Art Materials - Watercolor Mediums

Watercolor Academy

Art Materials - Watercolor Mediums

Article by Vladimir London, Watercolor Academy tutor

Various watercolor mediums can be used for mixing paints to alter their characteristics or to protect or prime paper

Unlike in oil painting, using additional mediums in watercolor is optional because the gum arabic binder that is already present in pan or tube paints is sufficient for painting.

Nevertheless, I will list some watercolor mediums that are available from Winsor & Newton and other manufacturers for educational purposes.

First, let's examine mediums that are mixed with paints.

Gum Arabic

Gum arabic can be added to paints in small quantities to intensify colors. It prolongs drying time and improves covering properties. However, adding too much gum arabic may result in a shiny surface and the paint layer cracking.

Art Materials - Watercolor Mediums - Article by Vladimir London, Watercolor Academy tutor

Gum arabic is available as a ready-to-use liquid. Some art suppliers also sell it as dry crystals, which can be dissolved in distilled water and filtered for impurities through a paper towel or blotting paper.

Watercolor Medium

Similar to gum arabic, watercolor medium enhances colors, making them more luminous, and can also add a glossy shine to an artwork. It is more water resistant and therefore harder to wash out. It should be used with care as it might affect paints that react to acid, ultramarine for example.

Blending Medium

A blending medium takes its name from its property of prolonging drying and giving more time for blending.

Ox Gall

Art Materials - Watercolor Mediums - Article by Vladimir London, Watercolor Academy tutor

Ox gal improves paint flow by breaking water surface tension. It can be used for better mixing and spread of paints on paper.

Granulation Medium

Heavy pigment paints tend to granulate in washes. To intensify this natural effect, a granulation medium can be used. You will find out more about granulation and how to use it in the "Watercolor Painting Techniques" video lessons where I describe the "granulated wash" method.

Texture Medium

The texture medium contains small particles that add texture to colors.

Iridescent Medium

An iridescent medium contains glitter particles that give a pearlescent effect to paints. In my opinion, it is more suited for arts-and-crafts projects than for professional watercolor painting.

Now, let's look at some mediums that are applied to the paper.

Masking Medium

Art Materials - Watercolor Mediums - Article by Vladimir London, Watercolor Academy tutor

Masking fluid does exactly what it says on the label: protects the paper from water and paint. This rubbery liquid comes in transparent or colored forms and can be applied with a brush or stick. It is a temporary masking solution because the protecting film can be easily removed as long as it has not been left on the paper for too long.

Permanent Masking Medium

A permanent masking medium does the same job as masking fluid. However, as its name suggests, it cannot be removed from the paper.

In the "Protecting White" article, I will describe in detail the pros and cons of masking. You may refer to that article before making a decision whether you need any masking mediums.

Lifting Preparation

The lifting preparation medium primes the paper so it is easier to lift or wash out dry paint with a wet brush or sponge. Application of this medium makes correcting mistakes easier.

Prepared Size

Cold pressed (or 'not') papers tend to absorb paint more than hot pressed. To reduce absorption, prepared size can be applied. It also improves paint lifting and washing out.

Once again, I want to state that all the watercolor mediums described above are totally optional and would suggest to work on your art skills rather than look for a "magic" ingredient that will make a perfect watercolor artwork.

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