Watercolor Graded Washes For Light Effects And Composition

These Are Essential To Watercolor Painting – Practice Until They Are Second Nature!

The Graded Wash

The Graded Wash is should be an essential part of your watercolor painting repetroie.  They are very effective at recreating the look of subtle light shifts that our eyes are used to seeing and that add a sense of realism to any watercolor painting.  Since a graded wash is ever changing, it introduces Variety into a wash or passage – a very important idea in composition.  When combined with other elements, graded washes help set up and draw the eye to the focal point.

Essential Skills

Graded washes are all based on the Wet-In-Wet watercolor painting technique.  In this case the color, or colors, are worked into the wet wash to create graded – or gradual – changes from one thing to something else.  It is important to get a good handle on both the general Wet-In-Wet  wash and the specifics of the Graded Wash.  Both are essential skills for the watercolor painter.

These washes create beautiful and expressive passages in your painting. Even better, they are without peer when it comes to representing the subtle effects of shifting light that occur all around us in the natural world.

What You’ll Need

  • Brushes – Large, Medium and Small Rounds
  • Paint – Cadmium Red, Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue
  • Paper – a sheet of Watercolor Paper about 7″ x 10″ – Arches 140lb Cold Press is recommended


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