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Watercolour washes and how to use them

Watercolor washes are some of the basic watercolor techniques that all watercolor painters has to execute very well before building on more complex and painting techniques using the medium. Before a watercolor wash is done well, it will be good to try out first and practice how the brush is held. Most beginners hold the paint brush much like a pencil, that is near the ferrule without variation on the grip.

To get the most out of the brush and execute washes and details, it will be well to practice and notice how paints and strokes behave differently when other points in the handle of the brush is used. Varying the grip from the base of the ferrule to the tip of the handle creates different strokes. The farther away from the handle one goes, the smoother and finer lines are produced. That said, the following are watercolor washes that watercolor artist applies in their work in varying degrees and that no effective watercolorist cannot do without.

Flat Wash – There are three basic variations of a flat wash, the flat and even wash where the color is applied entirely without variation in shade, a light to dark wash and a dark to light wash. To do this, charge the flat brush with a liberal amount of paint starting in a corner (no matter which, work for conveninece as this depends on whether you are left handed or right handed), touch the paper gently with the brush and pull the paint to the other corner. Execute the brush stroke so that the paint flow as even as possible. The next brush strokes must overlap near the edge of the preceding stroke. If the paint does not flow evenly, increase the angle of your board.

Always keep a blotting paper near to control the flow and when there is too much dripping, work faster and blot the drips away. Refill the brush as needed and keep the tone even. Repeat the process until you have achieved the wash desired. To "cut" the edges, use the flat edge of the brush. If beads run downwards, pick this using the wick action of the brush. Every color in your palette has their own drying properties so try different washes using different colors. Try also drying out the paper at an angle as this technique tends to settle out the pigment with the paper texture.

Graded Wash – The aim here is to achieve a wash where the value of the color changes smoothly from dark to light. Graded washes often used in landscape painting to paint an open sky, although there are lots of other applications for this technique. The process is very similar to the flat wash except that in creating a graded wash you could either start by painting the paper with a darker value working yourself to the bottom with lighter paint (or water) to decrease the intensity of the color.

Glazed Wash – This technique uses another color as wash over another color to arrive at a glazed over effect. Basically glazing is painting a transparent color on top of another that produces different effects and values to the color underneath.

To watch the video demonstration, make sure to go to my Facebook page

Enjoy your week!

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