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Watercolour basics and beyond

Part 12 Why rely on tinted papers when you can paint your own background wash? David Webb shows you how



Practise producing background washes

Practise the wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry techniques

How to make the most of your brushes

There are a variety of tinted papers available to the watercolour painter, such as warm cream and sandy colours to cooler greys and blues. However, while these papers are lovely to work on, I usually prefer to add a wash myself if I require a tinted background. In fact, most of my paintings begin with an initial wash, which is allowed to dry before beginning the actual painting.

Why use it?

A background wash can create a particular mood for your painting, such as warm or cool. It can also describe a particular time of day or weather condition.

If you do use a background wash, you’ll find that it influences every part of the painting and has a harmonising effect.

In the painting Summer Evening on the Stour (below) I used a photograph as a reference. Unfortunately, my photo was taken around midday in very flat light. Although the composition was good, with the mirror-like reflections, the light itself was quite bland.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the November issue of Leisure Painter. Aimed at amateur painters, who want to make the most of their painting time, Leisure Painter is the UK's best-selling practical art magazine. Within this issue you will find tips and techniques for filling an illustrated journal and how to set yourself regularly painting challenges. There are painting projects from photographs to try, and step-by-step demonstrations for painting buildings, autumn leaves and landscapes in watercolour; still lifes, wildlife and trees in acrylics; and a detail from a ship's rigging in oils. Learn how to add colour to your sketches, follow a beginner's guide to working with oil pastels, and have fun using new coloured marker pens. Enjoy your month of painting with Leisure Painter.