Project 2 – Exercise 2: Overlaying washes

In this exercise I will experience difference between wet-in-wet and wet-in-dry overall techniques. Based on my leanings from previous exercise I will use turp instead of white spirit for oil. Further I will use a better acrylic paint (Golden Heavy Body).

A) Oil paint – Wet-in-dry overlay:

Applying same color as previous exercise on dried color gradation

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 2 - oil paint - a

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 2 – oil paint – a

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 2 - oil paint - b

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 2 – oil paint – b



  • It works indeed better with turp than with white spirit
  • It is at times easier to control the transition area (wet/dry). No risk (in case first layer is really dry, what was not always the case here) of lifting previous applied color.
  • Colours are more distinctive with wet-in-dry technique.


B) Experiments with wax pastels (water soluble) in sketchbook:

I was wondering if i could use also other media for this exercise. As I had to stay in bed for a couple of days (illness) I took my A5 sketchbook, my wax pastels and water to experiment. I applied similar a three (rest. four) steps approach:
1. dry applied gradation (no water)
2a. wetting the dry color gradation to obtain a painterly gradation
2b. applying only at the top color pad and wet down with brush and water a gradation wash => this turned out to be more effective
3. after drying applying method 2b. with second color

At the end I experiment a bit with visual perception of complimentary colors (not sure whether they are really complimentary colors or just very close ones)

Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 2 - wax pastel sketchbook

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 2 – wax pastel sketchbook



  • It was fascinated to use a dry medium to make gradation washes. I didn’t use wax pastels in this context before.
  • I tried two approaches for make a gradation wash: Making a full dry gradation first and then wet was not as successful as applying a dry intense color pad at the top and then use water and a brush to wash down from there the gradation. I had more control by doing that.
  • I found that all color combination used worked quite well. Perhaps I didn’t use exact complimentary colors (as from a color wheel, e.g. from Ogden Rood, 1879 in: Gage, 2006)


C) Acrylic paint  – Wet-in-dry overlay::

After feeling better I was ready to move along with my better quality acrylic paint and working in three steps:
1. graded wash only
2. overlay wash with second color (wet-in-wet)
3. overlay wash with second color (wet-in-dry)

For subsequent overal washes in various color combinations I applied only method step 3 as it was more successful and not a big deal with faster drying acrylic paint.


Stefan513593 - Project 2 - Exercise 2 - acrylic paint

Stefan513593 – Project 2 – Exercise 2 – acrylic paint



  • Overlay washes wet-in-wet is hard to control as already experienced in previous exercise. There is just a high risk of lifting already applied paint.
  • Better quality acrylic paint really matters especially on gradation washes. The diluted colors are more intense and saturated.  I assume it is because artist quality paint has a higher pigment content and less binder than studio quality.
  • Through more intense exploration of various colors and combinations I was astonished how each color behaves so different. Like having its own character. Some have as strong tinting power (yellows), some are weaker, some are quite transparent (Quinacridone) and some have a solid dense color (Cd Red).
  • I found now that one combinations do not show ‘nice’ color transitions. E.g Cd Red and Phtalo Blue turned into a muddy grey transition. Hans Yellow and Dioxine Purple showed a brownish transition. I believe this has to do with the position of the color on the color wheel and whether they are more close or opposite to each other. There is a rule that one should mix color that are closer to each other, e.g. greenish yellow with a blue, or a blueish red with a blue to make more color intense mixes.

Overall learnings:

  • Blending wet-in-wet works better oil than in acrylic
  • Wet-in-wet techniques could be useful to create atmospheric images
  • Wet-in-dry techniques could be useful when glazing multi layers more increased color depth or more color subtlety.
  • Wet-in-wet techniques need possibly a different working approach: e.g. with fan brush to blend colors in transition areas

Next time:

  • Experiment more with one image, e.g. color field (Rothko, Xerxes) to explore color washes deeper (see weblog post click here)
  • Managing better wet-in-wet techniques (e.g. dry fan brush)
  • There are other techniques to blend colors, especially opaques color (e.g. color blots randomly applied for visual mixing). I think this will be covered in Ex3.


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