It all comes out in the wash

I am afraid that I have a confession to make….I am really not a “wash” person. I really struggle to “just paint washes” – something does not compute in my left-brain way of thinking. The thought of turning a beautiful sheet of blank paper into a colourful splash of paint without having a specific goal in mind just fills me with dread – I must have an aim, a purpose, a destination, something to work towards.

Ever since I started painting with watercolours by embarking on Bob Davies’ Watercolour Secrets Course – I have had an attitude towards washes. Probably because they never turn out right – I never have enough paint mixed up, so invariably it runs out in the wrong place, or I cannot resist going back to “fix” something. Variegated washes were a little better because I could adjust and switch colours – but uniformity and I do just not get on.

So I tend to cringe when I hear the word “wash” – I want to run away and go back to Paint by Numbers!

Laura introduced me to an intriguing group of artists that set about creating 100 washes over the course of a year – I marvel at their abilities and gaze in awe at the results, and still I cringe.

So you can imagine my dismay, that I discovered while watching the latest Jean Haines’ DVD – Watercolour Passion, that she strongly advocates the use of creating washes, hundreds of the damn things, to get to know the pigments in your palette, to learn how they interact with one another, to build up ideas for future paintings, oh – an endless number of other reasons.

The rebel in me stamped my foot and waved my brush and sulked….and then I had to speak very sternly to myself about the importance of being teachable and open to other people’s ideas and the need to develop and grow in my abilities and to stop being so pathetic and having such an attitude towards washes – I mean, really, it’s just a “wash”, isn’t it? Just pigment and water on paper…..

So after managing to avoid the washes for about another week, I resolved to at least give them a try and to stop being such a sissy. You would think that something so simple, with no specific rules and restrictions would be so easy, wouldn’t you? Well to you they might be, but to me….they’re still my nemesis. I just can’t get them to look, well, beautiful! Don’t worry, I will press on, I will not be defeated, I will conquer, but not necessarily any time soon 🙂

I suppose I reached a major milestone when my brain actually registered that there were things that one could learn from washes – I acknowledge that they are not a complete waste of time…..but…..doesn’t mean I like doing them yet! Or that we get on with each other. Or that I am completely satisfied with the results….


Positive aspects:

1. They are colourful.

2. A good use for the back of other non-satisfactory paintings.

3. It will be a way to learn how the various pigments interact together and respond to additions like cling film and salt.

4. I will learn more about diluting pigment in and water and the strength of the diluted mixes.

5. I can practise brush-strokes and “loosen” up (and stop taking things so seriously!)

6. I will learn to enjoy them!!!!

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~ by Tomorrowslices on April 23, 2012.

4 Responses to “It all comes out in the wash”

  1. I’m finding washes a challenge too at the moment – glad to see someone else feeling the same way 🙂

    • So good to know that I’m not the only one with a “wash” – issue – let me know if you have any “A-ha!” moments regarding washes! Other than that, I guess it’s back to plenty of practice and to keep at it and not give up.

  2. I find them challenging too Dawn, seem to have gone backwards with them but you are right the only solution is more practice!!!

    Enjyed reading this one…. very funny!!!

    • Sometimes we have to see the funny side 🙂 I’m sure you haven’t really gone backwards, even if is seems that way – one of the things that we were reminded of during the workshop was to stop taking ourselves too seriously! Just enjoy the process.

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