Watercolor (American English) or watercolour (Commonwealth and Ireland), also aquarelle (French loanword), a diminutive of the Latin for water, is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. Watercolor refers to both the medium and the resulting artwork.
The traditional and most common support—material to which the paint is applied—for watercolor paintings is paper. Other supports include papyrus, bark papers, plastics, vellum, or leather, fabric, wood, and canvas. Watercolor paper is often made entirely or partially with cotton, which gives a good texture and minimizes distortion when wet. Watercolors are usually translucent, and appear luminous because the pigments are laid down in a pure form with few fillers obscuring the pigment colors. Watercolors can also be made opaque by adding Chinese white.
In East Asia, watercolor painting with inks is referred to as brush painting or scroll painting. In Chinese, Korean, and Japanese painting it has been the dominant medium, often in monochrome black or browns. India, Ethiopia, and other countries have long watercolor painting traditions as well. Fingerpainting with watercolor paints originated in mainland China.