Introducing a sparkly new art supply: Metallic watercolours
by Art Materials on Oct 25, 2022
According to William Shakespeare, ‘All that glitters is not gold’. The English playwright had clearly never encountered the beauty of metallic watercolours. Although not available in the early 17th century, the highlights and shimmering effects of Winsor & Newton’s Cotman 21st century range of metallic art supplies can transform a bland, or otherwise boring painting into a sparkly accent or magical sight for the eyes.
If you’ve already fallen in love with the delicate hues and gently layered washes of watercolours, then these metallic watercolours are an obvious addition to your art supplies. But how can you best make use of these newfound shiny paints without putting off your viewers with blingy, overdone artworks?
Here are 3 pointers to get your metallic watercolour journey started on the right track:
#1 Metallic paint is best paired with black paper
White watercolour paper, while it has many positive attributes, is not the best surface to bring out the shine of metallic watercolour paints.
It works best to pair the range of shimmery metallic watercolours - supplied by Winsor & Newton - with black watercolour paper. Whether you choose to go with the conventional silver or gold or opt to highlight a less conventional metallic colour like red copper metallic paint in your artwork, the vast array of 48 colours means you can use this paint to give almost any colour a bit of extra sparkle.
If you do decide to use white paper, it’s best to apply the metallic watercolour paints to the darker areas of the painting. In this way, the shimmer of these paints will better contrast against the white background.
And when you catch these metallic paints in the right light, they will be sure to wow you with their pop and shine.
Top tip: Keep stepping back to observe the overall painting before adding more metallic colours to avoid overdoing it.
#2 Use synthetic brushes with metallic paints
Metallic watercolour paint contains aluminium, mica or powdered pearls in order to create a glossy effect. While this is a positive for your painting, it is a negative for your brushes.
These particles could end up getting stuck in natural brushes. Rather opt to use a synthetic brush with these paints to avoid destroying your best brushes.
We also advise keeping a spray bottle filled with water on-hand to wet the brushes before applying paint. This makes it easier for the metallic colours to pick up the paint.
Top tip: Add the metallic watercolours near the end of the painting process to avoid covering up the sparkle.
#3 Use metallic watercolours sparingly
There’s nothing worse than viewing a kitsch artwork that has been over bedazzled with shimmery, glossy effects. ‘Less is more’ is definitely the principle to follow when it comes to metallic paints. (We think Gustav Klimt would agree).
A painting can easily lose its ‘sparkle’ when overwhelmed with too many shiny elements.
Instead, choose to use just enough metallic watercolours to catch the eye of the beholder or highlight the artwork’s focal point without overdoing it.
Elect to take a balanced and measured approach to the application of metallic colours to avoid a flashy display.
Top top: Since shimmering colours can only be observed using the naked eye, you should not advertise or aim to display these types of paintings online, where the subtle effects of metallic watercolours cannot be detected.
A camera cannot begin to capture the full effect of these paint supplies, which also means they cannot be replicated digitally - all the more reason to appreciate them in-person.