Part 1, What paint can do, Tonally graded wash


For this exercise I had to set my paper lengthways choose a strong colour and with a small amount of colour work in water. With a medium wide brush work from the top to the bottom of the sheet with increasingly dilute mixes of the colour until, at the bottom of my sheet I had a very pale wash almost faded out to white. After practising find another colour that is close to the original in the spectrum and paint graded washes on at least two more sheets.

Next work wet in wet paint a graded wash onto one of the sheets that has the first colour. Keep the intense tone of the new colour at the pale end of the first colour and allow the colours to merge in the centre.

First I didn’t have any watercolour paper so had to use a mixed media paper, however it worked well enough to do the exercises. I taped them down to a board but on removal they are still buckled so didn’t work as well as a well stretched watercolour paper. I tried applying the colour to the paper dry on the first exercises then adding water as I went down to dilute the paint as I went, in the main this worked well and I got a gradual lessoning of colour. However it works better when the first line of colour is applied to damp paper as can be seen in the large wet in wet exercise sheet. The Crimson pigment in the dilute Acrylic didn’t lay that even so it wasn’t as smooth as I could wish, it was slightly better with the orange though it had a mix of Crimson and Cadmium Yellow so wasn’t perfect.

The wet in wet didn’t work too well as by the time I had turned the paper around the Acrylic had dried when my wash got to the merge stage. I had slight merging of colour but you could still see a dry line. I found a larger offcut of paper and tried again, first I wet the paper and then applied the Crimson, turned the paper around and applied the Orange and got some nice fingers of mixing colour in the centre, rather like high summer cloud washing over the blue sky.

I am finding the experiments fun and a great way to learn about the properties and art of using Acrylic paint. I think in future when I get my off cuts of watercolour paper I will repeat the process and see how the paint behaves on a better support.


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