Gorgeous bright, smooth silky  blends of color and tones.

Watercolor Washes…. Its in the brush I’m using!!  #worldwatercolormonth



3 Watercolor Washes

The 3 Major watercolor washes I’ve shown today are the Graded Wash, Flat Wash and the Variegated Wash. Each plays a wonderful role in watercolor landscapes and still life paintings.




Graded Wash

Gradation of Tone.  ie   going from darker to lighter or vice versa.

(in watercolor using more water makes the tone go lighter, less…and it goes darker.)


These  Graded Washes are wonderful in the landscape for skies, water, roads, rivers, trees, mountains.   This is a great Tool to learn!

watercolor beginner landscape technique, graded wash, debiriley.com
Graded Wash, debiriley.com


Graded Wash…. a shoreline

painting water, graded wash watercolor techniques, debiriley.com
Water, A Graded Wash debiriley.com




These 2 following images are the exact same image.

But they are merely turned upside down to create  what could be seen as “water”    in the first,   and  “sky”  in the second.

And, in fact in the painting – I have done so.

I’ll show the painting in an upcoming post.


The wash  exercise  is on dry paper, with a Subtle, minimal tonal changeover.

Taking care to  manipulate the Rekab brush around “swirls”  that might be Clouds, or maybe my water patterns.

watercolor techniques painting water, debiriley.com
1 Water Wash, debiriley.com




beginner watercolor landscape techniques, debiriley.com
2  Dark to Light, the Sky debiriley.com






Flat Wash

I need a brush that holds fluid.  That will sweep across the paper like a snow skier downhill…smooth. Silky.    Rekab 320s.



A Flat Wash is normally great for areas of neutrality.

Areas that are Non-Busy.   ie  not the focal point;  but perhaps, into the far distance.


watercolor beginners techniques, flat wash, cobalt teal blue pg50, debiriley.com
Brilliant Flat Wash, cobalt teal blue, debiriley.com




Variegated Wash

This color combo is great for (sunsets, flowers, reflections) other color combos would create other subjects.


I painted a paler yellow at the horizon, mid tone in middle, oranges; into darker scarlets towards the top – creates the feeling of – Depth



The irregularities within…. are handy.

They create movement.

They lessen the  too  ‘stiff, static’  feeling  of a   ‘perfectly’  executed wash.

ie   Accidents,  can be Assets

watercolor landscape, sunset techniques for beginners, variegated wash, debiriley.com
Teaching Sky, Variegated wash 6, debiriley.com




Papers used: Arches and Saunders Cold Press.

Colors used: cobalt teal blue, prussian blue, winsor lemon, permanent rose, white gouache.

The Brush used to create the washes:  Rekab 320s.

I used this brush,  mainly,  because I want a  silky smooth blend.  Especially on my Flat Wash.   I don’t want streaks, or blotches.  It might just  ‘annoy’ me a wee bit !


Yesterday’s 10 Great Watercolor Brush Tips was quite long, but describes and illustrates a variety of common watercolor brushes.    It is one I would recommend beginners read.




This is a unique post. But it is a Learning Exercise based theme, so….

In this post,  I decided to make several of my “Wash” images available to my readers, free for you to study, paint from and learn from as teaching tools.


I felt that these specific washes would be really handy for the beginner watercolor people to practice.


These Washes will give you great skills – especially in watercolor landscapes.  Plus,  its great to be able to create any of these,  whenever you need or want them!





suggested reading

Watercolor Basic Tips 

Beginners Watercolors, 10 Tips to Get Started 

Watercolor Secrets  

watercolor 3 Types of Edges Used