Saturday, February 24Not Your Ordinary English-Tagalog Dictionary

What is Watercolor in Tagalog? Brief History and Famous Watercolor Artists

Watercolor in Tagalog is called “akwarela” or “pinturang tinutubigan,” where “pintura” means “paint” and “tinutubigan” means “add water.” However, Filipinos simply call this water-based paint “watercolor.” Also called aquarelle, watercolor refers to both the medium (watercolor set) and the artwork done, which can be on paintings or paper. 

Water color in Tagalog
Water color sets in the Philippines

The origin of watercolor painting goes back to ancient Egypt civilizations, Renaissance, and Baroque Periods. In ancient China, watercolor painting became popular during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the Islamic world, watercolor was used for miniature paintings and illustrations in manuscripts. 

Watercolor gained recognition as a standalone medium during the Renaissance, particularly in Europe. Artists began using transparent pigments mixed with water to create delicate and luminous effects. This includes German artist Albrecht Dürer, who was known for his botanical illustrations such as the famous Young Hare in 1502. 

In the 18th century, Paul Sandby was dubbed the “father of English watercolor.” On the other hand, Thomas Girtin and J.M.W. Turner elevated watercolor to new heights, showcasing its expressive and atmospheric qualities. Watercolor continued to evolve in the next centuries and remains a popular medium for artists today. 

Rafael Arenillo Cusi is widely recognized as the “Master of Watercolor in the Philippines.” Other notable Filipino watercolorists include Erwin Mallari, Jun Martinez, and National Artist Vicente Manansala. Furthermore, the Philippine Guild of Watercolorists Inc. (PGW) was established in 2016 to promote watercolor as a respected art medium in the country. 

In 2021, the PGW and the Gifts and Graces Fair Trade Foundation Inc. organized a watercolor painting contest. Out of the 36 entries, Eduardo Solano Jr. won the grand prize for his “Mananagat” to honor local fishermen. Jarsen Arsenio O. Lacson won the second prize for his “Batang Panday,” depicting a young man busy with his metalwork. 

In the Philippines, watercolor is introduced to grade school students, whether they attend private or public elementary schools. It is usually included as one of the essential school supplies. Parents typically buy watercolor sets in pan form for their children, while artists generally prefer using watercolor in tubes, similar to small toothpaste tubes.

Use watercolor in a sentence. 


Hilig ng anak kong babae ang magpinta, kaya ibinili ko siya ng watercolor set.


My daughter is interested in painting, so I bought her a watercolor set.

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