Skip to main content

Is a photo altered with a filter a watercolor painting?

With today's photo applications sometimes people think if they use a watercolor filter to transform a photo, it's now a watercolor, In my opinion that's not true. It's still a digital image of a photograph that has been altered and should not be submitted into shows or sold as a watercolor painting. A watercolor painting requires skill and the use of the medium, not just a push of a button.


  1. Of course I understand, and stand, behind your comments, but it shocks me that others would think otherwise. Have you actually run into this yourself, Birgit??

    1. Hi Helen, yes, what brought this to my attention was that in one of my FB groups, someone who joined wanted to post what they called their first "watercolor painting" it was a digitally filtered photo. When I asked what materials they used, there was no response. Since then I have heard how some people are trying to get these altered images into shows or are even trying to sell and pass them off as watercolor paintings, so just had to mention this and bring some light to it.

  2. Shedding light is important. Hopefully it's a matter of education (or lack thereof), and not a matter of outright deceit. :( Today's judges have a whole world of new challenges before them.

    1. I really didn't think too much about it until - I have heard a few people saying that they were doing watercolors and what they were really doing was just playing with filters.

      I first thought, no they can't really be serious, it's an app! But then again I thought if we just look at how many masters crafts people have lost their jobs due to progress, machines and technology, I thought, mmm, maybe people, (especially young people) might not really know that there IS a difference.

    2. As far as judging, I'm sure a well seasoned professional judge will be able to tell the difference. It might be a little harder on a smaller scale show (but I'm pretty sure they will be able to tell too) What I have seen even in some international shows, is taking a photograph, altering it in an app or filter, then painting the digitized image. I have even seen that they can win awards, to me it's a little like paint by number. The spaces are broken down to such a small size, that all they need is to be filled in. - I not sure what to make of that, and where it really stands in the watercolor world.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Warm & Cool Colors

Have you ever wondered about warm and cool colors and whats the difference. Warm color appear to move forward while cooler colors recede into the background. That's why when painting a landscape I prefer to use warm colors in the foreground then move to cooler colors and lighter values (meaning more water) in the background. If I was working on a floral I prefer to use warm or even a mix of color in the flower then use cooler colors in the shadows to give depth to my subject. 

Warm Colors Cadmium Yellow Pale, New Gamboge, Cadmium Yellow, Winsor Yellow Deep, Indian Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Cadmium Orange, Winsor Orange, Winsor Orange (Red Shade). Cadmium Scarlet, Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Red, Winsor Red, Rose DorĂ©, Quinacridone Red, Opera Rose, Quinacridone Magenta, Permanent Magenta, Cobalt Violet, Permanent Mauve, Winsor Violet (Dioxazine), Cobalt Blue Deep, French Ultramarine, Ultramarine, (Green Shade), Winsor Blue (Red Shade), Cerulean Blue (Red Shade), Winsor Green (Yellow Sha…

Tips: Tools to Apply Masking Fluid

Most often people will use an old brush, incredible nib or Masquepen but depending on the flow, coverage and detail you want. There are a couple of other things you can try.
Lets say you want a nice continual flow of fluid to leave detail areas white. Consider an embossing tool (used for paper, foil, clay etc) or a calligraphy pen, both feel good in your hand and hold a nice amount of fluid. The flow of masking or drawing gum can also depend on the brand you use. Personally I like Pebeo drawing gum because it's thinner and applies easily.
Examples from students
 When signing paintings with a dark backgrounds Karen Richards like to use a Calligraphy pen to her apply masking. Once the composition is created she applies a light wash, lets it dry then signs her name. She will then continue with the painting then when done remove the masking to reveal her signature.
Karen Richards
Calligraphy pen
Pebeo Drawing gum
Revealed signature --- To get basically the same results Linda likes to use an e…

Glazing (layering) in watercolor

Glazing is a term for layering or stacking color, for instance think of different sheets of colored glass or tissue paper one stacked on top of the other. You are able to see through the transparent layers to the ones below, glazing in watercolor is the same idea but instead using thin washes of transparent color. For the cleanest color mixing and purest glazes use only the most transparent color. The reason is these colors allow light to pass through and reflect off of the papers surface leaving beautiful jewel-like effects.
Here are only a few of the transparent colors you may want to consider, New Gamboge, Indian Yellow, Winsor Red, Alizarin Crimson, Carmine, Permanent Rose, Quinacridone Magenta, Winsor Violet (Dioxazine), Indanthrene Blue, French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Antwerp Blue, Prussian Blue, Viridian, Winsor Green (Yellow Shade), Perylene Green, Hooker’s Green, Permanent Sap Green among others.
More opaque the colors have a greater coverage and are useful to tone down color…