Blending Watercolor Wash Techniques

Welcome back to the second installment of our watercolor wash techniques series! In this tutorial, we will delve into the art of blending wet-in-wet and wet-in-dry watercolor washes to create a simple yet captivating landscape study.

If you’ve been following along, you’re already well on your way to mastering the fundamental skills needed for creating stunning watercolor paintings. If this is your first entry into our series, don’t worry; we’ll recap some essential concepts from parts one and two before diving into the exciting world of wet-in-dry techniques.

But, I do recommend you go back and watch the previous videos starting with the first one which covers wet-in-wet watercolor wash techniques.

Watercolor Washes for Beginners Part 1

Blending watercolor washes video

So, Let’s Get Started With Learning Wet-in-Dry Watercolor Techniques

Here’s the study (below) we will create in this lesson. It’s a simple beginner friendly landscape that you can easily do without the frustration of a complex scene.

In the first part of our series, we explored how the amount of water used significantly impacts watercolor washes. We learned that painting into a wet piece of paper can present challenges, especially if you’re not mindful of timing and paint mixtures. The key takeaway was that controlling the moisture level of your paper is crucial for achieving the desired effect.

Now we are moving on the bigger ideas!

Blending Various Watercolor Wash Techniques
Blending Various Watercolor Wash Techniques

Blending Wet-in-Wet with Wet-in-Dry Watercolor Wash Techniques

Now, in part two, we’ll combine all the knowledge from the previous tutorials to introduce you to the concept of wet-in-dry. This technique opens up a world of possibilities as you gain more control when painting onto a dry surface.

You’ll discover how to seamlessly transition from wet-in-wet to wet-in-dry, allowing you to create breathtaking landscapes with ease. And, we will use some other techniques as well like variegated washes and gradation washes.

  • A gradated wash is nothing more than a one color wash that has a variety of saturation, or values. Again, the key here is ONE hue.
  • A variegated wash is slightly more complex and involves two, or more hues. Because there are two, or more colors, there’s also a variety of values within the wash.

Both techniques are VERY POWERFUL when used correctly. They can make a dull wash more exciting, colorful and interesting visually. If you watched the video then you saw a gradated wash in the sky and lower foreground areas.

Let’s have a quick recap of some of the tips shared in the video. A great reminder for those that really want to learn watercolor sills.

What You Learned:

  • The principles of blending wet-in-wet and wet-in-dry techniques
  • How to use timing and moisture control to your advantage
  • Step-by-step instructions for a beginner-friendly landscape study
  • Tips and tricks for achieving beautiful, harmonious watercolor washes
  • Variegated and gradated wash techniques
  • Splattering techniques
  • Lifting and removing wet paint
  • Charging techniques
  • Adding depth into a landscape painting

Suggested Material Checklist

Materials can make or break the outcome of a watercolor study. Watch the video that covers the best watercolor materials if you need more specifics about color choices, brush sizes and such. Basically, it’s exactly what I use and recommend for all levels.

Watercolor Paints: Opt for artist-grade watercolor paints in a range of colors. Choose a basic palette that includes six primary colors (one cool and warm hue for each one including red, blue, and yellow) along with earth tones for a versatile collection.

If you aren’t aware of the six primary palette, then check out our in-depth article on how to mix watercolors for beginners. It has the exact hues I use for every painting. And, if I make changes, I always update the article so you know the exact hues that get the best results.

Brushes: Invest in a set of good-quality watercolor brushes with different shapes and sizes. Round brushes are excellent for detailed work, while flat brushes are great for larger washes. I’d recommend one medium and one large pointed round. Then get a large mop brush that will handle those initial washed that are applied in the very beginning.

You only need three brushes to do most of the heavy lifting! However, I do recommend having a dagger and possibly and Motler on hand as well. Check out the article I wrote on how to choose the best watercolor brushes if you have questions on the exact brands, sizes and such.

Paper: I highly recommend selecting watercolor paper specifically designed for this medium. Look for papers labeled “cold-pressed” or “hot-pressed” to suit your preferred texture. Experiment with different weights and brands to find the one that suits your style. Most beginners choose 140 lb. cold press to start their journey. Hot press tends to be a little slick and most used for highly detailed work and portraits.

Avoid cheap, wood pulp papers as they don’t react properly to washes and other techniques. These cheaper papers tend to break down quickly and don’t age well either, basically yellowing over time. Be sure to read the how to choose the best watercolor paper article when you have time.

If you aren’t aware of the six primary palette, then check out our in-depth article on how to mix watercolors for beginners. It has the exact hues I use for every painting. And, if I make changes, I always update the article so you know the exact hues that get the best results.

Palette: A palette is essential for mixing and diluting your watercolors. Choose a palette with wells to hold different colors and a large mixing area. Small palettes tend to get dirty too quick and I found it difficult to have enough free space to mix enough colors without having to stop everything to clean up. The Masterson Pro palette works great and available at Amazon and Blick Art.

Water Containers: Have at least two containers for water—one for rinsing your brushes and another for clean water. Make sure the containers aren’t too small, and I would recommend plastic over glass. I’ve had plenty of studio accidents and cleaning up shattered glass isn’t ideal when in a creative mode.

Masking Tape and Drawing Board: Masking tape helps secure your paper to a drawing board, keeping it flat and preventing it from warping. The tape is optional and depends if you prefer the clean edges. In the beginning you will most likely focus on sketches and studies, so maybe pass until you determine later on if you need it.

A smooth, firm board is a must! I recommend Gator foam board as it’s very sturdy, smooth and durable. Fairly inexpensive and light weight to boot. That covers materials, let’s move on to skills you need to start watercolor painting.

Conclusion

With these skills in your artistic arsenal, you’ll be well-equipped to create stunning watercolor landscapes and unlock your full creative potential. I hope you enjoyed the lesson and let’s connect on another one soon!