Watercolour painting is an ancient medium and provides endless possibilities. The main translucent characteristic of watercolour paints enables it to be applied in layers (or washes) of highly translucent pigment. Various techniques are available to watercolour painters: 'Wet in wet' where the paper is worked when fairly wet, dropping colour into moistened areas of the paper, which often produces delightful and sometimes unexpected results.
Dry brush techniques, as used by botanical illustrators for instance, are more akin to drawing, produce very fine detail and can still be used in translucent layers of colour to produce various effects.
Watercolor paint consists of four principal ingredients: pigments, a binder (such as gum arabic) to hold the pigment in suspension and fix the pigment to the painting surface, preservative - to alter the viscosity, durability or color of the pigment and vehicle mixture, and solvent - the substance used to thin or dilute the paint for application and that evaporates when the paint hardens or dries.
The translucent qualities of the medium and the colour of the paper showing through (or left unpainted) are often utilised in watercolour painting.