Artwork: White Nights Watercolours and Holbein White Gouache on a Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcard. Reference photo courtesy of swampcat1943 on Pixabay.
When I first started using watercolor what attracted me was the glow that you could get with it. I knew the tricks of contrast and value that could help me get it but for a long time, I thought that transparency was necessary as well.
Transparency is discussed often in relation to watercolor. In fact, some people will only use transparent colors and to hear some of them talk, it’s THE most important thing about watercolor.
I kind of bought into that, but when I tried to follow along with it, I was usually unhappy with my paintings.
That made me sad and disgusted with my work – I must be doing something wrong. Eventually, I realized that while I do want transparent color sometimes, my particular style doesn’t lend itself to using it, and I went my merry way with other methods.
Just recently, as I started using gouache, and deliberately choosing opaque watercolor pigments, it dawned on me that what I really wanted with was that beautiful glow you see when the light is bright and the shadows deep, but black, and dark pigments aren’t part of it.
Oh yes. You can paint this beautifully with transparent colors. But you can get it with opaque colors too.
I’m so much happier now that I’ve fully realized that obvious fact.
Hahnemühle Cold Press Watercolor Postcards (review)