watercolor or watercolour - Any paint that uses water as a solvent. Paintings done with this medium are known as watercolors. What carries the pigment in watercolor (called its medium, vehicle, or base) is gum arabic. An exception to this rule is water miscible oil paints, which employ water as their solvent, but are actually oil paints.
When made opaque with white, watercolor is generally called gouache or bodycolor. Tempera is another exception.
Colors are usually applied and spread with brushes, but other tools can also used. The most common techniques for applying watercolor are called wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet, along with the dry brush techniques dry-on-dry and dry-on-wet. Colors can be removed while still wet, to various degrees by blotting.
Most watercolor painting is done on paper, but other absorbent grounds can also be employed. The papers most favored by those who paint with watercolor is white, very thick, with high rag content, and has some tooth.
"Watercolor" is the American spelling. "Watercolour" is the British spelling.
Examples of works in watercolor:
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471-1528), A Young Hare, 1502, watercolor and gouache on paper, 25 x 23 cm, Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna. Albrecht Dürer is considered one of the pioneers in the use of watercolors. See Northern Renaissance.
Albrecht Dürer, The Large Piece of Turf, 1503, watercolor and gouache on yellowed paper, 41 x 32 cm, Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna.
Indian, Mughal dynasty, A Ruler on Horseback Leading an Army across a Battlefield, from the Tarikh-i Alfi, c. 1592-94, opaque watercolor on paper, heightened with gold; Persian text in nastaliq script, Worcester Art Museum, MA.
Sally Miller (American, Litchfield, CN), Mourning picture, c. 1811, silk painted with watercolors and ink, 28 x 32 3/8 inches (71.12 x 82.23 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775-1851), Conway Castle, North Wales, 1798, watercolor and gum arabic with graphite underdrawing, 21 1/8 inches x 30 1/8 inches (53.6 x 76.7 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. See Romanticism.
Joseph Mallord William Turner, The Lake of Zug, 1843, watercolor with gouache and colored chalks, over traces of graphite; extensive scraping with penknife, 11 3/4 x 18 3/8 inches (29.8 x 46.6 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
James Duffield Harding (English, 1797 or 98 - 1863), Twickenham, 1839, drawing and monochromatic watercolor on paper, 27.0 x 38.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London.
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798-1863), Saada, the Wife of Abraham Benchimol, and Préciada, One of Their Daughters, 1832, watercolor over graphite, 8 3/4 x 6 3/8 inches (22.2 x 16.2 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Romanticism.
Ferdinand-Victor-Eugène Delacroix, Strolling Players, 1833, watercolor, 9 3/4 x 7 1/4 inches (24.8 x 18.4 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Richard Parkes Bonington (French, born England, 1802-1828), Verona, Piazza dell'Erbe, c. 1826-7, watercolor and pencil on paper, 20.6 x 26.5 cm, Tate Gallery, London.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828-1882), Lady Lilith, 1867, watercolor, bodycolor and gum, 20 3/16 x 17 5/16 inches, Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910), Boys and Kitten, 1873, watercolor and gouache over graphite on cream wove paper, Worcester Art Museum, MA. Among his first efforts with watercolor, this picture was painted while Homer was vacationing in Gloucester, Massachusetts. His use of watercolor was so innovative and expressive that he greatly contributed to its becoming accepted as a fine arts medium. See realism.
Winslow Homer, Ship's Boat, 1883, watercolor, New Britain Museum of Art, CT.
Winslow Homer, After from the Hunt, 1892, watercolor, 16 x 21 inches (40.6 x 53.3 cm), Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Anton Mauve (Dutch, 1838-1888), Entering the Fold, c. 1885-8, drawing and watercolor on paper, 505 x 60.3 cm, Tate Gallery, London. Anton Mauve was an early influence on Vincent van Gogh. This prolific and popular Dutch realist painter's wife was van Gogh's cousin. Mauve and van Gogh worked together for a short time. See pastoral.
Paul Cézanne (French, 1839-1906), Foliage, 1895-1900, watercolor and pencil on paper, 17 5/8 x 22 3/8 inches (44.8 x 56.8 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See Post-Impressionism.
Paul Cézanne, Still Life, about 1900, watercolor and graphite, 18 15/16 x 24 7/8 inches (48 x 63.1 cm), J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu, CA. See still life.
Paul Cézanne, Mont Sainte-Victoire Seen from Les Lauves, 1901-1906, pencil and watercolor, 18 7/8 x 12 1/4 inches (48 x 31 cm), private collection.
Paul Cézanne, Le Mont Sainte-Victoire, 1902-1906, pencil and watercolor on white paper, 16 3/4 X 21 3/8 inches (42.5 x 54.3 cm), Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Henri-Edmond Cross (French, 1856-1910), Landscape with Stars, watercolor over pencil on paper, 9 5/8 x 12 5/8 inches (20.5 x 32.5 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Neo-Impressionism and nocturne.
John Singer Sargent (American, born in Italy, 1856-1925), Venetian Fishing Boats, c. 1904, pencil and watercolor on paper, 48.9 x 34.9 cm, Tate Gallery, London.
John Singer Sargent, Muddy Alligators, 1917, watercolor over graphite on off-white wove paper, Worcester Art Museum, MA.
Childe Hassam (American, 1859-1935). See American Impressionism and Ten American Painters.
Maurice Brazil Prendergast (American, born Newfoundland, 1859-1924), Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook: The Huntington Avenue Streetcar, 1895-1897, watercolor over pencil, 14 1/8 x 11 1/8 inches (35.8 x 28.4 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See The Eight.
Maurice Brazil Prendergast, Low Tide, Beachmont, c. 1902-4, watercolor over graphite and coal on off-white wove paper, Worcester Art Museum, MA.
Wasily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866-1944), Watercolor (Number 13), 1913, watercolor on paper, 12 5/8 x 16 1/8 inches (32.1 x 41 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Emil Nolde (German, 1867-1956), Papuan Head, 1914, watercolor on paper, 19 7/8 x 14 3/4 inches (50.4 x 37.5 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY.
John Marin (American, 1870-1953), Brooklyn Bridge, c. 1912, watercolor and charcoal on paper, 18 5/8 x 15 5/8 inches (47.3 x 39.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.
Paul Klee (Swiss, 1879-1940), Twittering Machine, 1922, watercolor and pen and ink on oil transfer drawing on paper, mounted on cardboard, 25 1/4 x 19 inches (63.8 x 48.1 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See Bauhaus.
Francis Picabia (French, 1879-1953), Conversation I, 1922, watercolor and pencil on paper, 59.5 x 72.4 cm, Tate Gallery, London.
Charles Demuth (American, 1883-1935), Daisies, 1925, watercolor, New Britain Museum of Art, CT.
Georgia O'Keeffe (American, 1887-1986), Evening Star, III, 1917, watercolor on paper, 8 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches (22.7 x 30.4 cm), Museum of Modern Art, NY. See nocturne.
Egon Schiele (Austrian, 1890-1918), Seated Woman, Back View, 1917, watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper, 18 1/4 x 11 3/4 inches (46.4 x 29.8 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. See Expressionism.
Stuart Davis (American, 1892-1964), Hoboken, 1916, watercolor, published in the Liberator 1 (August 1918), Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
George Grosz (German, worked there and in USA, 1893-1959), A Married Couple, 1930, watercolor on paper, 66.0 x 47.3 cm, Tate Gallery, London. See Expressionism.
John Steuart Curry (American, 1897-1946), Fire Diver, 1934, watercolor on paper mounted on board, 22 1/2 x 15 1/2 inches, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO. See movement and vertical.
Also see binder, earth art, Index of American Design, seascape, stain, stain removal, wash, water gilding, watermark, waterproof, waterscape, and water-soluble.