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How to paint a variegated wash in watercolor.

How to paint a variegated wash in watercolor.


I’ve shown you how to paint a flat wash
and I’ve shown you how to paint a graded wash today I’m going to demonstrate my
favorite and that’s a variegated wash if you’ve been following along with my
basic wash tutorials I’ve shown you how to paint a flat wash and I’m also
demonstrated a graded wash the next step is a variegated wash and that’s
what this video is about. I love getting new art supplies I’ve
just bought a new watercolor journal that I can use to demonstrate different
painting techniques here on YouTube I don’t want to keep using my expensive
art paper to do quick demos on so that’s why I bought this one this is a Strathmore visual diary it has 22 sheets over 140 pound watercolor paper in it it’s
got a hard cover and what I like about this one is that you can open it right
out and use it either in landscape or in portrait orientation quite easily I’ve
been using it to practice my variegated washes just so that I can show you how
to do them properly I needed to do a bit of practice so I don’t show you any of
my bad habits. Just recapping from the previous videos a flat wash is consistent
in tone and color from top to bottom whereas a graded wash is one where the
color is darker at the top and it gradually gets lighter as you work your
way down the paper a variegated wash contains more than one color and it’s a
lot less predictable than a flat or a graded wash you never quite know what
it’s going to look like you might use a variegated wash if you were painting a
sunset or some grass or some water or just a background like I did here I’ll
be demonstrating how I painted the background on this painting towards the
end of the video a couple of things to remember before you start just like the
other washes you need to mix up enough color so that you don’t run out and
you’d be wise to test your colors on a piece of scrap paper first just to see
how they look like when they blend together before you use them on your
painting again it’s always a good idea to use the biggest brush that you
comfortable with for the size of the area that you’re painting okay so let’s
take a look at a very basic variegated wash on my palette here I’ve got some
blue some yellow some orange and some violet when I put the colors on the
paper I’m going to try to keep the complementary colors away from one
another because when they mix together they tend to produce a grey and I want
to try and keep all my colors clean we also need to make sure I’ve got enough
color mixed up for myself so that I don’t run out I’m going to work on a wet
paper and I use my mop brush to put the water on it holds a lot of water and I
can apply it really quickly with this I’ll use this smaller round brush to put
the paint on this is a number 8 Da Vinci Casaneo I’m painting some
water on the paper and when I’ve finished putting the water on I’ll show
you how much is on there I like my paper to be fairly wet when I work but I make
sure I put the water on evenly so here’s the water on the surface you can see
it’s evenly covered and is it glossy Sheen so it’s ready for me now I use
this smaller brush to pick up the blue paint and I’ll paint that across the top
of the wet paper now I’m painting my brushstrokes horizontally just like I
painted the flat wash and the grade of wash that I demonstrated in the previous
videos then I wash the blue paint out of my brush and I dab off the excess water
I don’t want to contaminate the next color with a dirty brush so I pick up
some of the yellow paint and then I overlap this stroke with the bottom edge
of my previous stroke and I keep working my way down the paper I pick up some
more paint when I need it and then I take it all the way to the
bottom now what I have to remember to do is to
remove any excess paint from the bottom and around the edges and I can do that
with my clean damp brush or I can also use a tissue I just need to get that
excess paint off there that one was a basic wash with two colors just to
remind you how it feels to lay a wash down in this next wash that I’m going to
show you I’m going to use three colors and I’m not going to paint them on in
that linear horizontal way I’ll paint some water onto the paper again just
like I did before I’ll use the mop brush because it’s quicker and when it’s got a
good even layer of water over the top I’ll pick up some of the blue paint with
the other brush and I’ll put that on to the paper but this time I’ll paint it in
a more random fashion now I’ll wash the blue paint out of my
brush and I’ll pick up some of the yellow paints and again I’ll put the
paint on in a more relaxed manner so I just put that where I want it and
then I’ll wash the yellow paint out of my brush and I’ll pick up some of the
orange paint I’m just trying to keep those complementary colors away from one
another because if they mix together they’ll create a grey and I don’t really
want a grey on here I just want to keep all my colors pure so now I’m going to
pick up the book and just tilt it so that the colors will move around on the
paper now there’s a fair amount of water on the paper and that’s just allowing
those colors to move tilting it like that just helps to blend the colors
together now you can see some excess paint on the side of the paper there I
need to remove that or it will run back onto the drying paint and cause some
watercolor blooms to form so I just use it don’t brush just to wipe over the top
and just stop up the paint you can see it’s forming there again so I’ll just
keep using this brush and wiping it over the top until all that excess paint is
gone I can also use a tissue just to remove the excess now I can still see a
bit of paint there just because I’m holding the book upright so I just need
to get rid of that alright so I’m just going to lay this down flat so that it
can dry now that they’re dry I can take the tape off and have a look at them and
the two at the top I painted earlier just so that I could have a practice
before I showed you so you can see how those colors have just softly merged
into one another you don’t have to pick your paper up and
tilt it if you don’t want to I just wanted to show you that you can do that
to move the paint around if you don’t want to do that just leave it flat and
let it dry now if you’ve done any of my tutorials you’ll know that I love
creating deliberate watercolor blooms I think they add texture and interest to
your paintings as beautiful as I think they are sometimes they’ll occur when
you don’t want them to if you go back into your wash with your brush and try
to fix things after it started to dry you’re just going to make a mess so
avoid doing that until you’ve got more experience now I want to show you how to
create some deliberate blooms and I’m also going to show you something
that can go wrong with your wash on the top of the page here I’ll paint a wash
and I’ll create some deliberate blooms to show you I’ve shown you this before
but I thought I’d include it here as well now my paper is wet just like it
was before and now I’m just painting some violet on in a loose random sort of
way then I wished the violet paint out of my brush and I pick up the blue and I
do the same thing now as I said I wash my paint out between colors just to keep
the colors pure so then I can tilt the paper and that just helps the colors
blend a little so then I can pick up some more of the
violet and I’ll just put that on as well just in a loose way there’s some more
blue so we just tilt the paper just to help
blend the colors and that also helps to get rid of some of that excess moisture
that’s on the paper that’s why I like to work with the tail underneath me now
because my paper is fairly wet I’ve still got time to come back in with my
brush and do a bit of moving around if I want to if this was starting to dry I
wouldn’t be able to do that I need to make sure the paper’s wet you can see that paint just dripping off
the side there okay so now I have to do the same thing again I just take off any
excess paint that’s still there I can use my brush or I can use a tissue and
then once I’ve done that I just need to let it sit and dry so as soon as I’ve
sucked up that excess moisture I’ll just show you the paint on the paper so here
it is here you can see it’s quite wet papers glossy so that needs to sit and
start to dry and when it starts to dry the sheen will go off the surface so
while it dries I’ll just do this bottom rectangle and I want to show you what
can go wrong so I put the water on with the mop brush give it nice and evenly
covered again now this time I’m going to use some yellow paint do the same thing
I just put it on randomly just in a loose way I’ll pick up some more paint
and I’ll put it down over here in this corner and now I wash the paint out of
my brush and pick up some of the orange just put that on just in a loose way as
well now I can leave it like that and let it
dry flat or I can pick it up and tilt it again so this one I think I’ll just
leave it and let it dry flat but what I have to do is just get this
excess moisture off again so just use my damp brush just to take that off and
then once that’s off I can let it sit and dry so what went wrong with this one
you’ll see a little later but there’s a big puddle of paint just sitting right
here now I neglected to remove it so I just want to show you what will happen
after its dried before I do that I just want to come back up here to this purple
one that I did earlier now because it’s been sitting there it has dried slightly
so I just want to show you what it looks like now so there’s the paint on that
surface it’s still got a sheen but the sheen is not as bright and glossy as it
was that’s starting to dry so now I can drop some water in it to create some
deliberate blooms so just got water on my brush and that just rushes in and
dislodges some of that drying pigment and creates those shapes so here on the
paper wash I’m doing it deliberately but on the orange wash where the excess
paint is sitting it will do it by itself and that’s not what I want sometimes
I’ll use my water spray bottle and I’ll just half squeeze the trigger in and
that just drops some random water droplets just unto the surface and it
does the same thing sometimes I use this little mist bottle and it just puts this
fine spray or a fine mist on the surface and create some texture that way okay so
that one’s dried you can see those lovely shapes there but this one has
also got a water color bloom on it that I didn’t intend and that occurred
because of that water and paint that was sitting in a puddle at the top there
that I didn’t remove so not only look for excess water and
paint on the side of the wash but also look for it on the wash itself if you
see a big puddle of paint then tilt your board and remove some of it off the
paper or if it’s weird enough use your brush to stop some of it back up okay
now I want to show you how to use a variegated wash on a painting I painted
this little rim this week and I put this variegated wash on the background before
I painted it I did a really quick little thumbnail sketch and I applied some
paint to the background just to see what it would look like and when that worked
out okay I went ahead and I painted the background on my painting so I’ll show
you that now I’ve drawn my little rim here on some ash cold press watercolor
board and what I’m going to do now is tape it to a board and then I’m going to
mask off the Rin so that I don’t get any paint on it I’ve taped my paper to the
board and now I’m just applying some masking fluid just over the branch
I’ve put some washi tape which is low-tech over the body of the bird and
then I’ll just use this masking fluid just to fill in the rest as I said I
work fairly wet and I didn’t want to risk splashing some paint on to the body
of the bird so the tape will just stop any paint that I might splash there okay
so I’ve covered everything with masking fluid and now I’m ready to start my wash
so I’m going to put some water on with my big mop brush I’m not going to put
water on the entire board because it’ll dry too quickly so I’ll just do one half
and then I’ll do the other half so you can see I use a fair amount of water
when I do this so you have to work fairly quickly when you’re painting
these washes you need to make sure that or your paint is mixed up ready to go and I’m just going to use my number
eight differentiy kiss an airbrush it’s a bit smaller than the mole
and I’m just going to use some colors that I use on the bird itself so I’ll
start with some Windsor violet and I want this Windsor violet to run behind
the bird in diagonal strip so even though it looks like I’m just painting
the paint on randomly I do have a plan in my head and I also did that little
thumbnail sketch in my journal the other thing I need to be aware of is that I
keep my paint within the boundaries of the water I don’t want to take the paint
all the way to the edge of the water otherwise I’ll get a hard line there so
I’ve got some cobalt blue now and I watched the violet out of my brush
before I picked the blue up I want my colors to be pure I don’t want them to
be mixed on the palette I want them to mix on the paper so I’ll just put some
blue down in this bottom section as well you can see I’m keeping the paint within
the boundaries of the water there I haven’t gone to the edge of where the
water is sitting so now I can add some more water to this other side and I can
continue painting over here so I put it on as quickly as I can because I know
that I have to do it quickly because I don’t want the paper to dry now I’ve got
the violet again so that I can continue that band of color behind the bird and then I can wash the purple out of my
brush and pick up the blue again the other thing I want to try and do is make
the color a bit softer away from the bird so as the color moves out towards
the edges of the paper I want it to be slightly lighter I want most of the
pigment around the bird itself so even though it looks like I’m just slapping
the paint on I am thinking about what I’m doing so now I can pick the board up
and just move the paint a little bit just to get some drips and as I said you
don’t have to lift the board and tilt it you can just let it dry flat just make
sure that there’s no great pools of paint sitting anywhere otherwise you’ll
get those watercolor blooms forming so now I need to make sure that I’ve got no
excess paint or moisture sitting anywhere so I clean up the sides and I
make sure that there’s no great puddles sitting on the paper itself so that’s
how it has dried I’ll just take this tape off the masking fluid and tada he’s
all finished just take this tape off the edge and there he is so there’s that
variegated wash behind him I was really happy with the way my watch turned out
if you want to see how I painted the wren a full length tutorial will be
available on my patreon site very soon the link is in the description of this
video I want to give my patrons a big THANK YOU because I know they’ll be
watching this thanks so much to all of you for your support it’s very much
appreciated so there you are that’s how I painted a
variegated wash I hope you found this tutorial helpful if you did please give
it a like and hit the subscribe button if you haven’t already and I will see
you very soon with a new tutorial it’s always a good idea to use too used it’s
always a good idea to use a couple of things top screw courage I’ll be
demonstrating how I painted the background on this painting hiding mmm
what’s up hiding

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43 thoughts on “How to paint a variegated wash in watercolor.

  1. You are my favorite artist. I could watch you paint alllll day. With your soft & gentle voice giving instruction is the most pleasant of anyone. And your talent is something to be appreciated. I have a question, what type of masking fluid do you recommend?

  2. You are also my favorite artist, Louise, and I have learned so much from you! I always know that when I follow one of your tutorials my painting will turn out well! Thank you so much for all your tips and hard work!

  3. Such an excellent Teacher! Thank you… I've learned more on this one video than in expensive water color classes I've taken in the past! So appreciative.

  4. Thank you so much! This was very helpful in my hope is that you continue to do this because it helps us tremendously. Absolutely beautiful. 🌹

  5. Perfect demonstration of how easy it is to do variegated washes if…. you get rid off your puddles of water πŸ˜‰ Love your cut out scenes at the end as well πŸ™‚

  6. Another great one for this beginner! Thanks to you, my flat and graded washes are much nicer, and no doubt I'll have better luck with my variegated washes now as well. I like the new book!

  7. Beautiful Wren. Looking forward to seeing it on Patreon. Your videos are so amazing. I've recommended you to a few people 😊 Love your bloopers at the end πŸ˜‚

  8. This series has been fabulous, Louise! As always, your detailed explanations & close-up shots make all the difference in my understanding. Thank you & I look forward to the Patreon post!

  9. Hi Louise, I love the way you teach and the way you Paint is very special and Unique!!
    Please don't stop to make videos like that!!I learn sΓ³ much!
    Please do a video explaining all the information the paint have on the label and about a furtive (or fugitive – I don't know the right word) colors.
    I know that's very technical and a little boring, but is very important for beginners.
    Thank you so much and kisses from Brazil!!
    Mila

  10. I ADORE the wren painting, I am a bird fanatic! I really love these tutorials on the basics, they are super helpful!!
    I was wondering, my favorite bird in the world is the Blue Footed Booby, have you ever painted one or WOULD YOU????
    They are such interesting birds and those blue feet are AWESOME!!

  11. You truly present so many useful / necessary tips in the most thoroughly helpful way. I genuinely appreciate the time you take to be so concise.
    Thank you, Louise !

  12. I always look forward to your videos. I do have one question: when using a variegated wash for a sunset how can you go yellow next to blue without getting a green transition? Any suggestions?

  13. After flat wash and graded wash, I look forward to the variegated wash. And now, here it is. 😍 Thank youu Ms. Louise πŸ’–

  14. So I guess, obviously, the bird is painted after the background variegated wash is dry and tape/masking is removed. Would you ever do the bird first, let it totally dry, then wet the background area and do the wash? I'd be terrified the background wash would run onto the bird, but theoretically it should be contained within the wet background area as long as the bird is bone dry?

  15. This was a delight to watch as always Louise. You are so lovely and the most wonderful teacher. Thank you so muchπŸ™πŸ»πŸ’œI have found that sometimes when I use masking fluid a tiny bit may not cover the paper and then my background colour ends up where I don’t want it. Have you ever found this to be a problem? I now tend to carefully wet my paper around my main subject and carefully paint around it but it takes longer. I’m not sure which I prefer as they both frighten me. I am not a huge fan of painting backgrounds and wish I felt more confident.

  16. Hi Louise! Unfortunately I do not speak English but I am happy to listen to your kind voice. I still learn a lot from the videos, if English subtitles were below it, it would help even more. Thank you for posting these wonderful pictures. Best regards, Erika from Hungary

  17. You have helped me so very much. I was a the point of giving up when I found you. Thank you so much for sharing your amazing talent. Thank you for showing us baby steps!!!

  18. Great..do you have a demo showing the painting of the background and the subject, we would like to see how did you achieve the meeting point of background and subject.

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