PLANNING WATERCOLOR WASHES

Once a composition has been worked out, it is important to plan the sequence of washes. The nature of watercolour means all the white areas must be decided from the beginning. For fine white lines masking fluid may be necessary. For larger areas, simply keeping them dry and exercising care will preserve them.

 

In this example the white fences and veranda posts were masked out. The roof areas had the background wash put in around them. Carefully wetting the paper up to the area to be kept white, allows the background wash to be flooded in without fear of loosing the whites.
The shadows under the veranda and on the walls were painted with the
same technique. As long as the roofs stay dry the surrounding washes
wont bleed into them.
Putting the dark tree shapes into a wet background gives a nice soft edge. Contrasting sharper edges were added after the washes dried. Try to put down the large light toned washes first. These can be put over any areas that will eventually be darker.
In this painting the initial foreground and sky washes covered all but the white roofs.

By working on these large washes first the tonal arrangement can be quickly established. Details can then be added over the large washes. This gives the painting a looser more spontaneous quality than carefully working on the detailed areas then trying to put a wash around them. Work quickly on these large washes and once they start to dry, don't touch them!

JOHN LOVETT 1997

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