Painting strong watercolours - how do you do that?

I am often asked about how I get watercolour to be so strong, vibrant and colourful. Painting strong watercolours is what I do and I am happy to answer folks questions here. I hope this is of value to painters and I welcome any comments, just use the box at the end of the post to add any points or questions you have.

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Alan Brain is a practicing painter and art teacher who is known for his

 paintings with that certain feeling.

Q. How do you get that powerful colour in watercolour? -mine are all a bit pale.

A. Most watercolour painters use lots of water and small amounts of paint. I reverse that. Get plenty of pigment on the paper that's where the colour is. Water is to awaken the pigment not to dilute it.

Q.What is your secret?

A. I don't have a secret. 

Q. What brand of watercolour do you use, they must be particularly strong?

A. I have my favourite brand of course but I will use any quality brand to get a particular colour I like. I have recently tried QoR and see no difference. I never use student quality and think students should not either. 

Spanish figure painting , abstract Senor!

These paintings demonstrate the range from strong watercolour to muted. Also the cleanliness is very important in the top two. The third is much more mixed and cleanliness is not so vital.

feelings paintings = next to K
quiet geometric art a restful landscape painting - nebulus

Q. What is the best advice you have for a watercolour painter?

A. Use less water. Less that is to paint with but use a lot to clean your brushes and palette; if they are not clean you are certain to spoil the colour the manufacturer produced so cleverly.

Q. How come your colours are so brilliant?

A. In fact they are not, not now anyway. Most of my colours are muted. But making paintings with strong watercolours is still my way, I am just mixing the colour more

Q. So why do they look so brilliant?

A.Brilliant is not the right word, I think you are simply enjoying colour. Colour vision is a wonderful gift that most of us have. We don't see one colour we see many. Colours in paintings react with each other on your retina so it is the mix of colours that can make a painting "brilliant"

Q. Okay, so how do I mix the colours.

A. By mix we mean to put one colour against another. And this is key. A colour comes alive (or not) depending upon the colour you put down in close proximity to it, particularly against it. Practice, prctice and practice some more - you'll get it just needs a bit of work. Oh and read up some colour theory too, and look at other artists work 

Q. So how do you decide which colours to put where?

A. Instinctively. Choose the colour your instincts tell you, asking yourself will it feel right. You will quickly learn what works for you and it is a wonderful journey to take. Your repertoire will increase and it will truly be yours. Your individuality will then show in your paintings. I have only one technical piece of advice about choosing colours - if you want them to sing keep the values (tones in UK English) close. Abrupt changes in value inhibit the eye from flowing through the painting.

paintings with feeling -unique minimal art - thin red line

This last painting really demonstrates the richness of watercolour. Strong watercolours are blended together and keyed by a small amount of pure colour.

Below are some more examples of paintings in strong watercolour...

minimal watercolour painting by alan brain art - elegance
minimal watercolour painting – elegance
Original Minimalist Painting   A geometric influence is evident in this minimal watercolour...
new paintings by alan brain original Spring!
new surreal paintings – Spring!
Original Abstract Painting   no prints no copies, just the unique original painting sold by...
watercolour painting mysterious abstract paintings-for-sale-in-watercolour screen
mysterious abstract paintings. – screen – a watercolour painting
Surreal Paintings For Sale   Watercolour like any other medium can be used to create...
contemporary abstract paintings with texture - flow
abstract paintings in pure watercolour – Flow
Original Abstract Painting   no prints no copies, just the unique original painting sold by...

How did I come to paint strong watercolours? Frustration with the traditional watercolour and the "rules" nearly stopped me painting but I was lucky to meet Skip Lawrence  - he showed me a better way and explained there are no watercolour police. His approach to art is now my approach.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and it helps you in your painting endeavours. Painting strong watercolours took an effort of will by me - I am English and most everyone expected me to paint transparently and make more of those traditional watercolours that seem to be demanded here. I don't conform. Artists should not conform, who wants sameness?

Are you interested in learning more? Please use the form below to enquire about my art tuition or any other point you have...

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Any questions? I will try to answer them

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all of the original abstract paintings above are unique pieces, no copies exist anywhere. To see more click the link below