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In the art world, there are plenty of different types of paints and each has its pros and cons. Watercolours, which are also known as aquarelle, are made of pigments in a solution of water. When it comes to painting with watercolour, most artists paint directly onto the paper.
Watercolour painting is probably one of the oldest types of painting and there are examples of watercolours being used as far back as the Egyptian times for manuscript illustration.
Even though watercolours have been used for ages, watercolour paintings became popular in the UK in the 18th century and were used for more practical functions like maps and illustrating the finds of geological and archaeological expeditions. A century later, watercolours started becoming popular in the United States, too.
If you're interested in art or painting with watercolour, here's why studying watercolour painting is important, the challenges you might face, how its taught in schools, and how you can find private watercolour classes in the UK.
Watercolour paints are very interesting to work with due to the water-based solution that the pigment is suspended in. This means that the pigment isn't directly applied to the support that you would with a pen or pencil on paper. Similarly, the order in which you apply the colours is hugely important and not necessarily obvious.
Due to the difficulties encountered when using watercolours (which we'll get to in a bit), you must study how watercolours work, gain an appreciation of the artists who managed to master it, and learn how to get them to work for you.
Once you know how to paint using a certain medium, you'll begin to appreciate what the masters were capable of. When looking at each painting in an art gallery, you'll understand how the artist managed to create such wonderful work and which parts would have been particularly difficult.
Painting with watercolours is much harder than it looks. While watercolour paints have the potential to create wonderful pieces, you need to be very careful about how you use them. You need to be patient and measured when painting with watercolours.
When painting with watercolours, it's very difficult to lighten colours so you need to start with light tones and move onto darker tones. If you overdo it and apply too much dark pigment, you'll see your new painting ruined very quickly.
You need to be very careful about how much water you use. If you use too much water, your colours will be too light. Similarly, if the paper is wet or damp, you'll end up with a rough area of your painting that the experts refer to as "mud".
Put simply, you need to carefully think about the steps you're going to take when painting with watercolours and plan out the order of the colours and areas you're going to paint before making any marks on the paper.
Art as a subject that's studied through primary school and secondary school and by the time they reach GCSE, most students will have attended thousands of drawing and art classes. That said, in primary school, students tend to use poster paints or gouache more than they use watercolours because they're often cheaper and easier to use.
If a student opts to take art at GCSE, they'll study various techniques including watercolour painting. In addition to painting, they'll also learn about drawing, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and printing. It also looks at the fundamental elements of art like line, colour, tone, shape, and form as well as the principles of design.
We'll get to the intricacies of watercolour paints shortly but every painting takes planning and students will learn about the creative process that artists undergo. This process includes finding inspiration, responding to stimuli, analytical drawing, developing ideas, creating a design brief, experimenting with materials and techniques, recording and observing, annotating work, and analysing and evaluating your work.
An Art GCSE course is quite broad so students won't necessarily spend a lot of time with watercolours unless they express an interest in using them. Later on in their education, aspiring artists can start specialising and by the time they get onto an A Level or university course, they'll be given more freedom to choose
If you want to get the most out of watercolours, you need to learn more about how they work and how to use them effectively. While a good book can explain some of the concepts and techniques, students will benefit from a tutor teaching them how it all works.
Similarly, their classes can adapt to you, how you like to learn, and what you'd like to learn. While you mightn't get these opportunities in school where the lessons follow the curriculum, private tutorials are planned with you in mind.
The tutorials don't have to focus on only teaching you how to use watercolour paints and you could always learn more about artists, art history, drawing, and painting with other types of paint, for example.
When it comes to finding a qualified and experienced watercolour or painting tutor, it's never been easier. On Superprof, you just need to search for them and you'll be able to look through their profiles, see how much they charge, and, most importantly, see if they offer the first lesson for free.
With many tutors offering the first hour of tutoring for free, you can try several different watercolour painting classes before you decide upon the right one for you. Make sure you ask them about how they like to teach and any other art techniques they could teach you.
If you live rurally or are struggling to find tutors who work near you, you can always find online tutors who'll teach you how to paint via webcam. All you need is a stable internet connection and a webcam.
Whether you opt for face to face watercolour classes or online classes, you'll soon be creating some beautiful paintings with them!
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