All About Watercolor Granulation by Sarah Becktel


The next article was written by artist Sarah Becktel.

What’s granulation?

Granulation is an fascinating attribute of watercolor which causes the paint layer to look textured or mottled. This textured look is brought on by pigment particles clustering collectively reasonably than staying evenly dispersed throughout the layer of watercolor paint. This clustering creates areas of darker colour (the place the pigment is dense) and areas of lighter colour (the place the pigment is sparse.)

Watercolor paint is primarily composed of pigment (the colour) and a binder corresponding to gum arabic. Whether or not a watercolor will or is not going to granulate depends on the pigment(s) utilized in that colour. Pigments with bigger or irregularly formed particles are likely to granulate extra, whereas pigments with small, spherical, homogenous formed particles are likely to granulate much less.

Is there any solution to predict whether or not granulation will happen?

Pigments are usually categorized as both “inorganic” or “natural.” Inorganic pigments usually don’t include carbon and are primarily made with minerals that may be additional mixed or processed to create the ultimate pigment product. Conventional earth colours made with iron oxide (corresponding to siennas and umbers) and colours made with metals (corresponding to cobalt blue and cadmium pink) are some examples of inorganic pigments.

Natural pigments include carbon and are created both from animal/plant matter or by utilizing artificial natural chemistry. Most natural pigments utilized in artwork supplies immediately are man-made synthetics as a result of these are extra sturdy and lightfast than animal and plant-based natural pigments. Examples of artificial natural pigments are quinacridone pink, phthalo blue, and dioxazine violet.

Typically, watercolors made with inorganic pigments are likely to granulate greater than colours made with natural pigments. It is because natural pigments have very small and commonly formed particles, which creates paint that produces a fair utility of colour. Inorganic pigments usually have bigger and extra irregularly formed particles. This causes the particles to clump collectively and settle erratically on the paper, which creates granulation.

Within the picture above you possibly can see a side-by-side comparability of two MaimeriBlu watercolors on Strathmore 400 Sequence Watercolor paper. On the left is Cerulean Sky Blue, which is made with an inorganic pigment, and on the precise is Main Blue Cyan, which is made with an natural pigment. The Cerulean Sky Blue is displaying granulation, whereas the Main Blue Cyan is just not.

Nonetheless, the manufacturing of pigments can differ from producer to producer, and figuring out whether or not a pigment is natural or inorganic is just one consider figuring out whether or not a colour will granulate. For instance, there could also be 2 completely different firms that produce a watercolor paint from the identical inorganic pigment. One firm makes use of a model of that pigment that’s extra finely floor, whereas the opposite makes use of a model that’s extra coarsely floor. Although they’re utilizing the identical pigment, the finely floor model will granulate much less, and the coarser floor model will granulate extra. Due to this fact, categorizing inorganic pigments as granulating and natural pigments as non-granulating is a useful start line, however it’s a generality reasonably than a concrete rule and you’ll most likely come throughout colours that don’t match inside this framework.

Earlier than buying new watercolors, I like to recommend trying out a model’s web site for each product info and colour charts. Some manufacturers embody granulation info proper of their literature or packaging, and lots of manufacturers even have colour charts that present painted swatches on paper. MaimeriBlu’s on-line colour chart is a good instance; every colour swatch exhibits the watercolor utilized to a textured watercolor paper and it is rather straightforward to see which colours granulate and which don’t.

Can I management granulation?

Though we are able to’t fully management granulation, there are methods to govern the looks or quantity of granulation. One solution to affect granulation is with the paper floor you might be engaged on. A chilly press or tough watercolor paper has a really textured floor with excessive factors and low factors. These textured surfaces encourage granulation as a result of the pigment particles will clump and settle within the low factors of the paper texture. Sizzling press or blended media surfaces are likely to have a smoother floor texture. Granulation will nonetheless happen on these papers, however the granulating pigment particles will transfer and settle randomly, and the granulation might look much less pronounced since these papers don’t have outstanding hills and valleys of texture.

The picture above exhibits MaimeriBlu Cobalt Inexperienced watercolor utilized to 4 completely different Strathmore papers. Every paper has a special floor texture which subtly impacts the looks of the granulation.

One other solution to manipulate granulation is to experiment with the quantity of watercolor paint you utilized to the paper. When a considerable amount of liquid is utilized to the paper, the pigment particles can simply transfer round and settle into the low factors of the paper. This creates a pronounced granulation impact. When much less liquid is utilized to the paper, the pigment particles don’t have the flexibility to maneuver and stream as a lot, so there will probably be much less seen granulation.

The picture above exhibits two samples of MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink utilized to the identical floor: Strathmore 500 Sequence Imperial Watercolor Paper (chilly press.) For the pattern on the left, I loaded up my brush and utilized a considerable amount of the watercolor combination to the paper. For the pattern on the precise, I used much less of my paint combination and utilized it to the paper with a drier brush.

Lastly, granulation may be manipulated by mixing colours collectively. Should you combine a non-granulating colour with a granulating colour, the granulation impact will probably be obvious within the combination, and you may experiment with completely different quantities of every colour to get your required quantity of granulation.

Within the picture above, I’ve blended MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink (which granulates) and MaimeriBlu Everlasting Violet Blue (which doesn’t granulate.) You possibly can see granulation within the ensuing combination, and it’s also possible to see some separation of the 2 pigments throughout the combination. Within the darker areas with extra granulation, the colour leans in direction of Potter’s Pink, and within the areas with much less density of granulated pigments, to paint leans in direction of the Everlasting Violet Blue.

Granulation is a enjoyable and distinctive function of watercolor that I hope you’ll all be impressed to discover. Experimenting with the chances of natural and inorganic pigments, paper surfaces, and utility methods can create countless potentialities for incorporating granulation into your artwork.

Sarah Becktel is an American artist primarily based in Southern New Jersey. She earned her BFA in portray from the Tyler College of Artwork and continued her research of representational drawing and portray at a number of areas. Sarah has proven her work in solo and group exhibitions all through america and her work is in non-public collections the world over.

Sarah creates work and drawings which can be impressed by animals, pure historical past, and ecology. She travels extensively to view animals of their pure environments and lots of of her works are a results of her experiences in nature. Sarah additionally finds inspiration in pure historical past museums the place she will be able to examine and be taught in regards to the animal species of bygone eras.

When Sarah is just not working in her studio or touring, she is educating artists and college students about their mediums and supplies. As an Artist Educator for Strathmore Artist Papers, Sarah lectures at artwork faculties and ateliers in regards to the traits of artwork supplies and the way to decide on the precise merchandise for every artist’s particular person wants. She served as Product Analysis Director for the Coloured Pencil Society of America from 2009 to 2015, which led to a wealthy understanding of lightfast testing and artwork supplies manufacturing.

You possibly can see extra of Sarah’s work right here:

Web site: www.sarahbecktel.com

Instagram: @sarahbecktel

Fb: @sarahbecktelartist

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