Watercolor or watercolour, also aquarelle, a diminutive of the Latin for water, is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. Watercolor refers to both the medium and the resulting artwork. The traditional and most common support material to which the paint is applied for watercolor paintings is paper. Other supports include papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum, leather, fabric, wood and canvas. Watercolor paper is often made entirely or partially with cotton, which gives a good texture and minimizes distortion when wet. Watercolors are usually translucent, and appear luminous because the pigments are laid down in a pure form with few fillers obscuring the pigment colors. Watercolors can also be made opaque by adding Chinese white.
In East Asia, watercolor painting with inks is referred to as brush painting or scroll painting. In Chinese, Korean and Japanese painting it has been the dominant medium, often in monochrome black or browns.India, Ethiopia and other countries have long watercolor painting traditions as well. Fingerpainting with watercolor paints originated in mainland China.
Watercolor painting also became popular in the United States during the 19th century; outstanding early practitioners included John James Audubon, as well as early Hudson River School painters such as William H. Bartlett and George Harvey. By mid-century, the influence of John Ruskin led to increasing interest in watercolors, particularly the use of a detailed "Ruskinian" style by such artists as John W. Hill Henry, William Trost Richards, Roderick Newman, and Fidelia Bridges. The American Society of Painters in Watercolor (now the American Watercolor Society) was founded in 1866. Late-19th-century American exponents of the medium included Thomas Moran, Thomas Eakins, John LaFarge, John Singer Sargent, Childe Hassam, and, preeminently, Winslow Homer.
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