A Guide to Watercolour Mediums

A Guide to Watercolour Mediums

Watercolour mediums are an excellent way to add texture, depth, and interest to your artwork. They are liquids or gels that are added to watercolour paint or paper to create different effects. In this post, we’ll discuss the most commonly used mediums and how they can enhance your artwork.

Gum Arabic - £6.48

Gum Arabic is a natural substance that has been used in the art world for centuries. It is a versatile material that can be added to paint to enhance its properties in several ways.

One of the benefits of using Gum Arabic is that it acts as an extender, and increases the viscosity of the paint, making it behave more like a glaze. This effect allows the paint mix to sit on the surface of the paper instead of soaking in, resulting in a longer drying time. This property is particularly useful when creating washes and gradient effects, such as in skylines or landscapes, as it allows for more manipulation and blending of the paint, resulting in a smoother finish.

Gum Arabic also increases the transparency and vibrancy of the paint. While these seem to be conflicting effects, they are actually different.

Increasing transparency in paint means reducing the opacity or density of the paint allowing more light to pass through it. This quality allows the paint to be layered and used effectively as a glaze.
Increasing the vibrancy or saturation in paint refers to the degree to which colours are intense, vivid, and bold. This means that even though the paint is more transparent, the colours will remain vibrant.
Furthermore, Gum Arabic's natural gloss and sheen can also contribute to the colour and luminosity of the paint. When the paint dries, the Gum Arabic dries to a smooth and glossy finish, which reflects light and enhances the colours’ radiance.

It is essential to use Gum Arabic in the correct proportions, as using too much can cause the paint to crack when it dries. Many bottles of Gum Arabic will indicate the recommended proportions on the back of the bottle to ensure successful results.


Ox Gall - £4.99

Ox gall is a natural 

wetting agent derived from the gallbladders of cattle, used to improve the flow and consistency of watercolour paint. It is used to enable easier spreading and better adherence of the paint to the paper, preventing paint from puddling. This results in a smoother and more even application, and more vibrant, intense colours. It should be diluted according to instructions and used moderately to avoid over-thinning the paint and loss of control.


Texture Medium - £4.99

Texture medium can be used to add texture to your watercolour paintings. It is often made from a mix of different materials, including sand or crushed glass. Texture medium can be applied directly to the paper or added to the paint itself. When added to the paint, the particles in the medium create interesting effects and add texture to the painting. Texture medium can be particularly effective when used for creating textured backgrounds or for adding texture to specific areas of the painting.


Masking Fluid - £7.55

Masking fluid is a liquid latex that is used to protect specific areas of the paper from watercolour paint. It can be painted over the desired areas using a brush or pen and then removed with a putty rubber once the painting is dry. Masking fluid comes in a range of colours, including white, blue, and yellow, making it easier to see where it has been applied. This medium is especially useful for preserving areas of the painting that need to remain white or unpainted.


Granulation Medium - £6.48

Granulation mediums can be used to create interesting and granular textures in your watercolour paintings. It is typically made from a mix of Gum Arabic and small particles of material, such as pumice or sand. When mixed with watercolour paint, the granulation medium separates the pigment particles, creating a granular effect on the paper. This can be particularly effective when used for creating skies, landscapes, or water.


Lifting and Preparation Medium - £4.99

Lifting and preparation medium is a liquid that is used to prepare the surface of the paper before watercolour paint is applied. It can help to prevent the paint from sinking too deeply into the paper fibers, making it easier to lift off the paint and correct mistakes.

To use a lifting and preparation medium, you simply apply it to the paper surface and allow it to dry completely before painting. Once the surface is dry, you can apply your watercolour paint as usual. After the paint has dried, you can then use a damp rag or paintbrush to gently lift and dissolve the paint, creating a faded effect. This can be useful for creating soft transitions between colours, correcting mistakes, or adding highlights to a painting.

It's important to note that lifting and preparation mediums should be used with caution, as using too much of it can cause the paint to resist absorption into the paper surface, leading to patchiness or streaks. It is best to experiment with the medium on a scrap piece of paper first to get a feel for how it works with your particular paints and paper.


Blending Medium - £6.48

Blending medium is a medium that is used to slow down the drying process of watercolour paint, allowing you to blend your colours for longer. It is typically made from a mix of glycerin and water and can be added directly to the paint or applied to the paper before painting. Blending medium makes it easier to create smooth transitions between colours and to blend different shades together, creating a more cohesive painting.


Overall, using different mediums in your watercolour paintings can add depth, texture, and interest to your artwork. Each medium produces a unique effect and can be used in a variety of ways to enhance your painting. By understanding the properties of each medium, you can experiment with different techniques and take your painting to the next level.

24th February 2023

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