What Distinguishes Transparent Watercolor?
When asked, "What makes a painting utilizing
transparent watercolor different from one using an opaque medium?",
the first word that comes to my mind is LUMINOSITY. This is the
single most distinguishing attribute of a well executed transparent
watercolor painting. Unfortunately, as most of us already know,
we can't just pick up some "luminous" tubes of paint
and start painting.
Think of transparent watercolors as similar
to stained glass windows. Stained glass is most resplendent when
light comes from behind. The same is true with transparent watercolors.
Light passes and refracts through the pigments and then bounces
back from the paper through the crystalline pigment particles,
simulating a stained glass effect. This effect is something to
keep in mind as you study this medium. You should always be cognizant
of what it will take to achieve the "glow." Simultaneously,
you'll need to know what will destroy the effect.
Transparent watercolor probably requires more
forethought and conviction than most, if not all, other mediums.
There are methods to lift color and "start over" but,
frankly, these are very detectable even when done well. Yet,
when handled competently, transparent watercolor offers the reward
of luminosity. Enough motivation for mastering the medium! We
don't necessarily need to become purists of transparent watercolor
technique; rather, we should strive to present the most comprehensive
work we can produce, by competently utilizing the advantages
of the medium.
At some point, we need to understand our motivations for choosing
to paint; but for now, we need to understand why we choose a
medium that's full of both serendipitous and disappointing surprises.
Our challenge is to tip the balance in favor of the former.
How are you going to do this? By taking the
time to read and utilize the information in the book and explore
what is most important to learn first about transparent watercolors
... the "nuts and bolts" ... the knowledge that supports
the craft of painting. It is as basic as learning the tools of
any trade, but is often neglected. Would you consider learning
the skills of woodworking by beginning with a china cabinet of
a costly hardwood? Not very likely ... you'd read, absorb, visualize
what you read, and then practice handling the tools proficiently
before venturing on.
In studying the mechanics you'll learn what
you can and cannot do with transparent watercolors. You'll learn
the differences and relationships of paint, the differences in
papers, and how to prepare it for painting. You'll also learn
how to select brushes, make lighting choices for a studio and
generally better understand the watercolor painter's hardware.
All you really lack is useful information. Read and practice
... until you feel more in "harmony" with your equipment.
You'll then paint spontaneously with crisp results. If you first
learn the craft of transparent watercolors, you'll not only become
a better painter, you'll also be better able to adroitly express
Despite stressing the importance of first
learning the mechanical processes of transparent watercolors,
I assure you, it isn't the most important aspect of art. Your
creative expression is far more important, but without the means
to state it effectively, you could become disappointed with your
results and prematurely reject this provocative medium.
The following two reviews are posted
with the famous on-line bookseller, Amazon.com.
Average Customer Review:
email@example.com from Texas, October
This is a great book if you really want to understand why some
color combinations work and others don't. Mr. Kosvanec has developed
a color wheel that goes beyond the standard color wheel. The
book's color wheel is a fold out and is perforated so it may
be torn out and used easily. This new wheel deals with the actual
pigments and their characteristics used in the majority of watercolor
He divides the paint into nonstaining:transparant
& semitransparant - staining:transparant - opaque & semiopaque
and finally whitened & blackened colors. The book then shows
in detail the results of mixing these different types of pigments
to achieve luminous paintings or why some mixed together usually
result in "mud".
There is a chapter that analyzes both
some of his own and guest artists' paintings for their color
mixing & pigment choices and why they worked. There is a
chapter on water-to-pigment ratio and keeping colors clean. There
is a chapter on achieving luminous grays and another discussing
various types of paper from different manufacturers and how this
too can change the results of a watercolor. He shows in one chapter
the difference student-grade paints make compared to artist quality.
Throughout the book there is a wealth
of detail and illustrations for the book to be a joy to read
simply for generating ideas. This book is not really geared to
be a beginning watercolor book. But if you are ready to go beyond
the many beginning watercolor books available then this book
will not disappoint.
A reader from USA , June 5, 1998
No more mud when painting James Kosvanec is a wizard. His understanding
of transparent color is wondrous. Before this book I struggled
with inconsistent results. My first painting after reading this
book was clean and every color sparkled. If you want consistent
results get this book.