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Basic Watercolor Techniques

These are some basic watercolor techniques that beginners should perfect to build up on more complex techniques.

For instance, inexperienced students often hold watercolor brushes like a pencil, completing the entire painting without varying his or her grip on the ferrule.

You should hold watercolor brushes in this position for strong decisive strokes, but you should also practice gripping it everywhere from the base of the ferrule to the tip of the wooden handle.

Notice how your stroke varies from a heavy blob to a fine hairline, and practice this brush handling on scraps of paper or on the back of discarded water-color paintings.

Learn how to apply a flat even wash, a wash from light to dark, and one from dark to light.

It is only through much practice that you will learn how to control various washes.

Try tilting the board while doing a graded wash.

In some instances you will tilt the board toward you, in others, away from you.

Do not have the board at too acute an angle, or the wash will dry unevenly; 15 degrees should be enough.

In the beginning your washes will probably be weak.

You will discover that certain colors will spread more evenly than others.

Paints with much staining quality, such as Alizarin Crimson, are difficult to lay evenly.

Others have a heavy sediment which appears as the wash dries, yet the effect is not unpleasant.

This effect can be used to advantage when certain textures are desired.

Make notes of how various colors react when made soluble with water.

You will find that some become pale or lighter almost immediately while others, with greater covering power, hold on to the original color tenaciously.

Blend one color, while it is still wet, into another, then add a third color to the mixture.

You will soon find that a muddy effect results when too many colors are mixed together.

However, in all these exercises you will discover beautiful grays and pleasing color combinations.

Along with the mixing of wet colors, make several flat washes, each of a separate color.

Allow to dry and then paint another color over the previously painted wash. Note how the under-color affects the second wash.

Try not to drag your strokes when applying one color over another, else you may disturb the under-color.

Mastering these watercolor techniques will enable you to get more enjoyment from your watercolor painting hobby.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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