Brilliant Watercolor Washes

watercolor landscape, sunset techniques for beginners, variegated wash,

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,
Graded Wash,


Graded Wash…. a shoreline

painting water, graded wash watercolor techniques,
Water, A Graded Wash




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,
1 Water Wash,




beginner watercolor landscape techniques,
2  Dark to Light, the Sky






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,
Brilliant Flat Wash, cobalt teal blue,




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,
Teaching Sky, Variegated wash 6,




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




Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

42 thoughts on “Brilliant Watercolor Washes

  1. Thank you so much Debi. I am inspired every day by every post. These last two are so exceptional and generous of you to share. Thank you !!!!! Love the yellow and red sky!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. that is GREAT Jodi!!! I’m so glad that some of the info I share, is actually useful and used by people. That is ‘why’ I’m doing this, Thanks Jodi 🙂


  2. I just love that bottom sky. It is amazing, Debi. I may do a sky to post for today, hoping I can make one pretty quickly on 300lb paper. I’ve never tried a sky on this paper before. Thanks as always for your inspirational work and tips. It means a lot to those of us trying to climb up! I hope you’re feeling great and getting rest! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Laura! variegated washes are so fun… esp. when I do about 7 in row!! thats when I get in the groove and whack em out like mad. they only take like 3 minutes each! ((LL))

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Today was a real summer-day, 28 degrees C and I had to stand on a market place outside for hours in the sun to sell some stuff on a fleamarket. I’m totally exhausted now, have a nice day, regards Mitza

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, summer made a little visit for a day and I sold a few things. I fell asleep at 20.00h in my chair, completely exhausted! 🙂


    1. hi Sharon! you’re welcome of course, and I’m happy that you enjoyed them. And perhaps use them to springboard some of your very cool ‘Sharon Art’ from them. Thank you Sharon. 🙂


  3. Thank you for this post, always something to learn and re-learn! Now I need that brush….I am confused about sizes. Are sizes always the same across the board? I have a hard time visualizing how large a brush is by the number. Any explanation or referring info would be nice….I have had a difficult time trying to find out that basic question!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. no, sizes are Crazy different!!! every brand is different. very poor global brush planning, imo. I use #2 mostly… medium small. Isabey squirrel and Raphael squirrel are “similar” to Rekab 320s, but….. short handle. chunky. Rekabs hard to find in US.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thats the Problem Margaret!! you don’t unless you’ve physically seen that brush before. sad. really.
        and yes, the artscene is reliable. it was my go to store when i lived IN sydney, nice people. #2 would work best I think. #1 is smaller – more for 5×7 sizes or so…. they DO last a lifetime. they do take awhile to adjust to the fluid holding capacity. but the TIP!! oh my gosh, is so Fine! i’d only use it in studio, at home. not hiking about… they get ‘lost’ then I cry. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

      2. so….how large is the perl….no….curticle… the whatever you call it….where the brush hairs are wound onto the handle, the width of the base for the #2? I want something that I can paint on a 11 x 14 inch painting. I might keep using my squirrel brush for plein air, so far it is working well.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. the #2 does a 11×14 and smaller quite easily… imo the next size up, could be a bit big and Sloppy/out of control at first. the #2 base is est. (1/2 inch) i’m guessing right now M.
        use what you have! if its not broke…don’t fix it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m going to return over your way for a longer perusal…. and Good on You!! you inspired our lovely Laura (at createarteveryday) to go and get Tony’s book! that is awesome 🙂


  4. This is such an inspiring post – you lead the way in creativity. I really enjoy learning through your explanation, you help me to see through art examples and instructions. Thanks Debi.

    Liked by 1 person

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