"Art is an experience, not an object." Robert Motherwell

Painting Technique Questions

Q. How do I learn how much paint and how much water to use for my watercolor paints?
A. Practice! If I had a formula for this I'd be a millionaire. Here are some guidelines, though, to handling your watercolor paint:

  • Always wet your brush before putting it into the paint.
  • Once you have loaded the brush with paint, go directly to your palette and work the brush so the paint will be evenly distributed throughout the brush. It's risky to go straight to the paper even if you don't need to mix a color--a chunk of paint on the brush may not be workable on the paper.
  • When you have the paint worked in and like the color, test it on a scrap of the same kind of paper you're painting on.
  • Remember that watercolor dries lighter, so "if it looks right when it's wet, it's wrong."!
Browse the watercolor faq for more on this question.

A. Why are watercolors more difficult than oils to work with?
A. They aren't--they're just different. Some believe oil paints are easier because you can cover up your mistakes, but it's just as easy to make mud in oil as it is in watercolor. I believe that our choice of medium is dictated by our personalities. Most watercolor painters are addicted to the spontaneity and splash of moving paint; oil and acrylic painters prefer a more moderate pace and enjoy controlling the paint on the canvas. Watercolors dry lighter than they look when wet, but oils and acrylics dry darker, so they're even on that score.

Q. Do acrylic paintings need to be varnished?
A. Yes, they should be varnished, not just coated with medium, unless they are to be framed under glass. Acrylics tend to gather dust, which becomes embedded in the paint film and can't be washed out. For more information on methods and materials go to the Golden Paints web site.

Q. Do the new water-mixable oil paints work the same way as traditional paints?
A. Most oil painters have a preference of one over the other, but for different reasons. The advantage of the water-mixable feature is that clean-up can be achieved without toxic solvents. One of the best features is that brushes can be rinsed easily while painting. Painters notice the new oil paints don't have quite the buttery feel of traditional oils, but otherwise seem about the same in drying time once the water has evaporated from the paint film. As for using mediums with the new oils, there are special mediums made for them that don't interfere with the water-mixable property.

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