I am a painter’s painter. I don’t really care about watercolor. In fact, years ago I used to not like the medium.
When I did my painting apprenticeship in the early 90’s we painted in gouache and acrylics. Later, I would use gouache and egg tempera before trying to stay more transparent. More and more people who call themselves watercolor painters these days are actually using lots of white paint, mostly gouache, Chinese white or similar.
I find that comical because for me, it was the other way around but many of us seem to end up in the same place!
So the word should actually be watermedia painter, unless you’re painting in a transparent manner. If I see pencil lines, it’s transparent no matter how much white paint you’re using. That’s how I see it. Confusing? Yeah, I agree..
If you layer and layer your lighter values towards the lightest light (the white) with thick paint, well, that’s not watercolor. No matter what you call it. In traditional watercolor painting you work from light to dark. The idea being that the lightest light is the white of the paper.
If you’re from a foreign country, it might be lost in translation. Overall it’s not a deal breaker but worth a blogpost, I think. Especially in light of the fact that there are still a few watercolor societies left where they reject the use of white paint, even Chinese white, part of many watercolor sets you can buy. Do they have still have merit?
The thing is, their shows definitely have more true watercolors than most other shows, because aside from the fact that they don’t allow white paint, there’s also no collages and other works like that permitted.
To me painting is painting, the medium should be secondary. There is no ‘bad’ medium, just bad painters.
Should a watermedia painting be called ‘watercolor’? Some artists put ‘ watercolor and white’ as medium. I think that’s good. Another solution would be to call it ‘transparent watercolor’ if no white paint was used. But what if white paint was used and it’s still transparent? What is it?
You can see how there are no real firm borders. There’s no protected term ‘watercolor’, you could call an acrylic painting a watercolor if it was used with lots of water. It might be hard to spot if it’s not watercolor pigments!
I think overall, there shouldn’t be rules in art. There are already rules everywhere else in life. I think we can do without people with clipboards going around to determine what’s allowed and what isn’t. That’s just me..