A uniform, flat wash in watercolor can be tricky to paint. When you need an area to be the same value with no gradation in your painting, a flat wash is needed. Look at the Nauset Lighthouse painting shown here. There are several flat wash areas throughout the painting. Every area is a flat wash except for the sky and the dark area at the top of the lighthouse. Each area is a different color and or value to portray an area in the watercolor painting. Learning how to paint a flat, smooth, uniform watercolor wash can be tricky. Today I will show you an easy, effortless way to paint a flat wash in this beginner watercolor tutorial.


Nauset Lighthouse Cape Cod watercolor painting with pen and ink by PJ Cook.

Flat, uniform washes are used throughout this painting.



Do not run out of paint in the middle of a flat wash. Mix more than you think you will need. For this video tutorial I used rolls of tape 4-5 inches high to prop my board up at the top. I’m working on dry paper.

  1. Tape any areas or edges on the paper if you want a clean edge.
  2. Angle the board that has the paper attached to it.
  3. Have a large amount of watercolor paint all mixed in your palette.
  4. Have paper towels or a sponge to soak up excess paint when finished.


  1. Saturate the paint brush with watercolor paint.
  2. Paint the first row across the paper
  3. Notice the bead of paint that forms.
  4. Keep a bead of paint throughout as you work your way down the paper.
  5. Stroke the brush across the paper just enough to keep the bead, do not go over areas more than once.
  6. Soak up any excess paint when you are finished.
  7. Let dry before completing your painting.


Follow along in the video below. Notice the completely uniform value of violet that I was able to achieve using this method of a bead wash. Practice this a few times and you can be an expert in the flat wash technique. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter and youtube channel for more tutorials. Please share this post with anyone who is learning to paint and can benefit from this watercolor lesson. Oh, and leave any questions below. Thanks!




lern how to paint a flat wash with this watercolor tutorial.