Glossary of Watercolor Terms

Complementary Colors – two colors that are on opposite sides of the colors (i.e. red/green, blue/orange or yellow/purple). When complementary colors are mixed they cancel each other out, producing a black or gray tone. When painted side by side, complementary colors make each other visually brighter.

Layering – putting down one wash of color, then putting another wash of color over top. This can be used to build up color intensity of value or to let the color mix on the paper,

Muted Color – the opposite of vivid color. Mute colors by adding black, white or complementary colors to make them grayer or less saturated.

Scraping – using a flat, firm object to scrape color off or onto watercolor paper to create unique effects.

Scumbling – watercolor technique of loosely rubbing the side of a brush across the top of the paper surface to apply almost dry color to hit a few areas on the paper, but also allows the underlying paper or color to show through in areas.

Watercolor Block – several sheets of watercolor paper all one size that are glued around three edges to form a block. You can paint on the paper while it’s on the block or remove the piece for painting.