Watercolor Mediums

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Watercolor Mediums


Watercolor mediums change the working characteristics of paint, or of the surface that you are painting on. They can create special visual and textural effects, such as iridescence, granulation, and wax resistance.


Blending medium extends drying time of colors and aids in blending with other colors. Other mediums increase brilliance and transparency, or alter the absorption of the surface. Prepare your surface with a primer or watercolor ground. They’ll enhance and alter the surface for a wide variety of techniques.


Gum arabic, the binder used in traditional watercolors and gouache, is a natural gum derived from the acacia tree of sub-Saharan Africa. It is completely non-toxic as well as edible, and its major use is in the food and cosmetics industries. It serves as an ideal binder for watercolors because it dissolves so easily in water, yet dries to form a thin layer that binds pigment to a paper surface. Add additional gum arabic to watercolors to increase their transparency and gloss, while extending drying time.


Wetting Agents are substances that reduce the surface tension of water. They help watercolor paints to spread and blend more easily, to penetrate the surface of the paper and its sizing. Watercolor paints contain wetting agents to increase working time and prevent them from drying out. Oxgall, extracted from the gall bladders of oxen as a byproduct of meat production, is the traditional wetting agent used by watercolor painters. Modern synthetic wetting agents are also available.