Wednesday, December 31, 2014


The first washes of a watercolor are likely to be covered by succeeding washes.  So why include them in the first place?

Because watercolor is transparent, the first washes can influence the second or even third wash.  The first wash may also determine the temperature of the finished painting.  Will the painting be primarily warm or cool?  The first wash may provide the relief from the final temperature.  A warm undertone may be the contrast for the cool dominant hues. 

In this painting of a Roman piazza, I wanted a warm hue to dominate the painting.  I flooded the middle part of the paper with yellow ochre.  Then quickly I extended the first wash with cooler, more neutral hues.  After all was dry, I placed darker, but same temperature colors on top.  If you glaze a cool over a warm or a warm over a cool, you will probably wind up with "mud". 

Finally, be bold with the underpainting.  If it is too diluted, it can't do its job.  The white of the paper can fool you into thinking you've gone too dark, but the second wash will prove that wrong.

Happy glazing!

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