This is a photograph of one of my prototype Watercolour Chargers. Don't worry, I'm not expecting you to make anything quite as complex as this. I have designed another version which will work just as well as this that should take less than an hour to make.
What is the Watercolour Charger?
The Watercolour Charger is a simple device that provides the user with far greater control of the watercolour medium than is currently possible.
It provides a constant supply of clean water that is instantly replenished from a reservoir. The water is made available on a narrow capillary cradle (the Charging Cradle) that is designed so any part of a brush can be charged with water. Imagine a thin ribbon of water floating in mid-air, the brush is charged with this water in the horizontal plane.
By monitoring how the belly and the tip of the brush swells and shines, the user can gauge how much water the brush is absorbing. You can't do this by immersing the brush using the normal dipping method. This can greatly help in the painting process. How can you expect to control watercolour on the paper, if you can't control it on the brush first?
A Charger will not necessarily make you a better artist, but a more competent handler of the medium. If you don't need to overcome problems, the painting process will be more fluid. Your paintings will benefit and the watercolour painting experience will be a more enjoyable and satisfying creative endeavour.
To get the best results from the Charger it will take a little practice but the learning curve is steep.
It is not intended to be a tool which you would use for all of your painting. Maybe it is just something you would want to use when you paint the smaller details. I have found mine to be invaluable and it's always on my worktable ready for use.
How is it used?
To understand this you need to know what the various parts of the brush are called.
traditionally, the brush tip and belly is dipped into the medium and applied to the paper. A problem with that is this. Consider you are painting a shape and you arrive at a point where you may want to blend the shape into either the white of the paper or a previously applied area of colour. The paint in the brush is being used up. If you dipped the brush into water to continue painting, the remaining paint in the brush would be pushed up to the root and belly of the brush by capillary action, you would then be painting with a more diluted paint and create a step in the tone of the colour.
To counter this problem we can now charge water into the root of the brush. Then, when you continue to paint, the colour difference at the tip of the brush is largely unaltered and the water will dilute the paint at a more gradual rate. By painting and root charging the brush like this, you will achieve a superior gradation or blend than was previously possible. In essence, having more control is all about understanding just a little about the hydro-dynamics of the brush and having the ability to use it to our advantage. In my experiments, I found that whenever I would have normally dipped my brush into my clean water container, there were many times when it was easier and more efficient to charge the brush with water using the charger.
You may have difficulty understanding this at first, but if you decide to make a Charger for yourself, this will all fall into place very quickly when you come to start using it.
The Charging Cradle.
Note. Due to this being an entirely new innovation I have had to invent my own jargon to describe some of the parts. The Charging Cradle is where the brush is laid momentarily in order to take on a charge of water. The photograph below shows a brush being charged on the Watercolour Charger's charging cradle.
How much water will a brush take up when dipped in the traditional way? It depends how deeply it is immersed, the length of time it is immersed and how thirsty the brush is. It is difficult to judge. This is where the benefits of using a Watercolour Charger will be realised.
The charging cradle is where the brush is charged with water. An important advantage with the Charger is that you charge the brush in the horizontal plane. You have full visibility of the brush and will quickly learn how much water is being absorbed by watching how the brush tip and belly begins to swell and shine. After a very short time it will become second nature and you will not need to monitor the charging process.
The brush is briefly laid in the cradle and gently rotated. For an approximation of how much water is being taken up by the brush, you can monitor this by watching how the brush tip begins to swell. Also, for every drop of water, you will release one bubble which you'll see rise in the reservoir. You will soon realise that when painting you may only want to use maybe one tenth of a drop of water per charge. After a short while you will begin to appreciate how this method can provide superior control over the dipping method.
The charging of the brush can be a rapid process. This is an enormous benefit and you will soon realise how this helps with the flow of your painting. It is especially useful for gradations. The whole process can now be so smooth and free flowing that it can only lead to better paintings.
As a matter of interest, when I gradate a 7 x 5 sheet of watercolour paper, I charge a No.16 brush with paint, make an initial pass across the paper with the brush, then root charge the brush until two bubbles have been produced (e.g. the brush has absorbed two drops of water) and continue across and down the sheet in this manner until I get to the bottom of the paper. My No.16 is a big and thirsty brush.