Painting on Paper generally involves the fine art of watercolors. Watercolors involve the mixing of colorants with water and using fine brush strokes on a ground generally made of paper.
Watercolors have the easy understated elegance which most other mediums lack. The ready mixing of water with the pigments gives the paintings a very fluid look. Paper is the ideal base for these paintings because it absorbs the colors very fast and dries very quickly too.
The History of Painting on Paper
With the invention of Paper in Chinain about 100 A.D. a new kind of art came into being, Watercolors, or Painting on Paper with water-soluble pigments. The Chinese used this medium the fullest possible extent and some calligraphies and paintings of this period is still preserved.
By the 12 th Century A.D, watercolors spread to Spain through the Moors. From Spain it spread to neighboring Italy. Italy has some of the worlds oldest paper manufactures.
Watercolors came into wide use during the late 15th century in Great Britain. Albrecth Durer was one of the earliest proponents of this medium. He painted a series of landscape paintings using water-soluble paints on parchment. The use of layers of transparent colors was to represent the dark tones, but for the light colors he used the tone of the paper.
By the 18th Century many artists began to recognize the possibilities of the medium. Many artists have had important roles in the development of this incredible medium but two of the most glittering luminaries are J.M.W. Turner and John Sell Cotman .
He is probably was the most famous English landscape painter, he was well versed with paper as a medium and used it in most innovative ways. He was one of the first artists to experiment with washes, wiping out, scratching out, and incorporating body colors. His innovative wash technique, which helped convey lights in the most breathtaking manner made him famous as the “painter of the light”.
His oil paintings might have been famous but his watercolors on paper were equally path breaking.
He was known as the father of “English watercolors” and his landscape paintings earned him a position in Britain's Royal Academy. He was a renowned Map Maker, which complemented to his understanding of the English landscapes.
His paintings of the Welsh countryside are still proclaimed to be one of the best paintings of the English landscape.
Watercolors - the colors
The colors used for paintings on paper are water-soluble pigments. The solidified form of the pigments is called gouache. These gouaches are made of ground pigments mixed with gum for body and glycerin and honey for viscosity. For opacity unpigmented filler is added and oil of clove is added to prevent mold.
A brush is generally used to apply watercolors. The colors are thinned with water before being applied on paper and water adds transparency to the paintings. This very transparency adds sparkle to these paintings because light passed through the thin film of paint and is reflected back to the viewer's eye.
Though different water-soluble colors are used for Painting on Paper white is traditionally never used, because the white color of the paper is the only white needed for such paintings.
Watercolor paintings need an understanding of colors because it is in its best when the colors blend into each other.
Painting on Paper is just another way of expressing creativity. The only difference is that the medium offers us with the luxury of depicting lights and colors in the subtlest ways.