Transparent and opaque washes

This series of exercises explored the use of transparent and opaque paint looking at different ways of applying the paint and the potential uses of each. The first part of the exercise was to create a tonally graded wash and then, working wet-on-wet, merge two colours.

Graded wash using two colours of transparent paint

Graded wash using two colours of transparent paint

Even using wet-on-wet I found that the colours weren’t always merging as smoothly as I’d like with the acrylic drying very fast and the acrylic paper almost creating a resistance to the brush. It was hard to get the colour even and I found myself using a lot of water which was giving me less control of the paint.

 Overlaying washes

The next exercise was to blend the same colours but to wait until the first colour had dried. I did have more control of the paint  but had to work quickly to make the colours blend. Both techniques, using transparent paint, ensure that a luminous quality is retained and worth using for pictures that require that quality of light.

Opaque colour mixing

For this part of the exercise the aim was to attempt to recreate a transparent graded wash using opaque colour mixes.

Graded wash using transparent paint

Graded wash using transparent paint

Using wet-on-wet transparent washes did mean I had less control with the way that the paint blended on the paper. Depending on the effect required this could be frustrating or could take the painting in a new direction – just a case of knowing when to stop and not overwork the piece.

Graded wash using opaque paint mix

Graded wash using opaque paint mix

To recreate the effect using opaque paint I had to work harder blending the acrylic and the result was more solid looking.

Learning Points

  • I liked the luminous, more ethereal quality that I got from using transparent mixes. This could be used for conveying glowing light.
  • Using opaque created a more solid look. Using transparent /opaque in one picture could be useful when trying to convey early morning or evening light or to contrast the light of the sky with the surrounding landscape.
  • Using opaque paint or overlaying a dried wash offered more control but I liked the potential of  chance results by using wet-on-wet which could take a painting in a different direction.
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