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Getting Started with Watercolor & Gouache Paints

Lesson 2 of 13

Materials For Watercolor and Gouache Paintings

 

Getting Started with Watercolor & Gouache Paints

Lesson 2 of 13

Materials For Watercolor and Gouache Paintings

 

Lesson Info

Materials For Watercolor and Gouache Paintings

I'm gonna walk through all the materials here in a sort of consistent fashion. We'll start with color, which is basically the tubes and cakes of color. I'll then shift and talk about the brushes and then move to surfaces, the kinds of surfaces that you would work on. So we'll start with the color and one of the things I wanna mention is I won't talk too much about the fundamentals of color, but I will touch on them a little bit because I do have a class called color fundamentals and color expression, which I think goes really more down deep into how you use color in any medium. But when we talk about watercolor, there's sort of two ways that you can go. One of them is tube watercolor, which means it's more of a liquid and the other is cake watercolor and that would be these here. And this is a really tiny set. It's Koi I think is the brand. And it's super small because it's intended to be portable. And that's really why you would use tube watercolor versus cakes, is because the cakes y...

ou can carry them places and you just close this little setup. It's a little tiny box. This is a very small palette and you can go. So the palette of the cake watercolors are meant to be for planar painting or painting just anywhere. The bus station, at a cafe. You wouldn't be able to do that easily with tube watercolors because quite literally, I'll squeeze some color on the surface here. You can see that it, oop, there's a cap still on this one. This hasn't been used. You can see that there's a certain quantity of color. It's wet. So that wetness is caused by the gum arabic. And the gum arabic is the binder of the paint and that binder is what holds the color together. The color is just dry powder mixed with gum arabic and that's what makes the tube watercolor. So typically, I would tend to use the tube watercolor in studio and I might use the cakes when I'm traveling. I actually took this little kit to China and used a brush I'll talk to you about, which is basically a brush that holds the water in the brush itself and I painted this fish. I was testing this material to see how good the color was and actually I was really impressed with the cakes for this type of set. But what I wanna show you now is talk a little bit about the tube watercolor and the difference between professional grade and student grade. A lot of times people ask a question about well what's the difference? And basically the difference is that the student grade has more gum arabic in the pigment so it's a slightly lower quality than the professional grade, which has less gum arabic and sometimes has colors that are just not available in the student grade. I usually purchase a mixture of those and you can see that I have the Blick watercolors here and their Utrecht brand as well. And these colors are gorgeous. And they're actually priced really well for a substantial quantity of color in the tubes. But I liked working with these colors and what I have to say is in purchasing your set of watercolors, you can start with the student grade and then migrate for special colors that are only available in professional grade. Now you'll notice on these tubes they have numbers. This is a series three. Then you'll see something like, I think, yellow ochre is a series one. So the difference is that the series one color is easier to make, so it's cheaper. And this is a system used throughout the oil paints and watercolor and acrylic paints. They use this series system. If it's a series one, it's the least expensive, two a little more expensive, three more so and four is much more expensive. And it's only because it costs the manufacturer more to make that pigment. So when you're looking at the pricing structure you'll see the series two, three and four are more expensive than one and, of course, some of the most beautiful colors would be series three and four, so you have to reach into the pocketbook for that. But these are very reasonably priced pigments. So for the tube watercolor, what I wanna mention is that I'm trying to arrange these for you to see. They're organized by the primary colors, then the secondary colors and then the neutral colors and I'll just hold that for you. I have here four types of red, four types of yellow, four types of blue. Now your primaries are basically the colors that you can't divide them further or make them from any other colors. Yellow, red and blue your primaries. But there isn't just one yellow or one red or one blue. There's multiple versions of different types of blues and yellows and reds. And it's critical to have those in your palette. I'm more inclined to say don't worry about the secondaries, have several types of red. A cool red, a pink red, an orange red. Same thing with the yellows. A warm yellow, a cool yellow. And the same with the blue. That's the most important part of your palette. And then you can augment, you know, with an orange, which is a secondary color. A purple is also a secondary color. And your neutral colors, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, raw umber, burnt umber, Van Dyke brown. Those are the colors that are going to give you sort of your neutral versions of things as an alternative to black. In addition, I always like to have Chinese white, which is opaque. And this is a series one, so it's not too expensive. Naples yellow is also an opaque color, but it's warm instead of cool like white. Paynes gray and ivory black. Now just to make it easier because I feel as though when you're looking at these tubes, you're not getting the accurate information about what that color looks like. The way they make these labels are not what the colors look like. So how do you know what they look like? Well I've pre-squeezed some of the colors out here, but I also put together the primary, secondaries tertiaries which just means neutral colors and the opaque colors here and some other things that I wanna talk about in a minute. So for the reds, cadmium red is a really orangy kind of red. So is naphthol red. They're both leaning towards orange, they're warm. And they're really different than alizarin crimson and I always say this incorrectly, but quinacridone rose, which is really, really pink. So you can see even if you only have the cad red and the rose color or alizarin crimson, you've got a cool red and you've got a warm red. So having two very different reds will end up making really different kinds of purples and greens and oranges. Same thing with the yellow. Your lemon yellow is really cool and your cad yellow is really warm. So at least those two in your palette, really important. Then you have cobalt blue, phthalo blue, cerulean blue, and ultramarine. You don't necessarily have to have all four, but even just looking at this, you can see there's a wildly different color with ultramarine to phthalo blue. And those will create really different colors in your palette. So now people ask well why do you need secondary colors if you mix a red and a yellow you can make a green? The reason why is that when they make these pigments, they're making them very purely and they're very vibrant. It's really hard to make a green that's that vibrant from any yellow mixed with a blue. It just never looks quite that zowee. So I like to have additionally secondaries like phthalo yellow green and viridian, which is kind of a cool green. A warm green and a cool green. The same with the purple. Cobalt violet, which I think you mentioned yesterday, Kenny, like I love that color. I'll use that today. That is a very kind of pinkish purple, whereas the dioxazine purple is really sort of cool and dark. Now the cad orange, you could get away with one orange in your palette. These are really pretty similar. Now the tertiary colors, which tertiary just means that sort of on the color wheel, sort of the third color out, you can make tertiaries. Your browns and your grays with three primaries put together. So you can make your own tertiary colors, but when you buy them in the tube, again, they're much more vibrant. They're much more intense color. So I like to have these in my palette as well. Now the opaque colors I mentioned, naples yellow is really warm and it's densely opaque. When you use it really thickly, I added a lot more water to make it transparent here. Now that's obviously not white, it's blue. It's Chinese white mixed with phthalo blue and I did that so you could see it, because if I didn't, this is white paper, white paint, you won't be able to see a thing. So when you make it densely, it's thick, you can't really see the paper underneath. When I thin it out with water, it's more transparent. So you can make opaque colors like wash transparent, you just have to add a lot more water. So the other thing I did here, which I wanted you to see and I can even demonstrate here is that I created what's called layered color versus mixed color. And the difference is this. Let me grab a brush and I'll show you. The water's way over here. That's a lot of water. Okay, so what I'm gonna do is just take this color that I showed you before. This is burnt sienna. If I wanted to mix burnt sienna with let's say I'll mix it with this green and make a sort of neutral color. Mixing is just happening right on the palette. It's literally like you're stirring the pot. You're mixing the color together and then you're laying it down on the surface. Now when you mix a color, the two colors together become very homogeneous, so the pigment really looks consistent and even. If I layer these two colors, the color will be a little bit more intense. So if you look at these colors here, the layered and the mixed versions of the exact same color, this color and this color, the mixed color is a little more neutralized than the layered color. And what that means is if when I let that dry, fully dry, and you can use a blow dryer to dry or just wait, you then put a patch of color on top of it and what's happening is the two colors are sitting one on top of the other and that action of having one tone sit on top of another creates a vibrancy between the two colors and that creates just more energy with the color. It doesn't mean that mixed colors are bad. It just means you're gonna get a slightly different color if you mix let's say cobalt blue and your rose tone, you mix it, versus layering. Put the color down, let it dry, put the color on top like a sandwich. So it's just two different ways of creating your water color. And people often say that they neutralize their color a little bit too much. It might be because they're doing a lot of mixing and they're actually mixing it right on the surface of the paper. When you're water color is drying, it doesn't really want you to keep going back into it. And if it's almost dry and you try to, I'll demonstrate later, you try to touch it, it makes these weird textural marks and it tends to make what people refer to as mud. And nothing wrong with neutral colors, but you want to let the color really dry before you layer another color on top of it, otherwise it kind of mixes in a strange way. So this is basically a charting of the colors that I have here. These on the end are gouache. I'm gonna lay this down here. And I'm gonna show you an exercise that I really think is important and that is the exercise of making a color chart. And I recommend this for any medium because color charting, it's like a mathematical equation of what does this color plus this color make? And I have the names on the side and on the top and it's basically the same order of arrangement. Those are crimson, cadmium yellow, cobalt, cad red, lemon yellow, et cetera. Same up here. And then what happens when you intersect cobalt with lemon yellow? What's the green that you can make? It's gonna be really different than the green you make with cerulean blue and cadmium yellow. And you can see the difference. I mean, look at those two greens. They're really very different greens. The reason why this is important is they're two fold. As you're doing this and I always do this when I'm working with a new medium, I make a chart like this. The reason why it's important is that you're getting to know the color. If you've never worked with watercolor or you've never worked with any medium, by doing a color chart, you're able to become familiar with the color. The second thing is, you can keep this in your studio and tack it to the wall and we don't remember color. Our memories do not hold on to colors. So in order to reference and say what do those two colors make, I can just look at the chart and say, oh my rose color plus my cobalt blue, make a really yummy purple. Or my (mumbles) plus my rose make a really deep rich cool purple. And I can know that because I can literally see it. So I would suggest making a color chart and keeping it on hand and stick it on the wall. This was made by putting pieces of tape to keep a really clean sort of shape system. You don't have to do that. You could make things in a more loose fashion, but this was done with a lot of control. So color charts, really important, really recommend 'em.

Class Description

Are you interested in working with watercolor and/or gouache paints but not sure how to get started? In this course artist and illustrator, Mary Jane Begin will introduce you to the world of watercolor and gouache paints. This class is perfect for beginners looking to learn the basics of the medium in order to begin a painting practice. By the end of this course, you will be equipped with the know-how to pick up a brush and start experimenting with watercolors and gouache!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • All about the different types of watercolor and gouache paints available on the market and how they work
  • Which brushes and papers to use with those paints
  • How to begin making simple marks and shapes to familiarize yourself with the medium



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Reviews

shoney
 

I really enjoy Mary Jane Begin's style of teaching--I have a degree in Fine Art and have been painting for years, but think she does such a good job of building on the basics and encouraging play. Get your supplies ready ahead of time, if like me you want to play along. Thank you!

user-b0a82a
 

Fantastic class - so informative and inspiring. After watching the lessons, I picked up my watercolors and started playing around with some of the covered techniques. Highly recommended!

a Creativelive Student
 

The watercolor class was fantastic! MJ is a great instructor!