Watercolour Glossary

This glossary is a work in progress. I will be adding to it as we go through the course and will release a PDF file at the end.



Backruns / Blossoms
Occur when water (or a wash) is added to an existing damp area. The water and/or pigment travel through the paper fibres in the damp area causing cauliflower-like patterns. Backruns can also be created by a bead in a watery wash (refer to Lesson 1 Demo 1 – Quinacridone Rose sample). Some pigments are more prone to backruns than others.
Also called blossoms, blooms or cauliflowers.


Bead of water
A drop of water that forms at the end of a stroke. Refer to Lesson 1 Theory 2 for more details


The technique of applying a wet paint over existing dried washes. Glazing often refers to the layering of numerous transparent washes. See also Wet on dry which is a more generic term.


Texture caused by a separation of pigments. To increase granulation add more water to your mix, or drop paint into a damp area on the page. Refer Intro Lesson 3.


Juicy washes
Washes with a generous load of pigment for the amount of water. Refer to Lesson 1 Theory 3 (this is a Liz term).


Loading the brush
Filling your brush with as much watercolour as possible by holding your brush in the mix well so that maximum water and pigment soak into the body of the brush


Pasty washes
Washes with a lot of pigment and little water.  Refer to Lesson 1 Theory 3 (this is a Liz term).


A particle that creates colour. Every pigment has different characteristic – size, weight, transparency/opacity, staining, granulating etc. They can be natural (such as earth pigments) or synthetic (eg. Quinacridone)


Watercolour paint diluted with water. Can be either Watery, Juicy or Pasty.


Wet in wet
The technique of applying a wet wash into an area on the page with is wet or damp.


Wet on dry
The technique of applying a wet wash over existing dried paint. See also glazing which implies thin layers of transparent washes.


Watery washes
Washes with a lot of water for the amount of pigment. The easiest way to get a vibrant watery wash is to create a juicy mix first and then add water. Refer to Lesson 1 Theory 3 and Lesson 2 Theory 1 (this is a Liz term).

Any terms that are missing? Please leave a comment below.


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