Watercolor Glossary

Here’s a comprehensive glossary of terms related to watercolor painting:

Watercolor: A type of painting technique that uses pigments suspended in a water-based solution.

Pigment: Colored substance used to create paint.

Binder: The substance that holds the pigment together in paint.

Paper: The surface on which watercolor paintings are typically created.

Wash: A broad application of diluted paint over a large area.

Glaze: A thin, transparent layer of paint applied over dried paint to create depth and richness.

Wet-on-wet: A technique where wet paint is applied onto a wet surface, allowing colors to blend and flow.

Wet-on-dry: A technique where wet paint is applied onto a dry surface, creating sharp edges and distinct shapes.

Dry brush: A technique where a relatively dry brush is used to create textured strokes or details.

Lifting: The process of removing wet or dry paint from the paper surface using a damp brush, cloth, or sponge.

Masking fluid: A liquid or tape used to protect specific areas of the paper from paint, creating white or reserved areas.

Staining pigments: Pigments that have a strong affinity for paper and are difficult to lift or remove once dried.

Transparent pigments: Pigments that allow light to pass through, creating luminous and vibrant colors.

Opaque pigments: Pigments that block light from passing through, resulting in more solid and dense colors.

Graded wash: A wash that transitions from light to dark or dark to light gradually, creating a smooth gradient.

Flat wash: A wash that covers a specific area with an even and consistent color, without visible brushstrokes.

Dry on wet: A technique where dry paint is applied onto a wet surface, creating texture and granulation.

Granulation: The effect where pigment particles settle into the crevices of the paper, creating a textured appearance.

Luminosity: The quality of brightness, lightness, and transparency in watercolor paintings.

Underpainting: An initial layer of paint used to establish values, tones, and overall composition.

Blotting: The act of removing excess water or paint from the paper surface using a paper towel or sponge.

Palette: The surface where watercolor paints are mixed and stored during the painting process.

Stencil: A pre-cut or hand-made template used to create specific shapes or patterns in a painting.

Sgraffito: A technique where layers of paint are scratched or scraped off to reveal the layers beneath.

Dry wash: A technique where dry pigment is applied to dry paper, creating a concentrated and intense color.

Wet wash: A technique where wet paint is applied to wet paper, creating soft and blended effects.

Brush control: The ability to manipulate the brush to achieve desired strokes and effects.

Hard edge: A sharp and distinct boundary between two areas of color.

Soft edge: A gradual and blended transition between two areas of color.

Sable brush: A brush made from the hair of the sable, known for its water-holding capacity and fine point.

Synthetic brush: A brush made from synthetic fibers that mimic the properties of natural hair brushes.

Round brush: A brush with a round, pointed tip, used for detail work, washes, and creating fine lines.

Flat brush: A brush with a flat, squared-off tip, used for broad strokes, washes, and filling large areas.

Mop brush: A brush with a large, round, and soft head, used for creating soft edges and blending.

Fan brush: A brush with fan shaped bristles suited for foliage and trees.

Rigger brush: A brush with long, thin bristles, used for creating fine lines and delicate details.

Hake brush: A wide, flat brush made of soft hair or bristles, used for applying washes and broad strokes.

Masking tape: A tape used to mask off areas of the paper, creating clean edges and preventing paint from reaching certain areas.

Color wheel: A circular chart that shows the relationship between colors, including primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.

Primary colors: The fundamental colors that cannot be created by mixing other colors. In watercolor, they are typically red, blue, and yellow.

Secondary colors: Colors created by mixing two primary colors together. In watercolor, they are orange, green, and violet.

Tertiary colors: Colors created by mixing a primary color with a neighboring secondary color on the color wheel.

Complementary colors: Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel and create contrast when used together.

Hue: The specific name of a color, such as “red,” “blue,” or “yellow.”

Value: The lightness or darkness of a color. Watercolor artists often create value scales to understand and control the range of tones in their paintings.

Saturation: The intensity or purity of a color. Highly saturated colors are vibrant and vivid, while desaturated colors appear more muted or grayed.

Tint: A color mixed with white, resulting in a lighter value and increased opacity.

Shade: A color mixed with black, resulting in a darker value.

Transparent wash: A wash where the paper shows through the paint, creating a transparent or translucent effect.

Opaque wash: A wash where the paint completely covers the paper, resulting in a solid and non-transparent color.

Dry time: The time it takes for watercolor paint to dry on the paper. It can vary depending on factors such as pigment, paper quality, humidity, and thickness of the paint layer.

Lifting technique: Various methods used to lift or remove paint from the paper, such as blotting, scrubbing, or using an eraser.

Masking fluid pen: A tool that dispenses masking fluid in a controlled manner, allowing artists to create detailed and precise masked areas.

Scumbling: A technique where dry or semi-dry paint is applied with a light touch over an existing layer, creating a broken or textured effect.

Transparent medium: A substance added to watercolor paint to increase transparency, extend drying time, or improve flow.

Stippling: A technique where small dots or marks are made with a brush or other tools to create texture or shading.

Negative painting: A technique where shapes or forms are created by painting around them, using the surrounding space as a negative space.

Impasto: A technique where paint is applied thickly and heavily, creating texture and three-dimensional effects on the paper.

Remember, this glossary is extensive, and there may be additional terms specific to certain watercolor techniques or styles.