Water-based pigments can be difficult to master, but they provide a solid
foundation in technique that translates easily into other media. You cannot
hide your mistakes in water media. For this reason, beginning painters
should start with watercolor and progress through the other water media of
gouache, casein, and eventually acrylics. For extended study in watercolor,
review the works of Emil Nolde and Charles Demuth.
Water-based pigments or water media are pigments combined with a binder
and diluted with water. You should use distilled water to dilute water-based
pigments before application. Tap or impure water effects the clarity and
permanence of water-based pigments.
Watercolors are pigments combined with gum arabic and diluted with water
before application. Watercolors are available as powder, pan cakes, and
tubes. Watercolors in powder or pancake form may require additional
preparation before use such as grinding and mixing with a binder.
Watercolor in a tube is ready to use. Tube color and some pan cakes are
mixed with glycerin to retain moistness. Watercolors are water soluble when
wet and dry.
Watercolor pigments are classified by degrees of permanence based on
research. Select a degree of permanence to suit your needs.
Permanence is designated according to this table:
A permanent, artist-grade quality paint.
A somewhat permanent, student-grade pigment.
A moderately permanent, cheaper, lower quality
paint good for preliminary studies.
No significant degree of permanence, intended
primarily for general public or classroom use.
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