Exercise: Overlaying washes


Tonally graded wash – Cadmium red and violet – second colour onto dry paint

Once your papers are dry, make the same colour mixes only this time paint the second, colour over the dried wash…. 

I noticed that the two colours do not merge together quite so readily when painting the second colour on  a first colour that has dried. The colours look a little more dense.

How could you employ these techniques of building coloured glazes? These could work to portray many features where two or more colours blend together, e.g. sea/water, water on a sandy beach, sky (particularly morning and evening skies), wood grain, perhaps even plants and crops where the earth might show through in varying densities, or perhaps flowers (e..g oil seed rape where there is a bright yellow but delicate  flower on top of strong green foliage or individual flower petals,  cloth  – perhaps silk or taffeta where there is a strong sheen and two-tone effect.

Practise these different ways of mixing transparent colour using a range of pigments that work well. Are there colours that are hard to blend?

I didn’t find any of the colours below hard to blend but now that I think about it, perhaps very dark colours such as black or dark grey might be difficult unless they are very dilute… and now I’m wondering what happens with a second colour of white?









1. Cerulean blue and cadmium yellow

2. Alizarin crimson and cadmium yellow

3. Alizarin crimson and burnt umber

4. Cerulean blue and pale olive

black-whiteTo answer my question above about how black and white would work… I experimented further as below by putting a wash of black on one half and white on the other half on top of Alizarin crimson (dry). The black worked better than the white as the white seemed to mix with the crimson to make pink rather than sitting translucently on top.

Then I made a lot of mess by adding a graded black wash followed by a graded white wash over my colour experiments. It has certainly calmed them down… but it has also, unsurprisingly, made them a little grey and grubby. But it’s interesting to see how a wash of acrylic colour can change the mood.

graded-wash-all-kinds3-alz-crim-burnt-umber-2 graded-wash-all-kinds4-ceru-pale-olive-2 graded-wash-all-kinds-alz-crim-cad-yell-2 graded-wash-all-kinds-cad-yell-ceru-blue-2

 Main learning points

Acrylics can do a lot more than I initially realised. These transparent washes are fascinating  and I am look forward to using them. It feels as though there are endless variations and some slightly unpredictable results are possible depending on the colour mix, dilution, whether applied wet or dry etc, so testing out on a scrap of paper before applying will be wise.


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