Part 1 Project 2 Exercise 1 Tonally graded wash

I have to admit that at the outset  I completely misunderstood the instructions for the tonal wash exercise.  I did stripes of  lines with one brush stroke of gradated colour down the paper – starting with the darkest wash at the top.

incorrect version of this exercise

It was only after doing a couple of pages of this that I realised I should be doing the wash working with my brush across the paper (left to right/horizontal), slowly making the gradation more obvious as I got to the bottom of the page.   Oh well, I now have loads of pieces of paper in various tones and grades of colour that I can use as collage elements!

Correct method of doing the tonal wash … this was my fist efffort

I tried the water-soluble oils after I’d done a few test pieces with acrylics and thought that they would blend easier but not so. 

water soluble oil washes – pyrrole red.. not favourable result

I found it very difficult, to go from a dark red to a pale almost transparent wash at the bottom of the paper – the paint just would not dilute enough or it would sit in a dark band and that was it. I thought it might just be the colour, so i tried permanent orange and I did have a better result. So, maybe it’s just that the pigment in my pyrrole red Cobra water-mixable oil paints needs to be really well mixed with water and made more fluid before doing this exercise.

 My photos above were taken in poor light indoors, so the colours are somewhat already washed out in the photo. But I noticed that the orange over red made for a much more interesting colour shift.

However, I found overall that acrylics seemed to work best.  I know that if I’d used watercolour, the washes would have been almost perfect. However, I have never tried doing washes like this with acrylics before and I enjoyed the results.


blue wash underneath dry, magenta wash over top

I did a lot of versions of the washes for this test, I haven’t photographed them all, as the light is poor and doesn’t show up the colours properly. I particularly enjoyed how the wet-on-wet blending occurred on the paper, especially in the transition area between the two colours.


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