Writing with watercolor

Watercolor consists of pigments which are mixed with water and a binding agent (like gum arabic). They are available in liquid form in tubes, or in solid form in small pans. For calligraphic purposes you can go with the inexpensive palettes that usually come with a lot of colors.
Tubes are easier to handle when you need large batches of paint, plus you can dip the nib directly into your mixing container. Solid paint has to be applied to the nib with a brush.

Mixing watercolor

  • Watercolor from a tube is practically ready to use: you only have to add a bit of water in an extra container until it has the consistency of whole milk (I’ve explained here in depth how you mix colors). Watercolor can be diluted up to the point where it’s almost translucent.
  • Watercolor that comes in solid bricks has to be softened with a bit of water and is applied on to the nib with a paintbrush.

The right writing technique for watercolor

Watercolor runs out of the nib very quickly, the thicker the paint, the more often you’ll have to refill. The color changes while you write and becomes more translucent – this is an effect you might know from very thin ink, where it’s not desired. For calligraphy with watercolor it’s a beautiful effect.
Apart from that, the writing technique is the same as with ink. Watercolor and calligraphy go very well together, especially when you choose the right paper.

Tips and tricks

  • Since watercolor is very thin, it doesn’t usually clog the nib – of course it should be cleaned well at the end.
  • If the paint doesn’t flow from the nib, it’s either to thick and should be thinned further, or you can just dip the very tip of your nib into water.
  • For achieving a beautiful changing effect, in which the color change in the midst of a word you can apply different colors with a brush. The new color should always be applied behind the old one on the nib.



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