Calico Art - Carol Vaage

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Graded Wash - Kathryn Hines


2013 - This was my first watercolour course - Watercolour Sketch Book

One of the best things I ever learned in a course, with Kathryn Hines as instructor, was how to do a graded wash.


  • Good quality paper - 300 lb. (140 dries too quickly for this method)
  • A substantive puddle of water and pigment (enough to do your entire sheet of paper +)
  • A squirrel mop brush, or sable brush that holds a large volume of paint
  • Courage!


  • First, prepare your paper. If it's in a block, it's ready to go. Otherwise, tape the edges on a cardboard or coroplast board.
  • Slightly incline the top. I usually place the top on a roll of masking tape.
  • Using your mop brush, soak up the pigment colour, and lay a row of round, wet puddle line across the top.
  • Bring more pigment up and gently stroke the bottom of the puddle row, but lowering it down a bit.
  • Keep going from left to right, never letting the puddle row thin to nothing.
  • Continue to the bottom of the page.


The image on the left is a cobalt blue graded wash on an 10x14" 300 lb arches paper.

The image on the right is a graded wash introducing a second colour part way down - 8 x 10: 300 lb arches. Note that these were completed vertically.

The colour combos are:

top: cerulean blue to lemon yellow

2nd row: cobalt blue to permanent rose

3rd row: cobalt blue to new gamboge

Bottom row: cobalt blue to cadmium red.

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