How to Paint a Watercolor Wash

By its nature, watercolor is willful and notoriously difficult to master. It blooms like a flower on paper, like a plant growing beyond the confines of the sidewalk. So, to render her architectural structures in watercolor, much less to master painting a straight line with it, is quite difficult. This is part of the reason Amy Park (featured in The Artist’s Magazine, September 2010) enjoys watercolor so much: the challenge of controlling the roving medium and painting objects so completely rigid and strong.
Amy Park demonstration, watercolor wash, paint flat watercolor wash

Watercolor Wash Demonstration

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

1. Cover the area to be painted with a thin and even layer of clean water.

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

2. Load your brush with paint and start laying the pigment onto the wet area of the paper.

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

3. Cover the entire area with paint. Make even brushstrokes across the paper.

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

4. Without adding water or paint to your brush move the paint in the opposite direction. For example if in step 3 you are painting left to right and right to left, change the direction and move the paint top to bottom. You can do this 2 or more times.

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

5. Gravity is your friend. Carefully tilt your paper to move the pigment from the top to the bottom. Again, change directions and tilt your paper the other way. This can be done to even out the paint and the water without using your brush.

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

6. Drips like the one seen in this image can be absorbed into the paper without causing any harm to the wash. Keep tilting the paper as instructed in step 5.

how to watercolor wash demo amy park

The dry example of a flat wash.

Amy Park
earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has won several awards, including the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation Artist Residency in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in numerous group and solo exhibitions in the United States, and overseas in Germany, Brussels and England. She teaches drawing and watercolor at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. Learn more about her at her website,

Lisa Wurster is a freelance writer, editor and proofreader living in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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The September 2010 Issue of The Artist’s Magazine

Click here for a peek at the table of contents for the September issue of
The Artist’s Magazine.

Click here to learn about the digital download of the September issue of
The Artist’s Magazine.


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