Why paint watercolor?
For me, the unpredictability and uncontrollable nature of watercolor make it the most exciting and expressive medium of all.
The opportunity to meander somewhere between mastery and complete lack of control during the course of a painting make it one of the most engaging mediums. This, plus the fact that it is quick, clean and portable, got me in thirty years ago and my enthusiasm has been growing ever since.
Traditionally, watercolor employed only thin, transparent washes of pigment. Some beautiful, delicate paintings came from this school of thought. Contemporary watercolor, however, allows for much greater freedom of technique and material.
The American Watercolor Society now accepts all aqua media (watercolor, acrylic, casein, gouache, egg tempera) but draws the line at collage and pastel.
Coolgardie Memories (1100x600) Watercolor, ink, gouache, acrylic charcoal and gesso
Moving from the accepted definition of watercolor into the realm of mixed media can open up a huge new range of possibilities. The excitement of blending watercolor with ink, pastel, collage and other water based media is one of the most addictive forms of expression. The process of building up, altering, editing, destroying and rebuilding allows a painting to develop a life and momentum of its own. You, as the artist, become almost a spectator, watching, judging and coaxing as the painting slowly comes to life.
I am often asked if it's OK to step outside the bounds of traditional watercolor. Is it against the rules? or the wrong thing to do? My answer is, as long as what you paint is produced in a manner that guarantees the works permanence, fitting into a defined category is of little importance - unless you wish to enter the work in a show or competition where such definitions are enforced.
Use lightfast artist quality pigments from reputable manufactures, choose a good quality acid free paper and be sure whatever you use on it is neutral pH. Following rules should be low on your list of priorities.
So gather up some pencils, paint and paper and what ever else you need to make some marks, then have some fun, run some risks and don't worry too much about what it is that constitutes a watercolor - if what you do falls outside the definition, be happy just to call it a painting or even a work of art!
Author: John Lovett