This post is for anyone who wants to learn how to paint a watercolor wash. A gradation wash starts darker and gradually lightens. With a little practice this wash will enhance all your paintings. Below is a blue gradation that can be wonderful for a sky. A demonstration of each step is shown to achieve a smooth watercolor wash.

It is easier to have your watercolor paper on a slight angle. Raise up the top of your board and use gravity to help move the paint down your paper. Have plenty of watercolor paint ready to finish the entire wash. Timing is important for a smooth transition. In the middle of the wash you do not want to be mixing more paint. Load your brush with as much paint as it will hold.

starting a watercolor wash

Start with your loaded brush and remember that watercolor paint dries lighter so make sure your paint is darker than what you want for the dry wash.



I think the wash comes out smoother when the brush travels in one direction. So start at the left and work to the right, or vice versa.




In the image below you can see the bead of watercolor paint that is moving down the paper as you add each stroke across the paper.




Start rinsing some of the paint out of your brush as your proceed down the paper. The paint will get lighter as more water is added to the wash.


watercolor wash demonstration


Finish up with a only water in your paint brush. Let gravity move the paint down the board. Any streaks usually go away when the paper is dry.


gradation watercolor wash

Practice using different colors and values and you will see improvement. Before your next watercolor painting plan on using a gradation wash in at least one area of the painting. When you see the results you will be looking for more areas in your painting to add these wonderful watercolor washes.

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