All About Watercolor Washes #3 The Variegated Wash

Watercolor is all about the washes

The 3rd wash is a mingling of colors applied on the paper. Unlike a flat wash where you strive to achieve a beautiful color from top to bottom or a graded wash where you apply color to the top of the paper and blend it to clear as you paint down the paper, a variegated wash is simply applying  2 or more colors to the paper.

You must remember the principles of color so you don’t end up with a puddle of muddy color. I suggest to start your practicing of variegated washes using 2 colors. I first slightly wet the paper and alow the shine to leave the paper. I do not want too much water on the paper because I will have little control as I apply my paint. Also too much water will dilute the paint and unless I’m looking for the lightest value for my wash I don’t use an abundance of water.

I paint or drop color off my loaded brush allowing the paint to mix on the paper. I control where I want the most color or where I want to leave the white of the paper showing through.




Many times I have no idea as to what I will be painting on these washes when they dry. Sometimes I know exactly what this wash will become later on when it dries.

If I need hard edges I do not wet the entire paper. I wet sections or I use a clean brush to ‘paint’ with water as needed. As in the image below.


Texture can be added at this stage. This image shows the addition of salt for texture.



These images are to show you how a variegated wash can be useful in a painting.



No matter what level of an artist you are, a beginner, intermediate, or advanced  you will benefit and gain confidence by practicing and perfecting your washes. Get out your brushes, paper & paints and have a good time watching the colors mingle & flow across the paper. Pull out the tubes of unused color and squeeze out some of that paint. I find this a great way to better understand what my paints & colors can do when mixed together.

Many days, in my studio, I’m not prepared to start a new painting. This is when I practice my washes and fill my soul with beautiful colors. This is what makes me feel triumphant and brilliant as an artist

Paint with Me






~ by Lorraine Rimmelin on August 29, 2016.

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