Realizing a Lifelong Dream

Decorating with Watercolor Landscapes? Learn How Artists Achieve Different Effects

Watercolor is an interesting medium because its fluid nature can be difficult to totally control. For instance, if excess water is placed on a dry section of paper, then the water and pigment can bleed and create a unique texture. While this medium's unpredictable nature gives watercolor paintings their charm, there are still techniques artists use to achieve different effects.

If you are interested in purchasing and decorating your home with some watercolor landscapes, you may find that you appreciate your artwork even more if you understand some of these different techniques.


A wash is any layer of color that is diluted so that the paint is somewhat transparent. Often, an artist will apply a wash across a large area of the canvas to set the color palette of the composition, so to speak. In landscape paintings, washes are often used for skies since they are lighter in color and tend to add depth and push objects—like a faraway mountain—to a painting's background.


Glazing is a technique where artists use multiple layers of washes. It's an important technique to add shadows and form to objects since each additional wash darkens colors and sharpens paint edges. While glazing can be used with one color, some people use washes of two different colors. When you look at t painting with a two-toned glaze, your eyes tend to mix the hues when they intersect. This can create a translucent effect; for instance, if an artist painted a fish underwater, then a glaze could be a great way to show the blend of color between the fish's scales with the surface of the water.


The wet-on-wet technique is where an artist "drops" pigment on already-wet surfaces and lets the colors blend—almost like a tie-dye effect. Wet-on-wet techniques can be great to show bursts of color in a landscape painting, like showing brightly colored canyons.

Dry Brush

When an artist loads his or her brush, he or she will have a mix of pigment and an amount of water as the vehicle for the pigment. When an artist uses a dry-brush technique, he or she will load the brush with more pigment than water—sometimes no water is used. The resulting brush strokes will have a scratchy look, and you may even see the bristles or texture of the actual paintbrush in your landscape. Dry brush is a great way for artists to add grass, soil, and otherwise show "rougher" textures in contrast to smoother wet-on-wet areas.

Now you can pick out which techniques you are drawn to in the watercolors you choose for your home. Contact an art supplier in your area to learn more about Southwest landscape watercolor paintings.