Monday, February 23, 2009

Gum Arabic in Watercolor Paint

Great website - thank you for all the great tips. Please tell us the proper use of gum arabic. When do you use it and how much do you use. Thank you. Greg

Gum arabic is a water soluble binder made from the sap of the acacia trees. It's most commonly used in the manufacturing of artist's quality watercolor and gouache paints as well as pastels.
As a binder it helps the watercolor pigments stick to the watercolor paper. However it can be dissolved again in water, even after it has completely dried. This is why watercolors can be rewet after they have dried on the palette, or can be lifted from the paper when they are rewet.

Some artists add extra gum arabic to their watercolor paint to increase the body and flow of the paint. It is also used to add a glossy look to the paint, but you must be careful not to add too much as the paint may become brittle and may flake off.
In my watercolor experience I've found if I stick with professional quality brands of watercolor paints I don't need to make any adjustments to their formulas. The saying "if it ain't broke don't fix it!" applies.
I have added a few drops of gum arabic along with several drops of distilled water to rejuvenate the contents of a tube of rock hard dried watercolor paint. How much gum arabic do you use? I've read 3:1 or 4:1 ratio is a good formula. (Three or four drops of water to one drop of gum arabic.)

I hope that answers your question! Thanks for asking!

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