My lesson this week for my Monday afternoon group was about different watercolor washes: flat, gradated, wet into wet and streaked wash. We divided up our paper into several squares for practice. One of the most important aspects of painting a wash is to have enough paint prepared on your palette. The gradated wash shown here is done by adding more and more water to your brush as you work down the paper. It is also a good idea to tilt your board while you are working.

A wet into wet watercolor wash can be multiple colors painted onto very wet paper. The paint will blend together on the paper. It is important to lay the color on then leave it to dry, do not overwork the wash. It is a good idea to dry your paper at the same angle that your painted it on. The flat wash is easier if the board is flat while painting and drying. The flat wash is a solid color throughout the square with no changes in value.

The streaked watercolor wash is done very wet while dropping wet paint onto the board and tilting your paper in the desired direction. Let the paint dry flat so it does not disturb the paint. A streaked wash is good to display action. In the example I used two colors and the purple is streaking across the paper.

I finished up our class with a small painting that was accomplished using several gradated washes letting each wash dry before starting the next wash. The cobalt blue was gradated from left to right and the yellow from the opposite direction. After the washes were completed I finished with direct painting of the lighthouse and boat. Another technique used here was pulling paint off the paper for the reflections of the lighthouse and boat. Using a stiffer wet brush wet the area that is to be lightened and brush over the area and than dab onto a paper towel. Repeat this process until the reflections are light enough.

Being able to paint different watercolor washes will improve your paintings. Try practicing the different types of washes while working on dry and wet paper.

Thanks, P.J. Cook