Christine Orcutt Henderson
artful creativity happens


Washes and Long Lines

Watercolor painting can be fun, fast, and super creative. The spontaneity of colors, shapes, composition, and light is intrinsic to the medium.  Watercolor can be fun to play with simple washes. A wash is a broad even stroke of color devoid of lines. It is usually flat. I like to do these in two colors. I create wash paintings when I am working out colors for a larger piece that I am not sure which shades to use. 

Sometimes it is a challenge to get the colors completely flat and other times I am looking to leave just a little bit of white paper to give interest. This technique is also great to create water or ocean scenes. The white spaces end up looking like rippling waves. White space is ok in a watercolor painting. Watercolors are inherently emphasizing light – too many layers, or too much color-mixing, creates a muddy outcome. It is better to let them stand in the light and hold their own instead of bogging them down with layers of heavy values to create the image. 

A simple analogy to remember: If you put too many clothes on the line, the line will sag, nothing will dry, and they will get dirty from the ground. It is the same thing with paint – too much paint equals a muddy picture. 

Christine Henderson