Graded Wash: Exercise for Flower Petals (Video)

Here we will practice the graded wash technique in order to get ready to paint the Rosa canina flower. The graded wash is an essential watercolor technique and it takes some practice to get a feeling for it. It is always a good idea to have a practice sheet to work on before painting directly onto your composition, if you are working up to a more finished looking artwork. If you are working in a sketchbook, then experiment away.

Materials: The pigments used here are optional, as it is a warm up exercise. I would recommend that you try out some of your pink pigments to find out which one matches your specimen the best. Or if you are painting a different colors flower, try out different versions of that color to find a suitable match.

Pink Pigments I have experimented with are: Permanent Rose, Magenta, Quinacridone Magenta.

Of course you do not need to run out and buy all of these, but try out what you have! Alizarin crimson can be a little bit too dark for very light pinks like with this flower. Here is a really interesting article by the paint manufacturer Winsor & Newton about various pink pigments, including their psychological effects: “Pink has an interesting place in science and psychology. In the late 1960s, the scientific researcher Alexander G Schauss discovered that a particular shade of pink – P-618 – had a highly calming effect on the human endocrine system.


Lightfastness: The permanence of a pigment, or its ability to stand up to fading when exposed to light.

Fugitive: A pigment that is not lightfast. It will fade over time, particularly when exposed to light. For example, Opera Rose is a fugitive pigment.

To go even deeper into the topic of lightfastness, another very interesting article with video from Winsor & Newton. A rating of lightfastness, or permanence, for their own pink pigments is also provided.