Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Watercolour to Acrylic: a seamless change
I find myself evolving a working method which moves between traditional gum Arabic based watercolour and fluid acrylic. Why? – well I like the loose way in which watercolour can be used to begin a painting with colours floated on to wet paper and pushed around or sponged out. Then I like the strong vibrant colours and opacity that are some of the characteristics of acrylic.

It is possible to build up strong vibrant colours in watercolour by repeated application of lots of pure washes but it is a time consuming and hazardous process – the underlayers can all too easily be disturbed. Then there is the attraction of playing off transparency against opacity in different parts of the painting – or floating transparent washes over opaque passages – a method similar to the glazing method frequently used by oil painters.

There remains the question of how to describe the results of this way of working in exhibition catalogues. Mixed media is a description most often used where pastel or chalk is combined with watercolour or gouache so doesn’t appeal. Watercolour/Acrylic is clumsy and neither one thing or the other. So the simple description ‘Water Media’ is the one I think I will use for exhibition catalogue entries - with an explanatory note added to the label on the back.

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