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An alternative approach to watercolour technique

watercolour technique: the traditional way

The cornerstone of traditional watercolour technique is learning how to apply washes – the flat wash, the graded wash and the variegated wash. Wash technique stresses the importance of using a fully-loaded brush to create a bead of colour which moves down the paper with each stroke. At the end of the process, surplus water is picked up with a damp or ‘thirsty’ brush. The aim is to produce a wash without any banding or unevenness.

Using washes, the beginner is advised to work in the following ways:

  • from general to specific (top-down);
  • from light to dark;
  • from background to foreground.

A typical ‘how to’ book will include demonstrations of how to paint simple landscapes/seascapes to reinforce the merits of the method. The idea, of course, is to encourage the beginner to believe that with these tools he can make instant ‘art’.

But the feeling of progress doesn’t last – or at least it didn’t for me. Continue reading An alternative approach to watercolour technique

Fish Market, Venice

Watercolour for the beginner: the right choice?

Watercolour for the beginner seems to have a powerful attraction. I used to be a member of a local art group. We held regular exhibitions and although a typical exhibition would include a few pastels and an occasional oil or acrylic, the overwhelming majority of paintings would be watercolours. Mine included.

What is it that draws the amateur painter to watercolour? Continue reading Watercolour for the beginner: the right choice?