The Role Of Water In Creating Impeccable Visual Arts

Water plays a significant role in artworks.

Since time immemorial, humans showcased water in artworks as a styled image of a wavy line, a symbol that’s easy to identify and understand.


Water fountains, as featured in most cultures worldwide for their beauty, are also wonderful artworks.

Moreover, water is essential when mixing colors and paints for creating visual arts.

Prehistoric people who lived in the Sahara desert, the present-day Niger, Algeria, and Mali, painted and made incisions of water symbols on rocks. The same symbols are utilized in modern art.

The incisions encompass vertically- and horizontally-aligned wavy lines. It’s believed that the Sahara desert was once green and had lots of water, enough to fertilize its lands. This made the region “sacred.”

The stylized images of water weren’t just appealing to the eye, but also “sacred symbols.” With artists trying out other new and authentic designs over the years, unique symbols have been invented for the same purpose: easy recognition.

Other symbols for representing color include:

  • Straight lines for a shower or rain
  • Water drops
  • Colors
  • Little bubbles for fizzy water

Colors green to azure, shades of blue, are used to represent water in visual art as it appears in the natural environment.

The colors are often referred to as “cold colors” because they’re linked to water, which tends to get cold in its natural condition. Similarly, a star with six points represents the winter and cold par excellence because it takes the shape of a snow crystal.

All the symbols above used to represent water are applied in contemporary art.

How Water was Drawn and Depicted in the Past

Historically, humans used streaks and lines to showcase water in visual art as seen in medieval drawings. For instance, Leonardo da Vinci, Vermeer, Durer, and artists of the Renaissance utilized proportions in nature and colors to depict water in their work.

The works of Caravaggio utilized dramatic contrasts of color while those of Canaletto and Turner made use of reflected light interplays. On the other hand, the Impressionists and Monet made use of en Plein air paintings.

Ice and snow water themes are also common in poetry, literature, theater, fine art, film, and music.

The images of water in visual arts are eye-appealing, enduring, or even threatening. They showcase how water is utilized as a metaphor for metamorphosis, spiritual journey, renewal, birth and rebirth, violence, inspiration, or even death.

Typical of different forms of visual art, anything from oil and spray to tempera to etching and fresco, water is commonly used with aquatint and watercolor.

The mark it has made in the painting world is that of mutability, strength, and transparency. Different artists have used and continue to use symbols of water in their art pieces to convey various messages.

Additionally, water is an integral element of painting and other techniques of visual art.

Water Depiction and Use in Visual Art

Water is commonly featured in landscape paintings, especially marine art and coastal paintings. Historically, water has been stylized and showcased in various forms in visual art.

The power of water makes it mysterious and luring, something that has captured the attention of artists worldwide over centuries and still continues to do so.

The Role of Water in Creating Visual Art

Water plays a functional role in creating visual art such as paintings. It’s used to mix paints and other types of colors used in art.

Soft water is often preferred over hard water when mixing colors and paints for painting. The right water softener ensures that artists can maintain consistent results whenever they create an art piece. This helps maintain the quality of the painting or visual art produced.

The Role of Water Depictions in Paintings and other Visual Art

  1. Appeal and composition

Water is often used in landscape paintings as a point of focus to lure the attention of viewers to the artwork. It can also split a piece of painting featuring a pond, lake, or bay into different points of interest-based on the rule of thirds.

The element of water in visual art also gives it life and improves the rushing motion of water. It can also add energy to a painting in the form of a gushing river.

As a compositional value, water enables artists to add all kinds of textures to their artwork, atop making it look appealing to the viewer.

  1. Aquatic Symbolism

In figurative and still life visual art, water is used symbolically. Universally, it’s the symbol of change in art and literature; it can take any course and flows forever.

Water also symbolizes cleansing and purity in art, especially in ancient, historical, and renaissance art pieces of deities. This use is common in historical paintings than modern pieces.

Artists can depict water in visual art to change the mood of the entire representational piece.

As an example, Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” artwork features a calming sea that’s cozy for a serene, warm, and calm look and feel that leaves the viewer in awe.

However, if the sea had been showcased as frantic and wavy, the artwork would have a different mood, appeal, and emotional attributes.

The manner in which an artist depicts water in visual art such as paintings determines how viewers receive it.

Whether water is depicted in a painterly, abstract, or wholly representative art, its symbolic meaning is universally recognized; anyone can view it and deduce a message from it. Water will continue to inspire artists as long as the landscape continues to be inspiring.