How Watercolor Paints Are Like Words In A Relationship

If words are “things” that we all know, that are part of our common “language” – then can paint be the “words” of the language of art expression?

If words are things we use to make language, pieces of language – then can paint be things we use to create art – the raw materials, the pieces we use?

As words have been made by other humans, as paints have (most of the time) been made by other humans, then can paint be a common thread?

Like words?

The Written Transcript:

This is Rori.

Today, we’re going to talk about paint in Watercolor Your Love Life with Rori Raye.

Think of words and language in relationships … as paint.

Last video, we talked about the emotion behind the words that you use being like a brush.

Today, we’re going to talk about the material of the paint.

Then we’ll talk about water and start putting them all together for you.

So, what is paint?

It’s made up of minerals and flowers and tea, whatever you want to use as a paint.

You can use ink.

Many people use latex paint.

There’s all kinds of ways to make paint.

What is distinct about watercolor paint is that it’s made to be transparent, completely transparent, which is different than all other media.

You can’t make acrylics act like watercolor, even if you put a lot of water in them.

Watercolor paint is made to be transparent so that, if I were to put down 15 layers of paint, after each one dried, I would still be able to see the paper.

I would still get the reflection of light from the white paper through all those layers of paint.

That is one thing that makes watercolor so unique.

Think about this: no matter how many layers of paint you put on yourself, no matter how many thoughts you think, no matter what you’re going through, no matter what is happening environmentally that’s triggering you, you are still you in there.

You can still be felt, no matter how much you are blocking the expression of yourself.

That’s kind of what this series is all about: some fresh ways to consider melting and softening those blocks and allowing the you that is the paper to shine through.

We’ll talk about that more when we talk about paper.

So paint, what do watercolor paints come in?

Watercolor paints come in tubes.

They come in little pans of hard color.

Everybody starts with the pans because they’re inexpensive, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they are transparent.

The quality of the paints is something that, as you spend more, you can discover for yourself.

They do different things.

If you go to Blick, which is like Disneyland for artists, you will discover so many paints, so many brands.

You’ll see Grumbacher and Winsor Newton and DaVinci and all kinds of paints that have been around for a long time.

What is happening now is the brand of the moment is made by Daniel Smith.

Why are Daniel Smith colors so much in vogue now?

Because the Daniel Smith company has figured out how to make paints that aren’t just red or just green.

When you put them on the paper with water, they turn many colors.

Some of his paints, like undersea green, start as green, then they turn pink and maybe blue.

So, his paints add an extra level of unpredictability to the unpredictability of watercolor, and a lot of artists are having a super fun time with them.

I am.

They have iridescent ones, electric ones.

He also has things you can put on the paper, like black or blue that actually are paper, not paint; they actually are paper pulp, so you can paint over them in a transparent way with his colors.

However, I may be excited, ready to try all the weird Daniel Smith colors, but sometimes I get frustrated with those.


Because I really just want to put red on the paper, and I want to make my own orange.

I don’t want to buy somebody else’s mixed orange.

You ever feel that way when you’re talking to somebody?

I just want to be plain and simple and straight; I want to be working with the cards I’m familiar with, with straight primaries that I can mix up and make my own.

I don’t want to use somebody else’s exotic creation, those clever, high-end words, pc words when I’m really feeling something strongly.

So, you have a choice:

You can start with a pan of a lot of different colors, or you can start with red, blue, and yellow.

However, even with red blue and yellow, there is a lot of variety.

I’ll give you some of my recommendations for paints that you want.

You want a blue, and you don’t just want one blue.

Everybody uses ultramarine blue, French ultramarine blue.

It is very dark, very strong.

It stays on the paper.

You can use it almost as a black because it’s so deep and almost opaque (although it’s not).

And, if you mix it with burnt umber, you get black.

Now, there are lots of ways to mix black.

You could just mix blue, red, and yellow, and you’ll get black.

Some watercolor artists use black straight from the tube, but most of us like mixed up blacks and mix up grays, all different kinds.

So, you’re going to want those two colors for sure — ultramarine blue and burnt umber, because that’s how you’re going to get a dark.

Then, everybody wants a sky blue, right?

Sky blue is going to be a cerulean blue or a cobalt blue.

One of my favorite colors is cerulean blue.

I also love Mayan blue genuine, by Daniel Smith.

I just fell in love with it.

You’re going to fall in love with your own colors.

I also fell in love with a yellow, called aureolin,

It’s not a cadmium yellow, it’s a very light yellow.

It may not be good for you as your first tube because it doesn’t really give you the yellow experience.

You might want to get a cadmium yellow medium.

Then, you want to get a red.

You can get a crimson, which would be an alizarin crimson.

That’s a great color, and it is what we call a cool red because it goes over into blue a little bit.

You can get a cadmium red, or a version of cadmium red.

Windsor red is one of my very, very favorites.

It’s just feels red, like a nice red.

And when you mix it with the yellow, it turns into a nice orange.

The only color that doesn’t seem to really mix up great, as far as I’m concerned, is green.

So, I suggest you get a green.

You can get a sap green; that’s kind of standard.

It gives you a bright kind of a tree green, and if you want to get very tricky, there’s no end to greens that you can find.

But I would say, get those.

Get yourself crimson red, a cobalt or a cerulean blue, and French ultramarine, cadmium yellow, burnt umber, and a green, and you’ll have something to start with, and then just pick whatever appeals to you that you can afford.

All right, so how do we put colors down?

How do we start?

Well, there are lots of ways.

Everybody likes to do it differently.

These double bowls are great.

If you want to do a whole big blue section, cover this in blue, then you’re going to want to make a big mess of blue with a lot of water in it so that you don’t have to keep mixing, and you want to put the big brush in there and get it all over the place.

So, you may want a bigger bowl than this, but these are nice bowls for several colors.

You want to mix a bunch of colors at once that you might be interested in using so that you don’t have to stop in the middle, you just want to keep going.

Then there is a palette, which is really useful for instinctive work.

These days a lot of us watercolor painters who are into a fast and loose style, which means I don’t care about the details so much but just want to express myself on the page and let the details of the face or the landscape emerge from the painting, do not like to draw so much beforehand.

I like to draw and I like to make drawings for their own sake, but, when painting, I would rather just paint out the shapes.

I can show you some of my paintings where I have done a lot of drawing beforehand and some where I have just let the paint do the job.

So, this is my messy palette, and there’s no need to clean it up because I’ve got colors in there that are pretty clear.

And, when a watercolor paint dries out, just put water in it again.

I like to see all the different greens.

I like to mix them up.

I like to see what’s going on.

I like to have my blues here.

I like to mix reds in here.

You can see something really shiny here … that’s a Daniel Smith copper.

And I like to mix things up.


Because that’s who I am.

I’m a messy thought person. 

I’m a person who loves to be in chaos.

To me, that is the utter feminine energy space.

Organizing paints seems to me to be in the exact opposite energy.

I want to grab a brush, put a lot of water in it, pick the first color that appeals to me, that feels red, let’s say, put it down on something, and then, if I want to mix another color, I’ll put that in there, but most of the time I want to use colors straight and let them mix on the paper with the water.

Messy is good for me.

I can identify my red spots; I can identify what I like, so I keep emotionally moving through it.

Then there is another way to put paint down that is very, very popular.

That’s a big mail tray.

So, I would just put red, blue, yellow in there, and then I just dump the water in there with my brush and start mixing around.

The only reason I don’t use the mail tray very much, and I use the palette more, is because the palette is small.

The mail tray takes up so much room that I would need to be at a big studio table.

And, even then, I like to stay in a small space, so I don’t use these very much.

What I do is I have a whole bunch of brushes in front of me so that I can pick up whatever brush I want to use.

I have my water, which is always clean.

As soon as it turns colors, I dump it in the kitchen sink and clean it up, because that is the most important thing for me, this water.

Sometimes, I’ll put some water into one of these bowls, mix some paint in it, and throw it at the paper, and then start working from there.

There’s no end to the creativity of expression that you can develop, but we want to start sort of from your options here.

So, I use something small.

If I paint outside, I want to be able to take something small.

I bring my brushes, sometimes a pencil; I have this water and I can stay in a little space that I have.

It works for me.

And what I’m interested in is: what works for you?

If you’re going to find out what works for you in using these paints:

Without using your brain, just through experimenting, what about paint feels like words to you?

That’s the whole point: what feels like words?

Does red have a feeling for you?

Does it make you feel bright and sparkly and strong?

Does blue make you feel moody and kind of dark-edged and teary?

What if you want to use a black?

You buy black and get black on there.

What does that feel like to you?

And if you want to feel bright?

White’s not a color that you could put on there, like it can be with oil.

White is the paper.

So, what does it feel like to leave pieces of paper open and let that be your white?

What does yellow feel like to you?

What do you like to use?

I’m going to clean this up and set up some paints, and then I’ll start showing some paints with different brushes to you and see what they feel like, mixing them with water.

I want you to start thinking about the words as they are to you.

What do you feel like using?

All you need to do is walk around, see what’s going on in your brain, see what you want say to people about the day.

Do you just automatically say: “Oh yeah, it’s fine. It’s nice. It’s good. It’s okay.”

Does that feel expressive enough to you or would you like to make it a color that is: “Ooh, I felt all kind of sparkly and fresh today. It felt like water on the branches.”

In other words, do you want to be more inventive with your words so that they suit your emotions more, so that they express the emotions more?

Have fun.

This assignment is to get a few paints, some inexpensive ways to put the paints on a piece of plastic so that you can mush around with them, get yourself some water, and just start seeing what the paint color means to you, what it does for you.

All right.

We’ll start working on the paper next time.

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Rori Raye