Learn the Watercolour Technique

The watercolor painting can be difficult at first. It is only with time and lots of practice that one becomes confident enough to paint better. Never become discouraged from your mistakes or lack of progress.

Learn how to apply a flat even wash, a wash from light to dark, and one from dark to light. It is only through much practice that you will learn how to control various washes. Try tilting the board while doing a graded wash. These are some basic watercolor techniques that beginners should perfect to build up on more complex techniques. Blend one color, while it is still wet, into another, then add a third color to the mixture.

Mastering these watercolor techniques will enable you to get more enjoyment from your watercolor painting hobby.

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washesThe most often used watercolor technique is the flat wash. It is made by first wetting the area of paper to be covered by the wash, then mixing sufficient colour to easily fill the entire area. The colour suppose to be applied to a sloping surface in slightly overlapping horizontal bands from the top down. When it is complete the painting should be left to dry – don’t be tempted to work back into a drying wash, the results are usually disastrous!
A variation on the basic wash is the graded wash. This technique requires the pigment to be diluted slightly with more water for each horizontal stroke. The result is a wash that fades out gradually and evenly.

Wash 68 - Alpine Lake


glazingGlazing is a similar watercolor technique to a wash, but uses a thin, transparent colours applied over dry existing washes. Its purpose is to adjust the colour and tone of the underlying wash. Non staining, transparent colours are ideal for glazing as they can be applied layer after layer to achieve the desired effect. Be sure each layer is thoroughly dry before applying the next.

Flat Wash Exercise from Mastering the Watercolor Wash

Wet in wet

wet on wetIt is the process of applying colour to wet paper. The results vary from soft undefined shapes to slightly blurred marks, depending on how wet the paper is. The wet in wet technique can be applied over existing washes provided the are thoroughly dry. Simply wet the paper with a large brush and paint into the dampness. The soft marks made by painting wet in wet are great for subtle background regions of your painting.


Dry brush

watercolor-painting-dry-brush-or-broken-edge-techniqueDry brush is the almost the opposite watercolor technique to wet in wet. Here a brush loaded with colour (and not too much water) is dragged over completely dry paper. The marks produced by this technique are very crisp and hard edged. They will tend to come forward in your painting and so are best applied around the centre of interest.

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Lifting off

tissue5Most watercolor pigment can be dissolved and lifted off after it has dried. Staining colors such as Phthalo or Prussian Blue, Alizarin, Windsor Red, Yellow or Blue are difficult to remove and are best avoided for this technique. The process for lifting off is simple – wet the area to be removed with a brush and clean water then blot the pigment away with a tissue. Using strips of paper to mask areas of pigment will produce interesting hard edged lines and shapes.


Dropping in colour

5166938410 bf7f3b5e5aThis technique is simply the process of introducing a color to a wet region of the painting and allowing it to blend bleed and feather without interruption. The result is sometimes unpredictable but yields interesting and vibrant color gradations that cant be achieved by mixing the pigment on the palette.

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Here are some beautiful examples of watercolour paintings.

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