Not all watercolors are created equally. Our featured artist, Monika Pate, harnesses the power of transparent watercolors to their full ability. We wanted to know more about how she uses this unique medium and how it differs from the watercolors we think of.
Take a look at Monika’s work. The vibrance of the colors, and sharp contrast between dark and light, the beautiful layering of watercolor, all are made by using transparent watercolors, rather than opaque watercolors. When one thinks of watercolors, opaque watercolors tend to be the norm.
So what are transparent watercolors? These watercolors sit on the paper, letting the most amount of light through, resulting in bright, vibrant colors. Opaque watercolors let little light in, and can appear muddy or chalky. When layering watercolors, transparent watercolors allow color to show, mixing well, while opaque lets less color and light through and are less effective when mixing or layering.
Each has its own purpose within the watercolor world, and depending on your style and preferences, you can utilize transparent or opaque watercolors, or both. When creating hyperrealistic paintings, similar to Monika Pate’s The Illusion of Light, you might want to use those transparent watercolors. They allow the greatest freedom with color and layering, and allow the artist to create beautiful scenes. Opaque watercolors, though different from transparent, have their use as well. If you are trying for a darker or more dramatic look, or want to use a paint that is easier to lift once put on the paper, reach for the opaque paints.
Are you an aspiring watercolor artist and want to know what kind of watercolors you have? One test is to paint a long black stripe on your paper and let it dry. Once it dries, using small perpendicular strokes, paint over the black stripe with color. Now, look at the paint. Does it look like it is on top of the black stripe or below it? If on top, you have opaque watercolors. If it appears below, you have transparent watercolors.
We’ll have Monika Pate with us during May First Friday to answer all of your burning questions about transparent watercolor, her technique, and anything else you may be dying to ask her. Join us from 6-9 PM on May 4th to experience the last few days of Monika’s exhibit, Laura Pasket’s pop up show, and to meet the artist herself!
For more info about transparent watercolors, check out the video below.