Art History: Watercolor

February 21, 2012

Earlier today I posted a tutorial on Spit Shading and explained the principle behind what I do and what most spit shaders do. Well, it left me wondering a bit about the history of watercolor in general. So, here it goes.

Once again I can say that Cavemen invented it and it be true. Truly these guys were rocket scientists and invented everything... except housing, as they lived in caves, such as shame. But, I'm going to start from about the middle ages in Europe for the most part because that's where we get our current interpretation of what watercolor painting is all about.

Apparently one of the earliest proponents of this form of art was Albrecht Dürer... What you don't know who he is??? Of course you do... When he painted a self portrait of himself like 500 years ago he made himself look just like Jesus. So, you all know him quite well... some may even worship him -- as a painter a mean, not a false idol. Maybe both.

Albrecht Dürer

But, even his Jesus-like appearance wasn't enough to get the medium off to a good start. Most artists just used watercolor as essentially studies, or sketches, or some merely as cartoons... how demeaning to a Jesus-like fellow. It truly wasn't much of an appreciated art form. Some might say that even today. I wouldn't because I think it's awesome. But you know how some people are always trying to make things less cool looking because they don't do them.

Well it took a few hundred years, well into the 19th century before anyone ever cared much to treat it as a true art form, despite the fact that many great pieces had been created since renaissance times.

But, supported by my tutorial, it really didn't get the widespread attention that it deserved until spit shaders came along and started using the art form as medium in which to tattoo everyone they saw. And there you have it... almost all tattoos, arguably the most widespread art form, originate from watercolor art. Truly one of the greatest mediums.



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