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Techniques - Watercolours
Matisse Derivan - Proudly Australian Owned and Made


Traditional watercolour techniques can be achieved easily with Matisse Colours. Using selected Matisse Mediums will not only allow the artist to work with Matisse Colours, as they would with traditional watercolours, but also open up a whole new area of creative possibilities.

The bright vibrant colours normally associated with watercolours are achieved by diluting watercolours with water. The watercolours are made transparent and allow light to pass through them and bounce back off the paper giving a rich brilliance. The same brilliance can be achieved when using acrylics for watercolour techniques.

The Matisse Professional Artist Acrylic range features both thick heavy-bodied acrylics known as Matisse Structure and a thinner viscosity range known as Matisse Flow. Both are equally as strong in binder and pigment content; however, the Matisse Flow would be the best selection for watercolour techniques. The Matisse Flow range will flow more easily, particularly when diluted with water, responding well to all watercolour techniques usually employed.

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Watercolour vs Acrylics:

When using Matisse Colours for watercolour techniques, the artist must keep in mind that Matisse Colours, unlike traditional watercolours, are waterfast when dry. In other words, they will not re-wet once they have dried. Traditional watercolours are based on the binder gum arabic. This binder is soluble in water and will re-wet in water. Matisse Colours are based on a high quality acrylic binder which, when dry, will not re-wet with water.

If re-wetting of the colour is desired, add 20% or more MM1 Drying Retarder to the Matisse Colours. This will inhibit the "binding" of the acrylic and allow the Matisse Colours to re-wet even when dry.

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A wash, as the name suggests, is a layer of transparent or thinned down paint. This is useful for large areas such as skies. A wash is generally an even coverage of pigment although it can also be graduated or variegated. A graduated wash changes from more intense to less intense in colour. A variegated wash is one which changes from one colour to another.

To achieve an even wash, approx 3-5% MM3 Surface Tension Breaker added to the water will help produce an even flow to avoid "stripes or lines" as the wash is applied.

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A glaze is the term given to a wash that is painted over another colour usually to produce a third colour. There is no limit to the number of glazes that can be used; however, too many over each other may lead to the loss of clarity and result in dullness. The beauty of using Matisse Colours for glazing is that glazes can be applied without the fear of lifting off or mixing with the previous work.

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Wet in wet:

This is the term given to painting one colour into another colour before the first colour has dried. By adding at least equal parts or more of water to paint, the paint will become very thin. This will generally allow the colours to bleed into each other without harsh lines separating them.

Some pigments may blend with each other more readily. This is due to the difference in surface tension of the pigments. If blending is desired, use 3-5% MM3 Surface Tension Breaker in the water to dilute the paint. Adding MM3 will allow the pigments to mix more readily.

This technique will take some practice to master and is not completely controllable. The paper to be used should be dampened down well and kept moist. It is advisable to use up to 5% MM1 Drying Retarder mixed into the water that is to be used to mix with the paint.

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Wet on dry:

This describes the method of painting over a layer which has already dried. A glaze is usually done wet on dry. Using Matisse Colours, previous work will not be re-wet whilst overpainting; therefore, they will not mix in and muddy the colours or bleed.

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When adding water to achieve a wash, some pigments will look grainy or as though the individual particles of pigment can be seen. The pigments used in Matisse Colours are each ground to a predetermined particle size. The size required is determined by the pigment type, chemical nature, transparency, etc. The pigment particle size is far smaller than can be seen with the naked eye. What appear to be grains are actually "clumps" of pigment particles drawn together by their own surface tension.

If this is the effect that is sought, all well and good. However, when the pigment groups together, the paint is not as efficient as it should be so more paint is needed to cover the same area.

To avoid "clumps" of pigment, add 3-5% of MM3 Surface Tension Breaker to the mixing water. This will help to disperse the pigments.

One advantage of using Matisse Colours for watercolour techniques is that the application of full strength opaque colour covers up unwanted underpainting or mistakes. Also, extremely strong pigmentation may be used without having the paint crack or flake off the surface as is the case with most watercolours and gouaches.

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Matisse Derivan 1 Northcote Street Mortlake NSW 2137 Australia
Tel: (02) 9736 2022 Fax: (02) 9736 3637 Email: matisse@matisse.com.au