Q & A
Q: What is the meaning of ...staining, opaque, transparent, and permanent, in the description of watercolor paint?
A: This area is very confusing for all watercolor painters because the information and rating is different among manufacturers. I use Holbein watercolor paint because it has the highest pigment concentration of any brand. It has colors that no other manufacturer has (i.e. Opera and Royal Blue, etc.); and some of my favorite colors like Yellow Ochre, Cerulean Blue, and Perm. Yellow Lemon, have less, little, or no white paint in them.
Now back to your original question, I will answer in layman's terms. Staining refers to the fact that the color will stain the paper and not be able to be removed. These colors are created with materials or chemicals that are dyes and such. (All of which I avoid using because I like to lift off dry color later if need.)
Opaque and transparent refer to how clear the color dries after application. This may be because of white paint added or the component needed to manufacture the particular color. Think of the difference between orange juice without pulp and another with heavy amounts of pulp included. It is still orange, just a matter of one being more clear. A new painter would want to avoid opaque paints as they can cause one to end up with muddy colors sooner. (Holbein's paints again have a greater quantity of transparent colors.)Permanent refers to the "light fast" quality of the color. Again in layman's terms, this means that some colors will fade spontaneously (Fugitive is the term used for these colors). These colors should be avoided because the color that looks great today and can fade 25 - 50% in a few years causing some great distress, not only for the artist but for the collector as well. Holbein paint for example makes a color Permanent Alizarin Crimson that is not going to fade; where ...other manufacturers make Alizarin Crimson and they fade in time.
Q: Do you prefer watercolor paper over watercolor canvas?A: For me it is not about which I prefer it's about understanding the characteristics of each and using those characteristics to your advantage. I of course grew up painting on paper and realized quickly that you should use high quality paper or your results will fail ; not because of your skill, but the simple fact that poor quality paper is much more difficult to paint with.
Watercolor canvas by Fredrix on the other hand has been out for only 8 years and I feel has some unique characteristics that appeal to me. First as a teacher I can keep the student's spirits high by being able to wipe off any mistakes again and again. Thus we can reduce the amount of frustration or disappointment on their part. Additionally the chances of a watermark or blossom appearing are greatly reduced when painting on watercolor canvas. On watercolor canvas the colors look brighter and the contrast bolder because there is absorption into the surface of the watercolor canvas. (These are all hallmarks of my work.) The lifting off of dry color is much easier on watercolor canvas vs. paper. (Again a technique I embrace.) Another major difference is that when you finish a painting on watercolor canvas you can spray seal (varnish) vs. preserving it under glass. Again that is a great difference because I often do night scenes or ones with dramatic shadows. When you frame and place a piece of glass over them there is a great amount of glare and reflection making it difficult to enjoy the art. Now with my paintings on watercolor canvas you can view them unaffected by reflection, glare distraction. Now for the first time I can paint some very large works of art 30 X 40, 30 X 60 even 30 X 72 without the problems of glass, weight, breakage, glare, reflection and distractions. (I'll discuss later why I never spray varnish a watercolor painting on paper.)
Q: How important is sketching in creating art?A: Well the backbone or the solid foundation to most art is the drawing; and your drawing skills with pencil will cross over into your brush skills. Things like correct prospective ...proportions ...etc. are important because it gives the viewer a comparison as to how they see the world around them. You don't want a viewer of your art to be distracted by unfamiliar angles or size comparisons that they are used to causing their focus to be distracted away from your "artistic direction" towards an issue that you were not intending.
This does not mean after you have a drawing in place that you have to paint up to that line perfectly. My purpose for painting is to stimulate the viewer's imagination into a world of color, or contrast etc., not trying to decide if I intended the roof of a building to be awkwardly constructed or why the bird in the sky looked like an airplane.