Sunday, November 2, 2008

Techniques - ready, set, paint!

In watercolor painting, the first skill to master is that of laying a wash. There are several types of washes:

  • Flat Wash
  • Graded Wash
  • Variegated Wash

Washes can be laid on either wet or dry paper. Working on dry paper is best if you want the wash to cover only a specific area as you have more control over the paint.

TIP: Paint will only run into the wet area of the paper.

A wash can be painted on wet or dry paper. To learn to paint a wash (wet on wet), first wet the paper using a large flat brush. The paper should be evenly wet with no puddles in places. Prepare the paint by adding water to the paint and mixing in the open area of your palette. In a flat wash, the top and bottom of the paper is the same shade of color. Once the paint is prepared and the water is wet, work from the top to the bottom using wide strokes. The paint lines will merge and will even up when dry. Do not overwork the paper.

In a graded wash, start with a strong solution of color and dilute it with clear water progressively as it is painted down the page until the color is very pale. Tilting the painting surface will encourage the streaks of color to flow and blend into one another. A graded wash is excellent for a sky which is deeper at the top of a painting becoming lighter closer to the horizon.

A variegated wash, contains more than one color. Before starting to paint, prepare all the colors you will need for that wash first. If you want the colors to blend into one another, wet the paper first and then lay down successive bands of color quickly rinsing the brush between each color. When the paint is wet, you will be able to see the separate colors distinctly, but they will merge and blend as they dry. A variegated wash is often used in landscape painting for a morning or evening sky when pinks, reds, and yellows are wanted in addition to blue.

Tip: When painting washes over large areas, always mix more paint than you think you will need. The wash will be spoiled if you have to stop and mix more paint. If there is paint left on your palette, it will dry, can be sprayed with water to moisten, and used again.

The video below demonstrates laying a wet on wet wash for a sky area. This is my first attempt at a video...we hope to get better at our "movie making" with practice.

1 comment:

Leigh said...

Hello! I just discovered your journal through My Take On Life. I've been interested in watercolors for awhile, but never had the opportunity or $$ to take a class. I'd like to follow along here.
:) Leigh