think instead, “I learned so much from this; I’ll do much better next time.” Then start on next time.











Interview


with


agnes-cecile






1

Your artworks are often described as “explosions” or “eruptions” of colors that capture in their moment of ignition an infinite variety of internal fires: moods, passions, melancholies, joys, sorrows. Is this method of generating the subtlest of emotions from a burning vortex of swirling colors a conscious strategy or simply the outcome of the evolution of your artistic process?



My paintings talk about feelings, each emotion is like an inner energy needing to have a form on paper, these explosions and implosions are the shapes of this strong invisible but concrete aspect of inner life. But to express different moods, I use different techniques too, the evolution of tools is important to be able to work with a diverse array of feelings. Sometimes this energy is inside, sometimes it needs to go outside, sometimes it's more violent and other times is more sweet.


Watching how a painting is born helps to better understand it, the story behind it. Often the little fight between the canvas and the artist is more relevant of the canvas itself, the relationship with the work is just there. I should make more videos! but it takes me a lot of time.





2

How did you get involved with Speed Art videos on YouTube? When you are creating a portrait from the fires of your many-colored watercolors, are you trying to capture the personality, in a momentary expression, of someone you know or of no one in particular?



Often I have some imaginary figures in my mind. I give life to some characters that help me to talk. So, they are no one in particular and also someone in my mind too. I never use friends or similar subject matter in my works, I prefer unknown characters where I find different aspects of me.







3

For an artist whose works are said to so dynamically “explode,” “bleed,” and “flow,” is there a great deal of physical and emotional catharsis in the creation of your artworks? Is what you do the greatest personal therapy any person could ever practice?



Yes, of course. As I mentioned, my paintings are a page of a diary, all of the time there is something big that burns inside my chest, I need to put it on paper, I’m quite uncomfortable to write or talk in these moments, painting helps me to find solutions to my troubles. It’s without doubt a therapy. Often my paintings speak more than me!





4

What can you tell young artists who worry that they will never be able to develop a unique signature style, instantly identifiable, as you have, to anchor and continue to build a career in art upon?



Don't think in those terms, stop spending hours just looking at other artists and take a little more time with yourself. All of these outside images could smother you. It's ok to throw a lot of drawings out when you are learning and just starting out. This is normal. Keep spending the most time on what you love, firstly for yourself, then you will start to receive the rewards of your hard work and also receive many a “bravo!!” if there is a deep passion within you, everything comesnaturally!












Questions

For the Reader





  1. Should every artwork be judged and appreciated for its creative impact, emotional/spiritual appeal and sheer beauty regardless of the production medium?
  2. Are there digital artworks being produced currently that you have found to be every bit as engaging, satisfying and catharsis-producing as your most beloved watercolor (traditional medium) favorites?







The history of painting begins with watercolor as it is the oldest painting medium. Ground pigments have been unearthed in Africa dating as far back as 60,000 B.C., and we are all familiar with the Paleolithic cave paintings in Spain and France.

Writers: ctbehrens, techgnotic
Designers: marioluevanos

For more articles like this, visit depthRADIUS
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:iconbretayal:
Bretayal Featured By Owner May 7, 2014
Agnes <3
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:iconsobhanmp:
sobhanmp Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. i believe yes but for ranking i think it's better to be more precise as possible 
2.yes
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:iconcsanchezp:
csanchezp Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2014
excellent article!! congratulations
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:iconrhennx:
RhennX Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love how the article was designed! That was a visual journey of it's own :D
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:iconmarioluevanos:
marioluevanos Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
Thank you :) 
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:icondzidzai88:
Dzidzai88 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2014
Awesome stuff guyz. I am so inspired.
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:iconthenamelessonenecro:
Thenamelessonenecro Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Me encanto, muy buen trabajo!
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:iconkatantika:
Katantika Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Excelente trabajo.
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:iconjogart:
JOGART Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2014
What a useful and interesting review of styles and techniques. Thanks and congratulations.
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:iconsuisaigenki:
SuisaiGenki Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2014  Professional Traditional Artist
Amazing ! 
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