Flashcard Friday-A Wash.

Creating a wash, or in the case of this flashcard in particular, a wash gradation in two colors, is both easy and fun. The challenge is to prepare your work surface with everything you need so that when it comes time to paint your wash, you can quickly grab whatever you need. I like to use a wide, cheap, bristle brush to lay the paint down. There are elegant brushes for this purpose, but I don’t own one.

On this journal page, I combined gradation wash with the use of paper frisket, (a flashcard for another day). There are some techniques that  can or should be used in combination with other techniques. You can do a wash on the page to lay color down-then start working the page, or you can mask an area and paint over it, reserving a portion and coloring the ground. It is up to you.

On another note, I have been speaking with Diana from M. Graham paints. Diana has been gracious and is answering some questions about her paints and we wanted to share information with you. M. Graham are my paint of choice in all mediums-watercolor, gouache and acrylic. I started using her paints because the gouache formulation is such that it can be parsed out in a travel palette and allowed to ‘dry’. Not all gouache can be rewet, but M. Graham paints can. This is a boon for artists like me, who enjoy painting on the go!


Diana, I have been using your paints for a few years, I was turned onto them by Roz Stendahl, a blogger and artist whom I greatly admire. The selling point for me was the fact that you use honey in your formulation and that your gouache paints do not use opacifiers-making them able to travel in a travel palette. Will you talk about this? Why honey? Why no opacifiers?

The gouache story is that “designers” gouache that most people are familiar with was created for fashion, etc. designing. The artwork was created, reproduced and discarded.  Because the original art was not to be retained, the permanency of the color was not an issue.  Many of the hues are purples, reds and fluorescents which are available in beautiful pigment or dyes-few  of which are lightfast.  We chose to use the same pigments as our other lines (all rated lightfast I or II except Alizarin which remains by popular demand).
While gouache is like watercolor (and can be thinned and used as washes), the usual application is a thick, flat layer or layers.  This requires a media that is film forming and resistant to cracking.  The use of honey in ours creates a more flexible film and better adhesion.
Most brands add chalks or whiteners to make the color opaque.  While some prefer this in design work, it detracts fro the brilliant liveliness in a fine art piece.  We chose to leave the mixing to the artist so either technique can be used.  Each color is as opaque as the pigment allows.  Some colors, like Quinacridone Red, are like layering transparent colored glass trying to get opacity.  No matter how much pigment you add, it is simply more transparent by nature than other pigments.
Some watercolorists apply transparent watercolor thickly, straight from the tube.  Our watercolors are formulated for more traditional dilution and application and they may not dry if painted out thickly.  For this technique, the gouache is the perfect solution.
I’ll try to talk about honey next.

One thought on “Flashcard Friday-A Wash.

  1. Interesting! I always wondered why there was watercolor and gouache. It seems a shame the art produced for fashion is disgarded. Perhaps some dumpster diving in the fashion district would be a fun outing.;)
    My experience with watercolor and gouache is still in its infancy, but this week I used some Cotman’s that I had purchased (silly me) and my little sampler of M. Graham. What a difference! Even the beginning process of wetting and creating a palette was easier with the Graham, but the vibrancy is what I noticed the most.
    Thank you so much for the flash card on washes. I have been experimenting, practicing for 3 days and washes were really iritating me. I was painting around the subject matter and would end up with lines where the paint dried, so no pretty washes – more like dried puddles. More practice today!


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