Photomicrograph: Transparent watercolor wash

Watercolor consists of colored pigments suspended in a liquid solution of water and gum arabic, obtained from the acacia tree. The wash is absorbed as it is brushed across paper, with the pigments settling onto the surface. When dry, a colorless layer of gum remains, binding pigment particles to paper fibers. Light reflecting off the white paper travels through the transparent pigment layer to the viewer’s eye, producing brilliant color.

Photomicrograph of Weary, illustrating the transparency of a watercolor wash over white paper fibers. Original magnification 8x.