Watercolour has an anomalous position in the visual arts. Its association with Victorian lady-amateurs, the (incorrect) idea that it is a fugitive medium and will fade over time, as well as the contradictory ideas that it is very difficult to use and that it is a beginner’s medium, mean that it has long been sidelined in favour of oil and acrylic paints. But ‘Watercolour’, a recent blockbuster show at the Tate Britain, and the contemporary interest in less conventional media point to a renewed interest in this underrated art-form.
Watercolour painting does have particular difficulties – it is transparent and therefore fairly unforgiving, for a start – but its advantages are huge. It is light and easy to carry the kit about, it is easy to clean and to prepare, it is unobtrusive, and a lot of the material you need you will already have around the house – a jam jar, water and don’t forget the most important item: toilet tissue!
Watercolour is also a great and constantly evolving challenge, and can be used in all sorts of ways. Within these pages a range of artists share their very diverse approaches to painting in watercolour, to give the reader an idea of how adaptable and enjoyable this medium really is.