Where Daylight is the Enemy, Digitization is the Solution



Over the years, you’ll have seen that all types of paintings have been created with watercolors. Step one foot into a prestigious gallery and you’ll be overwhelmed with the stunning paintings made with only watercolor paints.


Some of the most impressionable and beautiful artworks have been created with the understated watercolor paints. However, when the sunlight is public enemy number one of the unprotected watercolors, it can deter some artists and push them towards the hardier oils and acrylics.

When a piece is as sublime as a watercolor painting, you want it to be remembered and preserved forever. So, if the relentless daylight is constantly putting this in jeopardy, what are watercolor artists to turn to?

That being said, thanks to modern-day technology allowing us to digitalize almost anything, more and more artwork is being restored onto the world wide web. Javad Marandi, a supporter of art and cultural initiatives in the UK, talks highly of Watercolor World, which is an organization specializing in digitalizing watercolors.

Watercolors are incredibly fragile, even the wrong humidity or temperature could cause them to fade. Due to this, the most impressive artwork is often kept away from the public eye to prevent it from becoming damaged.

However, what is the point of keeping something pristine when no one can benefit from its beauty? If something is not done to change this, watercolor paintings could become obsolete and unused. The only watercolors that you’d see would be in children’s art classrooms.

To avoid this, Watercolor World is digitalizing the watercolors that have been kept in storage for so many years. For the first time in their history, these artworks are being seen by the public worldwide. Important moments in our past are finally being resurfaced and viewed as much as they deserve to be, thanks to organizations such as Watercolor World.

How Do They Do It?

As we’ve mentioned, watercolors are incredibly fragile and many collectors are hesitant to allow anyone near them in fear of damages. However, Watercolor World has partnered with PFU, which is a Fujitsu Company, to prevent this from happening.

PFU supplies their ScanSnap SV600 portable scanner so that Watercolor World professionals can visit the owers of the paintings at their homes. This eliminates the problem of having to expose the watercolors to the elements whilst transporting them.

This way, the paintings can be kept in their ideal conditions until the scanner is set up and ready to go. Perhaps the most impressive feature of the portable scanner is that it doesn’t need to come into any contact with the painting itself.

Rather, the scanner adopts LED technology that has the ability to create digitalized versions of the artwork. This does not involve any harmful UV rays or heat, two of which are the most dangerous things to come into contact with watercolors.

What else emits UV rays and heat? The sun! It’s all coming together now as to why daylight is truly the enemy for watercolor artists and collectors. The Watercolor World team will finish scanning each of the paintings and take as much information from the collector as possible about the painting.

Once the watercolor has been successfully digitalized, it can be uploaded onto the Watercolor World website along with all the information that was collected from the owner. This includes anything relevant to the piece, such as the name, when it was created, its origin, and anything else that was written on the frame or painting.

The digitalization service is free of charge and enables anyone to be able to explore the beauty of watercolor art.

Potential Issues of Digitalization

Now that we know that we can digitalize artwork as easily as is demonstrated by Watercolor World, why wouldn’t everyone start doing so? Well, there are some potential issues that can lessen the quality of the paintings.

The physical pieces wouldn’t suffer any consequences from the ScanSnap SV600, but rather the digital version might falter slightly. This is because of the environment that the painting is scanned in.

Watercolors are likely to be kept in the dark to prevent them from being exposed to the daylight for too long. For this reason, the scanning process is likely to be done in a less than optimal lighting situation.

This can affect the final product in terms of the colors and texture. The digitalized version could end up looking very flat, two-dimensional, and distorted from the wrong colors.

Watercolor World professionals take this in their stride, however, and aim to edit the digitalized image until it looks as close to the original painting as possible. By the time that they’re finished editing the image, it should look almost identical to how it would look to the naked eye, as if you were standing right in front of it in an art gallery.

Scanning is different from merely taking a picture of the watercolor, and Watercolor World does an amazing job of capturing the essence of each and every painting that they work on. This almost eliminates all of the potential issues that could arise from digitalizing watercolors.

Just be wary of other organizations that do the same thing, and make sure that they use a high-quality scanner without exposing the painting to too much ultra-violet light or heat. In a world that desperately needs a little light back into it, we could all benefit from viewing some digitalized watercolors.

How to Prevent Watercolors from Fading

Watercolors should be kept in a space where no direct light can reach them, and filtered glass should be protecting it from the indirect sunlight. The painting should also be mounted on a board that’s free of acid so that the paper doesn’t age.

You should keep the painting away from moisture, oils, and odors. Heat sources should be avoided, and the temperature should be less than 20-degrees celsius. Humidity should be kept at around 50 to 65%.

Many experts suggest that you should continuously move your painting around to avoid the watercolors suffering from overexposure to the elements.

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