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Old 02-03-2008, 12:06 AM
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Thumbs up EASY WASH TECHNIQUES IN WATERCOLOR—February 2008 CLASS—

Hello everyone,

This thread is a series of demos, examples and an explanation of different techniques used in creating washes in watercolor. There are many ways to utilize washes within a painting, and these are some of the techniques I use often within my paintings. The key for me is to experiment, and let the painting ‘paint itself’. I hope you enjoy my interpretations of some of the various wash techniques available.

Please feel free to ask questions, join in, and post your own work with explanations. This is not intended as a WIP, but a sharing of my techniques and thoughts about how exciting watercolor washes can be.

Quote:
Please post your works and comments about them in the 2008 FEBRUARY HOMEWORK Thread here .



[Note: To preserve the continuity of instruction, this thread has been edited to remove some posts that did not pertain to the technique being demonstrated. The Moderators]


I have broken the thread into two sections, the first covering wet in wet techniques and the second showing the effects of washes on dry paper.

The samples for the wet in wet blended technique are from a workshop I gave recently which was sponsored in part by The Studios of Key West, and Jack Richeson Fine Art Materials.
Maggie



Creating A Blended Wash ~easy techniques in watercolor~


Many techniques are available to the watercolor painter to create different ‘looks’ and ‘feel’ to their paintings. Once mastered, several different techniques may be combined in one painting to create the illusion of texture and the subtle transition of color.

The blended wet-in-wet technique is perfect for capturing skies and atmosphere, lively sunsets, or for creating abstract backgrounds for floral compositions. Once dry, the foreground and other compositional elements can be over-painted either with more washes or dry brush techniques.

My personal favorite is the wet-in wet blended wash technique, where most of the color mixing is done on the paper rather than the palette, which creates a subtle blend of color, and can create some very striking transitional color combinations.

The type and quality of materials is the key to successful blended washes. If you want to achieve professional looking color-saturated results it is essential to use good quality pigments, thick watercolor paper and good brushes. Good quality materials do make all the difference!

MATERIALS

PAPER:
Watercolor paper is available in a large selection of thicknesses and finishes. Cold press is a medium texture paper, hot press is smooth and rough is rough texture. Subtle differences vary from brand to brand, and even in different batches of the same brand. For blended washes I recommend a paper which is at least 140lb in weight, and preferably 300lb. Because you need to move the paper around, you do not want to staple it, tape it or stretch it on a backing board…so anything under 140lb will cockle and buckle. *I would highly recommend that you try out different brands and textures to find a paper that you are comfortable working with and will enhance your composition is sympathetic to the way you paint. I have used Arches Cold Press papers for many years and find this brand to be very consistent. Recently I have been experimenting with other types of papers such as Fabriano Uno and Jack Richeson papers.

PAINTS:
Good quality artist grade tube watercolor paints are another component to creating successful blended washes. Good quality paints are saturated in pigment, and in turn give color-saturated results. Colors may differ from manufacturer to manufacturer even if they have the same color name. Transparent colors work well for blended washes, but I have also had good results with some of the more opaque colors. It is important to experiment with how colors work together when left to blend by them selves. You can achieve some extraordinary color mixes when you have the courage to ‘play’ with unusual combinations and not worry about the outcome. I have used Winsor and Newton artist grade watercolors for a long time, and like them. Recently I have also been using Maimeri Blue watercolors and the Steven Quiller range.

BRUSHES:
Brushes are equally important in creating good quality washes. I suggest you use the biggest brush you can afford ~even on small paintings~ as you will be using pigment loaded sweeping movements to create your washes. I use a different brush to lay down the water to wet my paper from the brushes I paint with. This stops accidental color contamination.
My personal favorite is the Isabey range of squirrel mop brushes, but these are expensive. Alternately I also use a Chinese hake brush to lay down the water, and a #26 or smaller round (with a point) to lay down the color. I also often use flat 2-inch and 3-inch wash brushes such as Robert Simmons Sky Flow brushes. Large Chinese Hake brushes can be split quite easily to make smaller brushes, and are inexpensive, but have a tendency to leave hairs on your paintings.





BLENDED WASH TECHNIQUE

Preparing for painting:
Before I begin a painting I find it helpful to determine my finished mat size. This gives me an idea of proportion and helps make decisions about the composition. I keep several pre-cut mats of various sizes to hand as sample mats so that I can check how the painting will look as a final piece at different stages of the painting process.

After determining the size of my painting, I tear or cut 300lb paper to size ~ usually 2 inches larger all round than my inside matt opening. After choosing my colors I mix up separate pools of color on my palette ready for use.

Technique:
1. Using the Hake brush lay down clean water on the paper without gaps until the paper surface is saturated. Make sure the surface is covered as 300lb paper will soak up a lot of water and you may have dry spots. When the surface has sheen it is ready to continue. Too much water and the pigment will slosh around.

Changing to a large round brush, and picking up a lot of pigment from the prepared wash on your palette, lay down color at the top of the piece of paper. You may also put some pigment where the horizon line would be. Pick up the paper with both hands and turn it vertical, horizontal and move it around. You will quickly see the pigment spreading on the wet paper. You may add another color in certain areas of the composition at this stage if you want to introduce another color. Move the paper again, and let the watercolor wake it’s own journey……the painting will practically paint itself!

As the paint moves with the clear water it will blend. You can control where it is going by laying the paper flat again on your working surface.

If the paper is very wet, mop up drips from one corner with a clean dry brush or paper towel. If the paper is still wet enough you can add a further application of one of the colors…or both…depending on how saturated you want it to look. Remember that watercolor dries much lighter that it appears wet.

** If your paper is partially dry when applying more color on top of the initial layer, you will get what is known as ‘blooming’, which will create an uneven blended wash. ‘Blooming’ has its uses, such enhancing compositional elements such as foliage…but I find it a little unsightly when trying for smooth transient color of a blended wash.

If you are unsure how dry your paper is it is better to let the paper dry completely before laying down another wash.


2. Let this first layer dry completely. Often thick watercolor paper feels dry to the touch, but is still damp in the core. Give it enough time to dry. It is good studio practice to be working on a second and even a third wash painting while you are waiting for the first one to dry.

When your first layer is dry, you may add another layer of wash. However, not all paintings need a second or subsequent layer of color.

Re-wet your entire painting with clean water using your Hake brush, using gentle strokes. If you are gentle, and the painting is totally dry, the paint should not lift from the first layer. Apply paint to this layer in the same manner as the initial wash, making sure to think about how the finished piece might look…. paying attention to where the horizon line might be and suggestions of any foreground. You may want to lay down more pigment in those areas, and leave a lot of the sky as a pale blend. If there is an area of too much pigment you can lift it of with a clean blotted Hake brush.

Continue in this fashion letting the layers dry thoroughly between applications.

** More is not always better! Sometimes I am satisfied with the first wash I have put down, but you should practice and experiment with what happens to colors when they are layered in this way.


3. When your initial washes are dry, mix up a darker color in the same range as your washes…or use a darker color of choice. This wash needs quite a lot of pigment in it……this is the color you will use for creating your palm tree or foreground etc.

If you want to add distant hills or land to the horizon line, use a diluted mix of this color by first applying clean water to the area of the distant hills and then a light wash (this in itself is also a wet-in-wet technique in a controlled area). Let this dry before adding more to the composition.

Usually for palm trees I just let the brush do the work and don’t draw them first. Use a #12 or larger brush with a good point, and ring it out so that it is almost dry before loading with pigment/wash. Test out on a scrap of watercolor paper until you are comfortable with creating sweeping palm fronds and tree trunks! I start with the trunk and let it flow upward towards where the fronds will be. You only get one chance at this, so really focus on how you want the finished painting to look! Once the trunk and fronds are painted you are pretty much stuck with the placement.

To make a mottled effect on part of the frond or trunk, dab here and there…just a little with a paper tissue to lift off the paint. This is known as a dry brush technique ~ dip brush in pigmented wash and blot out a little on a paper towel, drag brush over the paper.

** If your trunk is too dark or heavy you can scrape back a little when the painting is completely dry by using a sharp blade with a gentle scrapping action. This is good for making the little horizontal lines on the tree trunks, or for creating a little sparkle on the ocean. A little of this technique goes a long way!

In the last stage I often paint in some squiggles to represent boats on the horizon line using a tiny, tiny rigger brush. Dab with a soft tissue if you want them to be more subtle and muted.

Remember it is your painting……. and to a certain extent you are in charge of it. When the washes are blending and running into each other you are still in control by the way you move the paper and how much pigment you use. I always feel I am just helping the paint make it’s own journey….it takes a leap of faith to push through the washes and turn your painting into something uniquely yours.


Enjoy yourself and let the paint makes it’s own way. Hone in on your intuitive senses to paint with out drawing on the paper first and learn to have confidence in bold blended color washes. Paint with confidence and it will show in your work.




Wetting the paper















































In the above painting I used two unusual colors……Sepia and Naples yellow…..Just to show that you can use more opaque colors with this techniques as well as the transparent ones. I chose these colors to achieve a ‘moody’ effect. I liked the finished painting enough in this raw blended wash form, and thought it depicted a marshland scene and atmosphere fairly well. Sometimes I over paint more detail when the washes are completely dry, but have not done that in this case.


The painting below shows how important it is at every stage to use your mat as a visual tool to crop some of the messy bits out, or to find a good compositional background to over paint the foreground. You can also see that I work on many at one time, letting the washes dry completely while I am working on another painting.






More to follow in a few days.....

Maggie

Last edited by painterbear : 04-01-2008 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:16 AM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello, me again:

Below are some more examples of how different colors can look blended wet in wet. These paintings I did for my workshop as demo pieces.

















The one directly above I kind of ruined as I tried to put the little boat in with white gouache, and started (who knows why)!! to scrub out some of the ocean. It was a disaster, as the washes were so pigment laden and would not lift out as they would if they were thinner. So the lesson here is that you have to be mindful and sensitive to the pigment loaded washes when you are over painting.







This one I started on location at the beach, wet into wet….and later added some more washes. As you can see below I tend to gravitate to certain colors……. as without realizing it, I was using the same colors as I had made color swatches for in my color chart book some year ago! I put the color swatches next to the painting so that you could see how close the colors are. I chose the colors for this painting very intuitively, and was amazed when I looked in my color chart reference book.









More to follow later....

Maggie
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Old 02-03-2008, 12:37 AM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello everyone,

Here is another painting to show different color blends…painted wet into wet, color blending on the paper.







This one is one of my favorites. The bluish grey is Payne’s Grey…another color most artists wouldn’t use in watercolor. It actually blends quite well if it is watered down, and is great for over painting silhouettes. This one is tiny….5x7 mounted in a thick mat out to 11x14 frame size.


More to follow ........Maggie
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Old 02-03-2008, 09:25 AM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

KEEPING COLOR NOTES, THUMBNAILS AND BLOOMING

I have been keeping detailed color notes for some time now. At first it was because I could never remember how to mix certain colors or the properties of certain pigments, but now it is a habit and it takes no time to note down a few colors while you have the paint mixed on your palette.

I am always curious about how different pigments relate to each other, especially in either controlled or wet washed. For instance: Laying down a highly pigmented wash on already wetted paper in say, New Gamboge…… then adding pigment loaded sweeps of cerulean blue at the top of the page, horizon line and bottom….. then moving the paper quickly to allow the washes to make their own journey and blend….you will see that as the cerulean dries it granulates somewhat on the surface of the paper, causing a distinct pattern which dries differently from say Rose Madder and New Gamboge. Once you have some experience in what pigment properties do when laid on top of each other ….then you can use this technique to your advantage in certain passages of your painting.


Color Notes
It is important to make color notes of blended washes if you are doing a lot of washes at one time, so that you have the details of what colors to mix together to make the neutrals for your over painting or silhouettes. I t really works a lot better if you make a neutral or dark color by mixing the colors you have already used in the painting. This way the eye visually reads the dark silhouette as part of the painting.










Blooming
Blooming occurs when you add more wash or pigment to a partially dry wash. As part of the paper is already dry the new layer of wash can’t flow properly. Blooming can be either unsightly or beautiful. It depends on the look you are going for. I think of blooms these days as little challenges to make me have more vision. If you have vision and can incorporate a bloom in your sky or foreground by turning it into something beautiful, then that is fantastic. Blooming can look great incorporated in the foreground as part of or over painted for foliage.



The examples below show how blooming can be used to your advantage in the finished wash or painting. I have circled the areas where blooming has occurred.




















Above example shows granulation



Be bold and use unusual colors and color combinations. It really is the only way to learn. If you paint fifteen washes and they are all ‘disasters’ you can usually crop parts of them to use as original greetings cards. Bold wet in wet washes are very intuitive, and a lot of FUN. You have to let go of the outcome, and enjoy the process of letting the paint flow and make it own journey.




Thumbnails
Here are some examples of how little thumbnails in either watercolor or pastel help me visually compose when creating blended washes without a preliminary sketch. I make many little thumbnails on plein air ….sometimes to use many years later....... often showing the direction of light or clouds and shadows.

















More to follow.....Maggie
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:17 PM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello everyone,

Some more examples of wet in wet, painting lots of small paintings on one sheet of paper.

For this demonstration I worked on Arches 140 lb paper that is glued all the way around to the 'block'. These blocks work great as they have minimal warping.

Below is a progression of work, using the same wet in wet method as outlined above. First I marked off small sections slightly larger than my mat opening, using artist tape (or masking tape). I don’t always work this way, but wanted to show different approaches and ways of working.
As you can see by the photos it began to get dark, and as it got darker I decided to stop as I was working out on the deck.
I have also included a couple of photos of my palette….although I am ashamed that it is so contaminated. I usually work with it a lot cleaner than this!

I hope the photos speak for themselves, but please ask questions.














































Had to stop as it was late!

Maggie ........more to follow
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Old 02-03-2008, 04:30 PM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello, me again!


I was just taking some pastel paintings out of their frames to pack them for our move, and thought I would post this to show how my own pastel paintings inspire me in my watercolor wash work. It wasn’t until preparing this thread that I realized how close in similarity my watercolors and pastels are.






This painting is 14x14 inches (20x20 outside matt) on Wallis pastel paper, a painting I did a couple of years ago. I wonder how many of you who work in several different mediums find that your work is similar in all mediums? Maybe this is a good topic for another thread?



Maggie ....... more to follow
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Old 02-03-2008, 09:23 PM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

WASH TECHNIQUES ON DRY PAPER ~combining techniques

There are also many wonderful effects achieved laying down washes on dry paper. This is not a technique I have used very often, but a demonstration I saw this past week from a wonderful local artist here in South Florida spurred me on to experiment more with this technique. After her wonderful 45-minuet demo, I set about a four-day non-stop wash on dry paper
paint-a-thon. I have called this My Week of 100 washes!

I personally found this technique a lot more challenging than true wet on wet. You have to be fast, and have to battle for a smooth wash effect. It was a curious thing: after the initial wash on dry paper went down, my natural instinct was to layer on more washes, thus really ending up working wet in wet.

Using Arches 140lb cold pressed paper, I spent one afternoon tearing large sheets into smaller sizes to fit some of my pre cut mats. Once I had a stack of about 50 pieces of paper, I loaded my palette with paint (Stephen Quiller professional tube colors) in the following colors: Transparent Yellow Medium, Naples Yellow, Gamboge, Quinn Rose, Red Light, Manganese Violet, Ultramarine Violet, Payne’s grey, Ultramarine Blue Deep, Indanthrene Blue and Cerulean Blue.

*There are a lot of colors here, but in each wash painting I kept to two or three colors. I have only just started using this Richeson Stephen Quiller range of watercolors, and wanted to really see the vibrancy of each color. For these washes I used a LOT of pigment, and found the colors very intense. The Payne’s Grey differs a lot in color from W & N which is a lot more blue.

My brushes consisted of: *1 & half inch flat wash brush *#12 Richeson Professional 700 series round brush * large Yarka squirrel mop brush #8 *tiny bamboo rigger and an old #12 brush for mixing.



Technique:
I mixed up good-pigmented puddles of colors, using an old brush for mixing, rinsing well between each color and using clean water.

Placing the paper on a raised drawing board, I pulled pigment across the paper from right to left with the wide flat brush and immediately reloaded with wash ….then proceeded down the page overlapping a little on the previous stroke, sometimes adding clean water to blend. As the brush became dryer there was a lot of wonderful dry brush effects happening.

While this layer was still wet, and working quickly I loaded my brush with a different color and over laid the initial wash at the top of the page. Because the original layer was still wet it mixed, changed color and acted like a wet in wet wash. If the color was too weak I just loaded the brush again and proceeded. I also lifted the paper up and rotated it as in blending a wet in wet wash.

So now you have several things going on already in your painting: dry brush effects, blended wash effects, and also blooming. When I liked what was happening I placed the paper on a flat surface, which immediately stoped more horizontal or vertical wet blending.


By the end of three days and 100 washes later, my washes became more minimal and more saturated in pigment. Some of the washes are so beautiful and abstract in themselves that I almost don’t want to paint over the top! Some of them will look great with palms or Asian style foliage, and some will look great cropped down to use as original greetings cards.

You will see from the examples below how rich and vibrant these washes look.


* *I will have to split up the images in several posts as I can only post 15 images at a time. I’ll do this over several days, so please check back often.

































This example uses different wash techniques. You can make your painting as abstract or as representational as you want. It is great FUN to let go though, and let the watercolor paint make it’s own path. It’s like learning to 'see' all over again!


More to follow....... maggie
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:14 AM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello everyone,

Here are more examples from my paint-a-thon of 100 washes.






























Maggie....... more to follow.....
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:03 AM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

TIPS FOR KEEPING EVERYTHING CLEAN

I usually keep an old plastic bucket to hand to use for throwing away dirty water. This is a lot easier than running to the sink all the time. I keep clean water in a large plastic bottle also. Contamination of water from paint and contamination of your painting palette are some of the problems of doing a lot of washes in one session. Keeping your brushes and rinsing water clean will help keep the vibrancy of your pigments.

The other problem is contamination from backwashes. This happens when the surface you are painting on (under your painting) gets very wet with drips of color. Backwashes are little bits of color picked up from either your brush or soaking into the back of your watercolor paper from drips left on your painting surface. I usually wipe my painting surface after each wash to help eliminate this.

I also sometimes use a metal ruler if I want a straight horizon line when working on DRY paper. (see example below). You can also use a masking fluid applied to your paper to save white areas. You can also lift out areas of color when the wash is still wet by using a soft paper towel or dry stiff brush. Be careful, though, as you can easily damage the surface of your paper.

Using a lot of water in wet in wet techniques can sometimes remove all the ‘sizing’ from your paper…depending on different brands of paper this happens quicker than others. Once the sizing has gone, your washes will soak into the paper like ‘blotting paper’ and not blend properly. This is particularly prevalent in smooth hot pressed surfaces.

Caution! My painting area can get quite messy when I am in the swing of laying down wet in wet washes……so don’t try this in your living room over an expensive carpet!










I’ll post more examples later in the week,
Maggie
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:51 AM
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Thumbs up Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hi Maggie
Your wash techniques are wonderful...it's a great learning thread for all...
Thanks for this...
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Old 02-04-2008, 11:22 AM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello everyone, ……to continue…..


First I want to post one of my husband’s photographs to show how his compositions and colors influence my own work. Sometimes I make a value sketch form a photograph like this, but usually just use the images as inspiration for tropical scenes and color combinations.







In the example below you can see clearly how I have incorporated several techniques. This wash painting was completed in ‘one pass’ …..meaning all the stages were completed while the painting was still wet from the initial wash. Sometime I let the washes dry and apply more washes, but with this one it ‘created itself’ from the initial wash.


Once the paint started flowing I spent about 15 mins……most of this time turning the paper and allowing the runs and blending to happen. As the paper dries blending takes longer to happen and you have to encourage it along by moving the paper a lot, I love this part, and only wish the camera could capture the pigment moving and seeping together better!


Working outside in our kind of weather the washes dry pretty quickly, so I had to rewet areas with clean water to keep them workable. The colors are very bright and obviously imaginary, but I wanted to show how a very limited palette can work.


I always have a few mats to hand to check to see how the composition will look when cropped and as you can see they get messy themselves with fingerprints and paints. Working with a pre cut mat to hand is visually very good practice, especially when you are not drawing the composition on the paper first.


For the example below I started with DRY paper, and used a metal ruler where the horizon line would be. Initially working upside down (to let the wash flow away from the horizon line) you can see how the painting progresses.

























Post more examples later....... Maggie
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Old 02-04-2008, 12:24 PM
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Question Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

“Because you need to move the paper around, you do not want to staple it, tape it or stretch it on a backing board…so anything under 140lb will cockle and buckle”.

Could you expand on this part a bit? If 140lb paper is taped to Masonite board, could you not still turn or move the paper as you would if it were free? Thanks…J
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Old 02-04-2008, 04:13 PM
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Re: Easy Wash Techniques In Watercolor

Hello Pa Paw,
Yes, you can tape the paper to masonite board or a backing board, or even staple it ……….and do wet in wet washes……. Although in my experience if you have a very wet wash and the water is sloshing around a little the pigment congregates where the edges are taped which can cause backwashes. I think if you are a beginner to wet in wet washes, it is easier to have the paper free. In actual fact I usually recommend starting out using 300lb paper, even though it is expensive, as you don’t have to worry about cockling and buckling. In my experience what happens is ….. when the paper starts to cockle, the wash~pigment doesn’t have a smooth passage across the page, which leads to an uneven blend. Quite naturally the pigment wants to settle it the valleys.

I think the key is to experiment. What works well for one artist may not work for the other. If you are comfortabnle with creating wet in wet washes on paper that has been taped down…..then go for it! When I wrote the explanation of wet in wet wash technique it was meant for my workshop students who were at different skill levels. The other thing to remember is that different brands of paper react differently.

If you take a peep back in this thread I actually have used a 140lb arches block where I taped off different sections. If you look carefully y at some of the photos I think you’ll see what I mean about the wash congregating at the edges of the tape. Also, sometimes I like the wash to run right off the piece of paper (especially if I have initially used too much water) and when it is taped down the tape restricts the flow.

Hope this makes sense …….Maggie
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Old 02-06-2008, 05:18 PM
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Re: February 2008 CLASS—EASY WASH TECHNIQUES IN WATERCOLOR


FINISHING YOUR PAINTINGS

Even though some of your washes will be beautiful enough to mat and frame as abstract color paintings, you will probably want to over paint more compositional elements once the basic washes are dry. For some of my brighter sunset colored washes I use silhouettes or tropical foliage using a dry brush technique. Less is usually more when you are painting on top of already color saturated washes, and for my work, minimal landscape elements work well.

Mixing a neutral or dark color from the same colors in your painting:
For over painting dark landscape or tropical foliage, I always make a dark color form the wash colors used in the initial washes with just a touch of Payne’s Grey or dark blue. This way the eye flows over the paintings and reads the dark or neutral color in the same range as the under washes. If you are doing a lot of different colored washes in one painting session, it is good practice to note down the colors you are using, as you may well forget them in a couple of days when you are ready to over paint.


Dry brush technique: If you are new to dry brush techniques it is advisable to practice before you start over painting on your washes. Once the dark color is down you are committed so you have to get it right from the beginning! I practice tropical palms all the time on little scraps of watercolor paper.


Below are some examples of simple dry brush strokes. I used up colors I had left over on my palette, and used two different brushes that were both wet and wrung out really well with a paper towel. The paper is a small 300lb Arches cold pressed watercolor block. I hope the examples are self-explanatory


* Using a knife to scrape back: quite often in dark areas such as foliage, tree trunks or the horizon line, I scrape back a little when the over painting in TOTALLY dry. Using a small sharp craft knife, I literally scrap the dry paint gently and take off some of the pigment. Once you have practice you can scrape back in addition to dry brush technique.









































The image above shows using a knife to scrape back



More to follow..... Maggie...
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Old 02-07-2008, 08:59 AM
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maggie latham maggie latham is offline
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Re: February 2008 CLASS—EASY WASH TECHNIQUES IN WATERCOLOR


Hello everyone,

I was looking through the 100 or so washes I did last week, and didn’t really care for all of them looking very abstract and minimal. So thought I would show how I sometimes re-wet with clean water and add more wet in wet washes. This excersie has been somewhat of a learning curve for me too and I really didn’t know if I could pull some of these particular bright wash painting into something more realistic.


Visualizing in your minds eye: First I spent a long time looking at this blue painting, trying to visualize what direction to go in, and decided it needed warming with Quinn Rose. I still wanted to retain the faded out area towards the horizon line, but wanted to increase contrast both in the sky, foreground and middle ground, changing the middle section into an impression of mangrove bushes.



Starting by wetting the entire painting with clean water, I dropped in a medium density mixture of Quinn Rose and water to the top, middle and bottom; quickly moving the paper, and turning it, letting the new wash flow. I let this layer dry completely and did two or threes more subsequent layers in the same way, concentrating more on the horizon and darkening the middle.



The key here is to let each layer dry in-between each new application of water and wash. I f you use a soft brush such as a Yarka squirrel hair one, which I used, you can drag it VERY gently across the page to wet the painting without shifting or lifting any of the original wash. Use very gently strokes though. Heavy-handed strokes may shift the pigment in the dried layer.



I tried to photograph as many stages as I could, and there is a close up of the impression of mangroves near the horizon line.

I checked the composition in an old mat after each subsequent wash to see how it might look. I thought the bottom needed to be a little more dark, so have just applied another strong wash to the bottom portion. I may also consider scraping out a small boat, but the composition might be strong enough without even the suggestion of a boat.

I am happy enough with it, but the one thing, which bothers me, is the distinct vertical banding in the sky…which was part of the initial wash. (caused because I did NOT move the paper around enough for even blending to happen) In retrospect I would have liked a much smoother transition in the colors of the sky.

It is difficult to go the extra step and turn a bright, highly pigmented abstract wash into a muted atmospheric seascape. It really does take courage to pull the wash painting together at this stage.









First layer of clear water














Wet with lots of Quinn Rose pigment in the wash










close up as it is drying.... mangroves are starting to 'happen'!





I like what is going on. Almost finished......


Maggie ...... more to follow....

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