5 Of The Most Popular Watercolor Mediums That Artists Use

Michael Daly
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Ox Gall Watercolor Medium

This medium thickens and sometimes yellows the watercolor paint. It helps paint stick to the paper. Use less medium if you want a thinner paint or more if you want a thick paint. This medium also helps counteract buckling of the paper making the paint go on evenly.

The main reason watercolorists prefer ox gall over other mediums is that it enhances the luminosity and transparency of the paints.

Even though you can get it from the butcher as bovine gall bladder bile, Gamsol is the most popular substitute. It is made from fish oil and its consistency is similar to ox gall.

Granulation Medium

Granulation medium is an optional additive to watercolor paint. It helps give medium consistency and thickness and increase plasticity.

It is not absolutely necessary to add granulation medium to watercolor paint however, so if you cannot get it, you do not have to worry. Just add a small amount of thicker and some water to each of your paint colors.

Granulation medium is also a great addition to tinted medium, especially to increase plasticity.

I personally like to add this medium to my heavily tinted areas. Since I prefer heavy body paints, I usually add granulation medium to all my painting and when I need to achieve a little more paint for different shades of color.

Despite the name, this medium will not make your paintings granular. Rather, they will become a little cloudy. Be careful not to add too much, or your watercolors will have a texture that will leave behind visible brushstrokes.

Gum arabic is a natural binder. You can use it to dilute watercolors, acrylics, gouache, and oil paint. You can use it to create washes or paint with it straight out of the bottle. No matter what technique you use, gum arabic will create a luminous effect when applied to watercolors.

The binder has a medium viscosity, so it doesn’t alter the transparency of the paint. It’s thus a good choice if you want to paint a flat area or create a solid base of color. If you want to create a thicker wash, you can add more gum arabic to your paint.

Gum arabic will also make your painting layers thicker. For this reason, you might want to use it with other mediums. It works well with gouache and casein as mediums. Gum arabic will make the paint go further and blend well with these media.

Another good thing about gum arabic is that it dissolves easily. You can apply it with a brush or you can create an even wash with a soft-haired paint brush. You just sprinkle the binder on top of a layer of watercolor paint and then sprinkle a little more on top. You can repeat this process until you get the range of color you need.

Masking Medium Is Perfect For Achieving Contrast

Watercolor masks can be super useful in achieving the effect that you want in your artwork.

Masking medium is transparent that is why it is ideal for watercolorists who want to achieve light contrasts. Clear physical inks such as Scribe work best with this medium.

This is also ideal if you want to properly mix your colors. Because clear masking medium has the same consistency as water, it can balance out the color combination. It will also not obstruct the flow of your watercolor paint.

Masking medium is awesome. It is a universal medium that can be used in various mediums such as watercolor, acrylic, ink and oil.

Large collection bottles of masking medium can be pricey but they are worth their price.

Watercolor Medium (Yes That’s Really The Name)

The watercolor medium (yes, that’s the actual name) is a diluting agent that is used to reduce the thickness of watercolor paints. It also further modifies the paint’s texture allowing controlling the application.

Many watercolorists get themselves a paint set with the medium already diluted, avoiding the additional step. This makes sense considering watercolor mediums are really cheap.

But if you prefer to create your paint set from scratch, go ahead and use this medium as an alternative to white spirit or turpentine. It can also be used to lighten a paint’s tint and modify its transparency.

But if you find yourself using a lot of watercolors, it might be wise to invest in something more suitable for this purpose. It’s pretty hard to get a good paint layer with the diluted medium. For me, it cost me my soaked paper layer more times than I’ll admit.

Watercolor paints have several binders, which is basically the liquid that is typically combined with pigment to absorb into a support such as paper or canvas. These binders can either be a gum, a resin or a solid polymer.

Gum based mediums are typically translucent, they comprise of vegetable gums such as gum arabic or gum tragacanth. Gum based mediums are also known as “cold mediums” because they do not dry immediately after you brush them onto your painting support. This allows you time to control the paint’s flow. The downside of gum based mediums is that they tend to yellow over time. Hence, gum based mediums are best for beginners. Artists that are interested in creating large areas of colorless or translucent areas are often encouraged to use gum based mediums.

Resin based mediums are also known as “hot mediums” because they dry immediately after you brush them onto your painting support. This makes them perfect for artists interested in creating detailed and fine-toothed works of art. They also have a greater maximum tolerance with regard to the thickness of paint. Resin based mediums are available in several varieties, the most common being damar, copal and amber.

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Stores are filled with paint and mediums that artists use to create inspirational works of art. But not all of these items are necessary for your art supplies. What should you look for and what can you skip?

The key to getting started is to buy quality art supplies that are easy to use. Some of the more advanced products, such as gum arabic, can be very difficult for beginners to use. However, there are many solid mediums and accessories that are not only easy to use, but will also enhance your creativity without costing a fortune.

Many artists skip buying artist’s watercolor paper because it can be a bit expensive and overkill for a beginner. However, canvas paper is a cheaper alternative to quality watercolor paper that most artists use. Plus, getting a large sheet of canvas paper can give you a lot of versatility when it comes to practicing your skills and experimenting with different watercolor techniques.

Watercolor paints are another favorite that artists tend to stock up on. However, with so many types to choose from, you may be more confused than you were before. Your best bet is to purchase a quality watercolor set that comes with basic colors. It’s also important to practice with pigments before you start working with colors that come in tubes.