View Full Version : White Paint

10-31-2001, 07:36 PM
I was just wondering how many of you here use white paint in your watercolours, either for mixing with other colours or for highlights??? I don't use it myself, but know of some great artists that do. What is your opinion of using white paint in a watercolour??.

10-31-2001, 07:48 PM
Taghera, The use of white paint violates the principles of watercolour -- it is a pigmented paint. When you use white paint with watercolours, imo, you are following the principle of oils.

You guessed it -- I don't use white paint and I don't use black either.

Here's the soap box for the next speaker -- Thank-You,

10-31-2001, 08:05 PM
If it's good enough for John Singer Sargent, it's good enough for me! I don't use it a lot (except in gouache paintings), but now and then.


Rich Williams
10-31-2001, 08:23 PM
I do not even have a tube of black or white. The paper is the white and you can mix to as dark as you want to go.
I have a friend who uses white pastel on watercolors if he needs a hint of white over a color. Another that uses white gel pens.
I have yet to use either and do not expect to any time this century.

10-31-2001, 08:31 PM
Happy All Hallow Even aka All Saints' Eve aka Halloween,

As one member said, "...I don't use it a lot... (and) ...now and then..."

Your Apology Is Accepted

:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

10-31-2001, 09:04 PM
I use white all the time,I know it's against the purists,but one of the greatest watercolourists of all time TURNER used loads of white in his paintings,then I don't feel so bad,I know that you are a Constable fan,but did he use white,I don't know
I didn't know until recently that Constable and Turner were at the Royal Academy at the same time,I think Turner was a couple of years older than Constable ,there is no record of them ever speaking to each other,and as Turner's star was in the ascendancy at the time he may not have known of Constable's presence,I do think that John Constable was not given the recognition his genius was merited,in his lifetime,whereas William Mallord Joseph Turner went on to do royal commissions,but if Turner used a lot of white it's good enough for me.
I don't think I'm clever enough to do without my whites,but I'm sure if Acrylics had been around the masters we are talking about would have used them----------Alan

10-31-2001, 09:08 PM
PS the only one that could beat Turner would be Canaletto

10-31-2001, 09:11 PM
Rich are you talking this century or the next bearing in mind this one's only starting

Rich Williams
10-31-2001, 09:20 PM
This century 2001 - 2099 and on. I dont have it myself but its a personal prefrence. :D When I said never I was talking about the paint. I might try the pastel if I was doing water spraying up from horses running in water.

10-31-2001, 09:25 PM
Oh ok now I understand

Rich Williams
10-31-2001, 09:34 PM
You might want to go to www.watercolorsbyflatt.com and if you go to the prints you will see what I mean by pastel for flying water. That is what he used here and in his paintings.

10-31-2001, 09:36 PM
Never did for the first 6-8 years I painted in watercolor.....was told it was NOT DONE.

Every once in a while now, I reach for the white gouache to hi-light a tiny spot......

but still, you cannot enter a piece in the watercolor society exhibit here if you use white......so there J S Sargeant

whatever works, for each, I think;)


10-31-2001, 09:40 PM
Sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. I agree though that the use of white indicates a lack of planning. I prefer to use the white of the paper. HOWEVER, I have used it for some variations of pink. Not often.

11-01-2001, 12:20 AM
I don't use either white or black. I think it is quite "legitimate" to use them, but I like the challenge of doing without. However, I have been known to us a white gel pen when a very fine line was needed :)

11-01-2001, 01:45 AM
I've always been a purist , I never use white.
If I need a fine line then I apply masking fluid with a draughtsmans pen,


11-01-2001, 04:24 AM
I dont use white either because it is opaque and defeats the purpose.
Constable and Turner agrred that Tom Girton who died young was better than either of them and they would be in the shade if he had lived.
Billyg:D :angel:

11-01-2001, 04:41 AM
Hi Hugh,I did abig water/colour painting called the yellow lamp,every-one begged me to enter it in this big exhibition ,(the one I just won in) in the Water/colour Section well it got rejected to to my big disappointment ,why because I mixed the white with transparrent yellow to get the bright yellow wattle brush flower which I dropped in with an eye dropper flicking it etc.,,They thought I used gouache.So needless to say I dont use it now.yet it says its Taitanium white water colour .The judges need to be educated on it I reckon.Fay

11-01-2001, 05:28 AM
I don't understand why people are against some of the modern mediums,I painted a couple seascapes a while back,using acrylics as you would use watercolours,building up thin layers,and when it was finished I took it to the framers and he was convinced it was a water colour.
As I said earlier I don't think I'm clever enough not to use whites,but surely it's the finished painting that counts and if it makes the artist,and the viewer happy there can't be much wrong with it,I'll bet some of the old masters would have jumped at the chance to use gel pens or some of the paints we have got today--------Alan

11-01-2001, 10:50 AM
I've never touched the stuff either... not black or white. I'm not 'good enough' to go without it either, but I'm working on it and I will never get good enough if I don't continuously try. But, I enjoy the challenge & the outcome of the purist style. Otherwise I wouldn't hesitate to use it.
Don't mask either ... hate the stuff. But, that's something I need to start practicing too. For now, shiny postcards used as a shield are just fine... enough. lol.

Rich, is the pastel acceptable in shows?

11-01-2001, 10:54 AM


Rich Williams
11-01-2001, 11:37 AM
I wondered that myself but when I was talking to Graham he said that he has had no problems. Pastel is water soluable and washes off with water so he sees no problem. I think you would have to check with your local museaum for their feelings on it.

A question for a forum?

11-02-2001, 08:38 AM
Why make things hard for yourself?
Of course I use white paint!

I use white guache to recover highlights and a white gel pen for fine lines. I can't get on with a scalpel blade for creating highlights - it ruins the paper.

I suppose you purists never use frisket or masking fluid?


11-02-2001, 09:13 AM
I use white for mixing.:)

11-02-2001, 10:39 AM
Good man Doug-------Alan
PS I was beginning to think I would need to leave this forum,being the only one to use white

11-02-2001, 05:05 PM
I think its a case of..............
Some do, some dont
Some will, some wont

As I said I don't use white myself just masking fluid, but, everyone to their own as it should be.
Thanks for your responces everyone. :clap:

11-03-2001, 07:31 AM
I never use it to mix but I may use it to do little highlights. That's all folks...


11-05-2001, 03:00 PM
Originally posted by Javier
As one member said, "...I don't use it a lot... (and) ...now and then..."

Your Apology Is Accepted

:evil: :evil: :evil: :evil: :evil:

Oh, Javier, thank you so much for your kind acceptance of my "apology"! And at this time I would also like to apologize on behalf of John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and JMW Turner for using white (and even black!) in their paintings. Forgive them, for they know not what they did! Too bad they didn't have any books that told them they should NEVER do that! Think how much improved their pitiful paintings might have been had they followed THE RULES! ;)

11-06-2001, 01:21 AM
I have only been painting 3 years but I try not to use white. On occasion I have though for some highlight. I try to use the white of the paper or scratch out a highlight if it's not too big.

11-09-2001, 06:52 PM
I have to admit that I have a tube of white and black in my kit, but both are unused. I like the challenge of using the paper for the whites, but have not learned enough to mix dark enough colours to satisfy me. it will come with practice i suppose.

11-09-2001, 09:53 PM
I recently attended a workshop lead by a member of the National Watercolor Society. I posed this question to him. He was unware that any works would be uneligible due to this. He uses Black quite often. I don't think he used white with frerquency. His opinion is that art should not have limitations.

I see both schools of thoughts, but tend to agree that we should not limit ourselves. Maybe the real question is in how its used...
is it a crutch or an augmentation of your vision.

11-09-2001, 11:09 PM
Touchy subject. I never was inclined to use white pigment - now I am scared to offend the purists

11-09-2001, 11:13 PM
Originally posted by wilkinsonart
Touchy subject. I never was inclined to use white pigment - now I am scared to offend the purists

:D :D :D :D :D :evil: :evil:

11-10-2001, 08:18 AM
I never use white paint myself.(or black either). Please understand that to really express your creativity and experiment I feel it's important to have the freedom of using any thing you feel like using. I personally don't like the "feel" of the white watercolor paint; that's why I don't use it ...it is just a personal preference.
I saw recently at a major watercolor exhibit a painting made 100% with acrylics. You first have to prove you can paint with watercolors "the purist way" for you to become a member then... you gain the freedom to show with mixed media and/or other water soluble medium.


11-10-2001, 08:31 AM
You got everyone going here Hugh:D

To each his own, I appreciate work w/ and w/ out white

Its fun to try to save them

I suppose societies have to have their rules, too. Don't know that they would be able to tell Homer he can't play, tho. (Some of the rules do sound a little elitist)

One of those art questions that perplexes and will have a myriad of opinions....If it works, do it:D :D ...Karen

11-17-2001, 05:34 PM

I have unopened tubes of Chinese White and Ivory Black (anyone want them?). I have used white goache for highlights but only occasionally , I don't want to get into bad habits. Purists would argue that using masking fluid is against the rules but I also do this too. I did buy an Ivory Black watercolour pencil very recently but have yet to use it in anger.