View Full Version : Gum arabic: what is it good for?

09-10-2000, 01:54 PM
Can anyone please tell me what gum arabic is good for in watercolors? I know it's supposed to increase brilliancy, gloss and transparency but I'd like to hear from those who actually used it. Also is it of any help when painting wet on wet and if so how much of it should I add to the color? Thanks in advance,


09-10-2000, 02:05 PM
Gum Arabic produces more granulation of the pigment. It also helps with the bleeding problem we sometimes get in watercolor. One thing bad about gum arabic is that it can affect the colors. That is because it varies in color itself. I have never used it in watercolors, but have seen people who do. I use it in printmaking, and as an agent for transfering my sketches from paper onto copper plates.


09-14-2000, 06:39 AM
As you say Irina, it does all those things and its already the binder in you watercolour. Now go and do us a nice painting of Upsala Castle. I would like to see it again.Last year would have been fifty years sinceI performed for Gt Britain at the LINGIAD. Stayed at a school just outside Stockholm and performed at the Kungshallen?.
Lovely country.

09-14-2000, 10:53 AM
Sass and Billyg, thank you for your responses. As a beginner I constantly come across new media to experiment with.

Billyg, Uppsala Castle is indeed a perfect object for painting, I will consider your advice. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif I do like Sweden, too. (My home country is Russia, though.) One of the challenges for me now is to find the right mixture for the color they call here "Falu red" (most of teh Swedish houses in the country side are traditionally "Falu red" (reddish brown). I believe U.Castle is also somewhat F. red. Do you have any hints?
Thanks again for your answers,
Happy painting,


09-14-2000, 02:41 PM
Victoria, yes, gum arabic is the binder, but it is already mixed with the pigment so you get what you see. Gum arabic is harvested at different times of the year, and these seasons affect the overall color of the gum arabic itself. I have used it in printmaking for a very long time, and it can indeed change colors somewhat depending on what color the batch is that you get at the time.


09-14-2000, 05:12 PM
Thanks for the explanation, Sass. So, can you tell by looking at the plain gum arabic in the bottle whether it's going to affect your color? Does it have to be clear?

09-14-2000, 05:37 PM
I've used gum arabic to in small areas to enhance the brillancy. You only need a small dab most of the time. I'ved used it in dog portraits to give the nose a wet look. Use an eye dropper to put a little bit out and you can either mix with your paint or use it like a glaze over the paint. Windsor Newton has a gum arabic specifically for use with watercolor and another for acrylics.

09-15-2000, 12:26 AM
I believe my Winsor-Newton paint tubes all say that gum arabic is the "vehicle." I doubt they'd make their paints with gum arabic if it would affect the colors.

09-16-2000, 12:11 AM
For the shine on dogs noses - now that's a good tip - thanks