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Watercolour Painting

13,600 artworks, 1,807 artists
Watercolour painting (fr. aquarelle — watery; it. acquarello; lat. aqua — water) is a fine art technique in which an artist creates an image using watercolour paints and the base texture. The technique combines the elements of painting and graphics, it is a transitional stage, so it allows to use gouache, white pigment, pastels, sanguine. The watercolour paintings have two features: the palette contains no white, as the base plays this function, and a brush stroke is transparent and flat. The watercolour images feature tenderness, airiness, a thin shades palette. Cotton or cellulose paper and cardboard have long been the basis for the image. Watercolour paint includes the finest pigment, gum arabic or vegetable glue as a binder, and water. Exposure to light causes irreparable damage to artworks, as light affects the tints and makes the work dim.

The technique of depicting objects in watercolour appeared in antiquity, in ancient Egypt and China, and it became widespread in the 18th century Europe. Renaissance artists used water-based paints to decorate church books, sketches for murals and large-format canvases. The 19th century artists painted landscape sketches, plants and animals, architectural objects and topographic drawings in watercolour. The 20th century became the golden age of watercolour painting: the English and American landscape schools of the late 19th century made the technology a strong independent visual art trend.

Watercolour artists master an abundance of techniques. Glaze or multi-layer watercolour painting consists of layers of translucent shades on top of an existing picture. Alla prima technique implies execution of the image in one session, though it allows accents on details. Salt watercolour corrodes paint and creates a specific texture of the image. Mixed or original technique of watercolour painting includes water splashes, paraffin and improvised paint additives. The media give the impression of volume and texture on a flat surface of the base. The masterpieces of watercolour painting do not possess firmness and longevity, but they surprise with the subtlety and grace of the image, giving the viewer the magic of the short-lived and airy art.

Famous watercolour paintings:
Shields, on the River Tyne” 1823, “View Of Lake Lucerne From Brunnen” 1841 by Joseph William Turner; “Boy in a Boatyard” 1873, “Daughters of the Sea” 1883 by Winslow Homer; “Lappings of the Waves” 1887, “Hamburg Harbour” 1891 by Anders Zorn; “Portrait of Eva Freund” 1910, “Sunflower” 1917 by Egon Schiele.

Famous artists:
John Singer Sargent, John Ruskin, Anders Zorn, Joseph William Turner, William Blake, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele, Thomas Eakins, Pyotr Sokolov.