I respond personally to emails received, but post here my answers to some frequently asked questions (FAQ) ... Keep on painting!
The amount of information here is overwhelming. Where should I begin?
Start by reading the intro to understand what I've tried to do and why I tried to do it. Key topics are crosslinked to related material in other sections. Just follow your interests.
Several artists have told me that they have (or "someone they know" has) printed out entire sections of the site. You can get some bandwidth relief by using your web browser to save pages to your hard drive. But I discourage printing or downloading, as the content is still evolving (one of the great beauties of hypertext), and printouts destroy the links between pages.
If you do print, see these printing instructions and reprinting instructions for personal or educational use. My preference is that people who receive printed copies of this site's content will know it comes from a web site, and have the URL where they can find the materials for themselves.
I'm a beginning painter. Help!
I would like to return to trying watercolor painting. I painted some when I was in high school with not bad results. Where do you recommend I start? What colors/paints should I get? What paper?
I regret this isn't just a step by step instructional site: it provides extensive and interlinked information to art instructors and self teaching individuals. My hope that exploring the site, and finding answers to your questions by persistent search, enjoyable browsing or unexpected discovery, will reflect the process of learning to paint in watercolors through persistent practice, enjoyable recreation and happy accident.
The pages on a basic palette, how to test watercolor papers and how to test watercolor brushes provide important basic material on the basic tools, and while I don't recommend brands of art materials, the guide to watercolor papers, guide to watercolor brushes and watercolor brands should provide enough information to put major brands in context and pique your interest in a specific direction. The techniques section is large but browsing may help with specific questions.
I've posted an entire page on beginning watercolor books, and amazon.com will get them to you in a matter of days. The title selection is not current and is certainly not exhaustive, but if the review indicates I found value in the book then I think you will find value in it too.
Everything else comes down to a single principle: keep on painting! We are all beginners at watercolors, that's why they are so fascinating. The real obstacles to beginners are the inner obstacles fear of the unknown, fear of failure, apathy, or discouragement as well as the difficulty of working alone. The journal describes some of my experiences, which may be similar to your own. But the sure way to heal any difficulty is just to let go and enjoy the simple experience of painting. It's the best way to discover your vision!
Your website is excellent for quality color theory and pigment info. One thing I wish, though, is that you would explain how all this relates to oils and acrylics. Many oil and acrylic painters I know refer to your website for color theory info, but not knowing if it can be applied to oils and acrylics.
Color is an attribute of visual experience, not an attribute in the physical world, so there are many psychological color principles that apply across all painting media. The information on light and the eye, colormaking attributes, the geometry of color, basic forms of color, adaptation, anchoring & contrast, additive & subtractive color mixing, do "primary" colors exist?, color in the world, tonal value, color temperature, color wheels, the visual complementary colors, the artist's color wheel and paint wheels is generally applicable to oil and acrylic media as well.
However, subtractive color mixing arises in physical substances, not in the mind, so caution is necessary when interpreting the information on mixing with a color wheel, the artist's value wheel (many pigments have a different value and higher chroma in oil or acrylic vehicles), painting in neturals, watercolor mixing complements and watercolor drying shifts.
The information on pigment color appearance, chemical makeup and historical use in the guide to watercolor pigments and pigment types, the industry information in pigment manufacture, and the labeling and testing information on the material attributes of paints and labeling, lightfastness & toxicity, alongside the equivalent information in the Mayer or Gottsegen painting handbooks, will help you to understand issues of branding, lightfastness and some pigment attributes in oil or acrylic media as well. If you have specific questions or concerns, write and ask.
Many watercolor painters have directed me to your site & rightfully so. I've found tons of straight info & even prices here but all for watercolor. Do you know of any website that gives similar info re Oil paint?
Sorry, I don't. My guess is that oil painters are smarter than watercolor painters, and no oil painter would be dumb enough to go to all this work. (Just kidding.) However, a reader recently pointed me to this oil painting site, and it may get you started.
I have three paintings in watercolor I am trying to identify the artist. They are signed "Arno" and they seem to be from a period of time from the 1950's-70's. They are of the eiffle [sic] tower, notre dame, and one I cannot identify the building. Can you tell me about them?
i am trying to find out who painted this watercolor dated 1878 i think the initals are H.W valle cruis north wales thanks for your time.
I have inherited two watercolors of marine scenes. The pictures are signed H FOSTER. I live in Pembrokeshire in West Wales UK. Have you any idea about the value of such pictures. They are in excellent condition and the colors appear not to have faded.
We have a watercolor that has been in the family for years. It is a large scene with mountains and a river and animals near the water. The signature is either S ebast or Sebast. Have you ever heard of an artist with that last name.
I have a watercolor print of a cowboy on a horse signed by what looks like H. K. Leigh with a date of 1943. Does anybody know of this artist? Would appreciate any information on the artist.
We have an original watercolor painting that we are wondering about. It is signed by C Warbuxio Young 1914. Any ideas? It is of some sheep in a valley. The spelling of the name is not too clear.
As you might guess from this sampling of the queries I receive, I can't answer questions about watercolor artists, paintings, art prints or art reproductions, especially those you bought at flea market, found in the attic, snagged on eBay, or inherited from your dear grandmother. Not even if you send me a photo of the painting.
If you want to identify an artist, use search for his or her name, or ask the reference librarian at your local city or university library for reference assistance. Be advised: just because your painting is signed with a name does not mean an artist with that name did the painting. Prints, copies and forgeries are not uncommon in art markets everywhere.
If you want to know whether the painting is genuine or a fake, or who actually made the painting, or when it was done, or whether it is in good or bad condition, or how much it is worth, or where you can sell it, you need to take it to a qualified appraiser so that he or she can actually examine it, up close and personal. Look in the phone book under "art appraiser," or call a local fine arts gallery, antique store or museum for an appraiser referral.
Until an expert actually inspects the art, the mounting, and the signature or provenance documentation (if any) that comes with it, you will learn absolutely nothing useful about a painting by writing an email.
Will this watercolor website be published as a book?
I've explored opportunities to have the web site published as a book, but won't make any decisions until the site is completed. Meanwhile, I like having the information available as a web site ... it's free, it's easy to update with new information, the hypertext format is perfect to tie ideas together, and I can wait for the royalties.
It is inconvenient for me to refer to your materials on the computer. Can you publish the site content as Adobe Acrobat files?
It is not feasible for me to store the content on my web site as duplicate .pdf (Acrobat) files. However, the Adobe Acrobat 7.0 (and some earlier versions) software includes an option ("FILE > CREATE PDF FILE > FROM WEB PAGE") that will convert an online document into a pdf file on your computer.
In addition, the software for some computer printers can convert web pages to Acrobat files. For example, my Canon Stylus Photo 960 printer offers "save as PDF" as an option in the printer control panel when I print pages from my web browser.
Most web browsers will now save entire web pages as an "archive" that includes both text and images that you can browse on a computer (such as a laptop) that is not connected to the internet. Let the page load completely, so that all images are visible, then look for the Save as Web Page or Save as Web Archive option in the menu that appears when you enter the Save command [CNTL+S].
Most web browsers can print the pages on this site quite well, provided you have a decent quality inkjet printer. First click on the Page Setup option in your browser's pulldown File menu, and use the control panel to adjust the document enlargement ("scale" or "size") and the page orientation ("portrait" or "landscape") to get the best printing results for your equipment. (Note that you can use the Font Size option in the Preferences pulldown menu of your web browser to make the printed text larger or smaller.) Then use Print to print the web page. (You may have to repeat this procedure for each web page.)
Is it OK to print out this info and share it with my students in our watercolor classes?
Yes, this paragraph constitutes your permission to print out or download to your personal computer sections of the site, or copy or reproduce any diagrams or text excerpts, but only for personal use or as instructional materials in a painting class or other educational activity.
When you do this the following restrictions must be met: (1) text and diagrams must be distributed as is: pages or page subsections may not be edited, revised, expanded or altered in any way (other than changing font sizes, text lineation or page orientation to facilitate printing); (2) reprinted materials must include the document's original and complete URL at the top or bottom of pages printed entire (most web browsers will insert this automatically if you use them to print the pages), or at the top or bottom of the first page; (3) cited materials must always include the author and copyright attribution, for eample:
Last revised [date] © [year] Bruce MacEvoy
which always appears at the bottom of each web page.
You may not supersede this copyright attribution with any other or any different authorship or copyright attribution, for example by including the materials in an edited volume.
You may not charge distribution or lending fees, or otherwise resell this information, not even to defray copying expenses.
In general, I want users of this information to understand it is taken from a web site and to know the URL of the web site so they can access the most recent version of the information for themselves. This is an educational, nonprofit, public service site, free to all; and it is largely based on original research, funded at my expense.
The content of all pages on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported.
I am a high school student and I am trying to site your sight [sic sic!], could you, as the author, please give me your name? I have searched and read, and still not found.
I am in the process of writing a book on abstract painting techniques (oil and acrylic). I am interested in using some of the material you have placed on your handprint site relating to color perception. What I'd like to do is reference your site in my bibliography.
A useful resource for site citation questions is the electronic reference guidelines in the American Psychological Association's Publication Manual (5th edition), considered by many to be the standard style reference for academic writing (and highly acceptable to most high school instructors).
The APA recommends the following template for World Wide Web citations:
(1) the page title or page subsection title in quotes, ending in a period.
"Lightfastness with a grain of salt." Handprint Watercolors, July 26, 2001. Retrieved January 14, 2002, from http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt6.html#salt.
If you are working on a book for publication, then your editor will usually decide how a web site should be cited. Normally the author's name is also required (see below). Whatever citation style you choose, Internet posted materials are a form of publication or broadcast, like any other, and are entitled by law to equivalent citation and copyright consideration.
I am writing to ask, may I post a link to your web site on my web site?
The World Wide Web is a distribution medium for global open publishing. Citation and quotation are among the foundation practices of free speech and free press. In global open publishing, citation is always allowed in the form of a link from one web site or document to another.
You do not need the permission of a web site or any person connected with the web site to place a link to that site in your own web pages, in the same way that you do not need the permission of an author or his publisher to cite the author's publication in the bibliography or index of your research paper, magazine article or book.
Would you post a link to my web site on your site?
I'm eager to support online art businesses with product or service reviews, and fellow artist or art research sites through referral links. However, to assure impartiality and accuracy, I only review retailers I have actually shopped from, and art products I've actually used.
I do not link to other artist or informational sites unless I feel they provide a useful, unique or praiseworthy experience; I don't simply "trade links" in an attempt to build site traffic or search engine rankings.
Hello, I am a boy who like to paint, most with watercolors, I am from El Salvador and i'm 16 years of old. I found your page ago 1 year so so. I can speak some english so a 50% or 60% for read or write, and a pair dictionary which helps me to read your page.
To my readers who read French, German, Italian or Spanish: you can translate web pages at google.com. Just enter the URL of the page you want to translate, select the language, and the translation will load in your browser window. For example:
A mis lectores que leyeron francés, alemán, italiano o español: usted puede traducir las páginas de la tela en google.com. Apenas incorpore el URL de la página que usted desea traducir, seleccionan la lengua, y la traducción cargará en su ventana de browser (translation by Google).
May I translate your pages and post them on the web?
Several users have requested permission to translate some of the content on my web site into Spanish, German, Russian, French ... and after my experience with online translation apps, it seems reasonable to permit this.
The five ground rules I ask you to follow are:
(1) You do not have to send me your translation for my review or approval; I can't read Russian or Spanish, anyway. However, you must send me the URL of the translated page, so that I can at least look it over to ensure it complies with the following restrictions.
(2) You must call all images from the handprint.com domain: that is, you may not download any photograph, diagram, image or illustration to your web server so that you can load it into your translation page. You must point the translation page to the figures as they are stored on my server. For example, an image tag that appears this way in the HTML source code on my server:
must be changed by adding the boldface text to the translation HTML on your server:
This allows me to track usage on your server through my own web statistics, and it ensures the image in your translation will be the most up to date version, in case I decide to alter or replace it.
(3) You must include the following citation in English at the beginning of the translated page:
This is a translation of the page "[title of page or section]" by Bruce MacEvoy, at [URL of page], in the version downloaded on [date of translation].
This is a translation of the page "Synthetic Organic Pigments" by Bruce MacEvoy, at http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/pigmt1d.html, in the version downloaded on March 5, 2007.
This allows your readers to identify and refer to the original English version of the page, specifically in case your translation is unclear, or the page has been revised or updated since you downloaded and translated it, or they wish to cite the page in a publication.
(4) You must include the following copyright statement in English (and in the translation language, if you want), just below the citation (3):
All contents © 2008 Bruce MacEvoy. Translation into [your language] © [date of translation] [your name].
(5) Finally, access to the translation must be free and unrestricted; it may not be posted on a web site that requires users to pay a membership or per view fee, or a web site that requires users to register (use a password) in order to enter. This ensures the translated page can be located by search engines such as DuckDuckGo, using the English language version of my name or the page title.
Where can I get personal advice about my painting problems?
If you need an encouraging hand, you can probably find a highly qualified teacher in your area: look for a bulletin board or listings at your local art supplies store. Many artists host workshops through local community colleges. Several of the online retailers, such as Cheap Joe's and Daniel Smith, list workshops, workshop videos and books at their sites. They also have online bulletin boards where you can post questions for "community" replies ... and the advice you can get there is sometimes pretty good. There are also advice oriented artist sites such as wetcanvas.com. And a few teaching artists have their own web sites Nita Leland and Ellen Fountain, for example with many excellent resources, referral links, and sometimes personal assistance.
Which watercolor paint do you think is better, Brand X or Brand Y?
Do you think I should use Brand X brushes? I like the Brand Y brushes but now they seem to be hard to find.
Brand X makes an "Ultramarine Green Shade" and a "French Ultramarine". I paint both marinescapes and landscapes with California missions. Which ultramarine do you think would be a better fit for my preferences?
I am sometimes astonished at the requests I get for detailed art materials guidance. One dear retired woman spent an entire week wheedling and haranguing me by email to tell her which specific paint brands and paint colors she should use in her palette.
I am not qualified to offer you advice about the tools or materials you use because I do not know your temperament, your painting style, your budget, the level of your painting skill, your color sense or your tool preferences. Testing your materials for yourself and making choices for yourself increases your understanding and confidence and helps you use your materials with greater skill. You must discover by patient experimentation the paints, brushes and papers that work best with your technique and artistic vision, and this discovery is a natural part of your artistic development.
So: no, I don't recommend specific brands or types of art materials to individuals. My evaluations of watercolor brands describe most of the paints available in the USA and my personal assessment of the product and technical information from each manufacturer. The guide to watercolor pigments describes the available pigments in watercolors, so that you can choose the paint ingredients you want. The comments in the guide should help you find the pigments that have attributes you are looking for. Finally, the pages on the material attributes of paints, doing your own lightfastness tests and paint wheels explain how to evaluate paints on your own. There are similar materials available for brushes and papers as well.
Why don't you include a review of Brand X paints (papers, brushes)?
I had two aims in building this site: (1) record my progress as I learned how to paint, and (2) document what I had learned for the benefit of others. As I progressed, I explored the diversity of products, learned to identify the points that distinguish good products from bad, and passed along my findings and methods so that you can evaluate products for yourself.
I have tried to balance brand and product selections so that they are representative, if not comprehensive. For example, the paints described in the guide to watercolor pigments were chosen because they were formulated with a specific pigment. Pigments were sampled in at least two brands, if possible, to show how much the pigment color appearance and handling attributes vary across brands. However, it seemed useful to sample important or common pigments, such as ultramarine blue or phthalo blue and phthalo green, across as many brands as feasible. Similar considerations applied to papers and brushes. I saw no reason to test each paint in every brand available, and I explain in this section why I think published "paint guides" are not very practical. If a paint brand is not discussed on this site, it is because I had already sampled enough ultramarine blue or cadmium yellow by the time that brand came to my attention, or because its paints are primarily mixtures of two or more pigments, or because it is not widely regarded as an artists' quality brand.
What I've started, you can finish: identify for yourself the materials that work best for you, research reputable brands to find a company you trust, then test their products to make sure the materials you have chosen are up to the quality you were promised.
Who are you?
My name is Bruce MacEvoy ... I'm a middle aged male, passed my youth as a bartender, ski bum, waiter, renaissance lutenist and graphic artist, went on to pursue a doctorate in psychology at Cornell University, taught at the University of California Irvine, worked for a decade as an international business consultant at SRI International, cofounded the dot com research company Affinicast (aka Personify), was for three years director of research at Yahoo!, and retired in August 2000 to Sonoma County, California, where I practice painting and drawing full time. My learning experiences in watercolors (which may resemble your own) are described in the journal and the notes to my paintings. Most interesting personal fact: I hate hyphens.
Are you still working on the site? When will you finish the section on techniques?
Believe it or not, I am still working on the site ... unfortunately I am also painting full time, traveling, taking courses, chasing my wife around the garden, entertaining friends, hunting gophers, so the work goes slowly. Check the updates page to see when new materials are available. And, whatever you do ... keep on painting!
Click on the green arrow to go to the top.