Art Principles and History

Art Fundamentals

What is watercolor?

While oil paints are made by mixing pigment with oil, watercolors are made by mixing pigment with water, usually for use on paper. Watercolors are applied in washes, which create a light, transparent area of color. Before the nineteenth century, water-color was mostly used for quick sketches and was not considered to be as refined as other types of painting. However, perceptions of watercolor changed after John Ruskin, a famous nineteenth-century art critic, promoted it and the artist J.M.W. Turner (who also painted in oil) used watercolor for his dramatic and monumental paintings. Watercolor is still a popular medium used by artists around the world.


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