Intermediate Guide Wet-in-Wet Watercolor Washes

Welcome to another round of wet-in-wet watercolor techniques! In this guide I will share some tips for creating a simple subject using the ideas we’ve learned so far in the beginner series. It’s nothing new under the sun, but hey, it’s important to get this content out these on the site for those that are building their watercolor foundation. After all, this is what good watercolor paintings are built upon.

Wet-in-wet study video

Did you miss the previous lessons? This intermediate watercolor wash series is a continuation of the beginner series we released earlier. Be sure to check them out.

Introduction to Wet-in-Wet Watercolor Magic

Wet-in-wet watercolor painting, renowned for its ethereal beauty and fluidity, often poses a daunting challenge for artists. However, one must practice and embrace its randomness because it’s part of slinging watercolors.

Remember there are certain things you can control, and others times have to let go! Get out of the way and let the paint do what it wants to do. Simple…

Becoming proficient in any skill requires time and effort. It takes countless hours to grasp the complexities of timing, to fully comprehend the texture of paint, and to master the art of blending and allowing paint to flow in different directions.

I can vividly recall my initial experience with laying down a wet wash and adding layers of paint on top of it. Like many beginners, I felt a mix of awe and bewilderment, unsure of how it would turn out. This feeling of uncertainty is natural when venturing into something new.

The example below of a wet-in-wet study (the barn at the top) will demonstrate the fascinating nature of wet-in-wet technique. Certain areas are smoothly blended together, while others retain a sharpness akin to a freshly minted one-dollar bill. By the way, I haven’t come across one of those in quite some time. Do they still produce them?

Intermediate Guide Wet-in-Wet Watercolor Washes Demo
Learn wet-in-wet watercolor wash techniques

The Essence of Timing

In the world of watercolor, timing is crucial. It can make or break your artwork. The video tutorial thoroughly examines the intricacies of when to apply pigment onto wet paper. I discussed this topic extensively in a previous video. Make sure to check out the tutorial on using the three popular watercolor mixtures when you have a moment. It’s part of this series and will definitely provide additional insights into what I’m discussing today.

Mastering Thicker Paint

One of the key secrets to successful wet-in-wet painting lies in the consistency of your paint. Yes, I’m more, or less repeating myself here, but not really! There are two BIG considerations the artist has to pay attention to;

  1. How wet is the paper?
  2. And, what paint thickness would I use to paint into it?

Each scenario calls for a different concoction. I know, it’s frustrating, I get it! But it’s just the way it is and you gotta suck it up if you want to be in the big leagues, okay? You’ll be fine…

It’s all about practice, practice, practice. But guess what? I have a fantastic suggestion for you. Keep it simple! Just like the barn I painted for this lesson. Sure, I could have gone all out and created a more intricate scene with every little detail, but I chose not to. Why? Because I remember what it’s like to tackle wet-in-wet conditions.

Honestly, even after all these years of painting watercolors, there are still times when I struggle with it. So don’t worry if you make mistakes – it happens to the best of us!

Instead of obsessing over creating masterpieces, focus on doing small studies and do them frequently. Start with simple objects like an apple, basic cubes and geometric shapes, a chair, some tea cups – you get the idea. Practice makes perfect!

So, What’s Next?

We still have plenty more to explore! Up until now, we’ve covered some crucial aspects of watercolor painting. We’ve discussed the best materials to use, the importance of a well-equipped workspace, various ways to hold a watercolor brush, an introduction to wet-in-wet technique, and the three main mixtures. Now, it’s time to put all these ideas into practice with a small study.

Next, we will expand on these concepts by delving into a few barn studies. However, we’ll raise the level of difficulty by incorporating different types of washes, including gradated and variegated washes. These techniques are incredibly valuable and will add a dynamic touch to your artwork. So get ready to take your skills to the next level!

Conclusion: Embrace Your Journey

As you navigate this intricate terrain, remember that art is a journey, not a destination. Embrace the challenges, celebrate the surprises, and find joy in the process. Let the watercolors guide your hand and allow your creativity to flow freely. Through dedication and practice, you’ll unlock the door to a realm where imagination knows no bounds.

Together, let’s paint a vibrant, flowing masterpiece that speaks volumes and resonates with the soul. Happy painting!