Flat Wash with Watercolors

Paint a rectangle for a Flat Wash in Watercolor.

Choose a flat or round brush.

Tilt board and paper towards you about 2″.

Right-hand painters will go from left to right with paint strokes.

  • Charge the brush with paint, and starting in upper left corner, touch the brush to the paper, and gently pull a straight line of paint to the upper right corner.
  • Refill brush.
  • Make second stroke quickly . Don’t let the first stroke dry.  Start the second stroke at the bottom of the first stroke, being sure just to overlap the bead of paint now formed at the bottom of the first stroke.
  • Refill the brush after each complete stroke.
  • Continue overlapping strokes, riding and pulling the beads all the way to the bottom.
Watercolor example of flash wash

Rinse the brush, squeeze out the water, and run the damp brush along the last formed bead at bottom of the exercise.  You should end up with an even toned rectangle of color.

Remember good quality paint and paper will make your work easier by offering consistently high quality.

Graded Wash with Watercolors

This is a no-brainer.  Just follow the Flat Wash instructions above. But, instead of charging the brush with paint, charge it with water.

Watercolor example of flash wash

A wash is a solid sheet of color.  A wash over a previously painted surface is called a glaze.  A graded wash is a wash that changes in color, value, temperature, or intensity.

Load the brush with color and paint a couple of strokes across the whole width of the paper.  A bead should form on the bottom; then, very quickly dip your brush into a water container, and pick up the edge of the bead and paint across the sheet.

This will reduce the concentration of the pigment on the brush between 10- and 25-percent.  Working your way down the paper, repeat the dipping process and proceed to paint down the sheet.  You should end up with just plain water on the last stroke or two.

Granulating One Color Into Another

Paint the first color on top of the sheet.  Go down as far as you wish, painting a solid sheet of color with long horizontal strokes.
Then, you can turn the board around 180 degrees and paint, which is now the top of the board and paint the other color in. Moving fairly fast, you will be able to blend the two colors together.