Paper as Moon

Attar of Rose, Suzanne McDermott, Watercolor

If I had a nickel for every time I've said, "In watercolor, white is the absence of all color. Black is the presence of all color."...
So many students think that they can paint with watercolor on any old kind of paper. This drives me (relatively) crazy. Another point I often find myself repeating is that the medium of watercolor is not just the pigment and binder in the tube or in a cake. I even go over this (briefly) in my signature lecture on a Brief History of Watercolor. The medium includes the paper (if that's the surface of choice).
In transparent watercolor, white is the white of the paper. Personally, I like a clean, bright white paper (rather than cream) because I prefer clear, bright color. When I started writing this post, I was thinking of the paper as sun. But after further...reflection, I realized that the sun is the sun and the paper acts like the moon, reflecting the sun's light back through the pigment, projecting onto our retinas and up through our optic nerve into our brainy brain so often compromised with critical and wounded emotions attached to all those thoughts tumbling out of our incessant streams of consciousness. Or unconsciousness as the case may be.
Anyway, I like my white. It shows off all the other colors so nicely and the strokes and surprises as well.

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