Smooth watercolour washes without the stress

Trying to paint a large area with smooth watercolour so you don’t get any hard line edges can be STRESSFUL.

You have to work quickly and that can feel panicky.

One false move and it’s GAME OVER.


Or is it?

In this tip video I wanted to show you my preferred technique (I know there are others out there!) for stress-free, oh-so-smooth, watercolour washes:

If you’d like to try your hand at the Magnolia in the video it’s available in my online School.

Do let me know in the comments below if you’ve come a cropper with a big smooth wash before, share that pain!!

Wishing you calm and enjoyable painting,

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  1. Irene Boogerman on June 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    That was a lovely demo, enjoyable to watch and to learn from.

    And really brave to stick on so much masking fluid – did you dilute it at all to make it easier to remove without taking the surface of the paper off?

    • Anna Mason on June 18, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      No – but I did make sure the fluid was fresh Irene as I think this makes it behave better and peel off more easily. Hope you’re well!

  2. Anne Cremer on June 18, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    I’ve only tried hot pressed paper once and fond it to be very difficult. Now that you say you usually work on hot pressed paper I’m dying to try something else – something where I can use a small brush and hopefully emulate your delicate style. (If only!) Anne (Johannesburg)

    • Jane on June 18, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      I didn’t realize that you were using hot pressed paper, either. Very much explains at least in part, how you get this much sharp detail. Really glad I saw this video – would have been very frustrated on the cold-pressed paper that I have been taught on, I’m thinking!

  3. Al Vesselli on June 18, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Anna – Wonderful tutorial! Well, I think all your tutorials are great.

  4. Linda on June 18, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Great tutorial on how to paint a nice background. Yes indeed, I have come a cropper many times painting backgrounds.

  5. veena on June 18, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    hi Anna,
    I always thought that cold pressed paper gave a patchy effect well, thankyou for the tutorial, i shall try the method hope it comes as good as yours!

  6. Jean Chang on August 31, 2018 at 5:27 am

    Your work is so lovely! Thank you for this helpful tutorial.

  7. Susan on August 31, 2018 at 9:59 pm

    What an inspiring video Anna. Certainly will attempt this. Thanks.

  8. Teresa Tipton on August 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    I am in awe of how easy you make watercolor painting look! I have always been scared of background painting and often seem like I ruin the painting when I attempt them. I am only on my second tutorial but can see an improvement in the realism I am able to achieve using your method. Thank you!

  9. KB Ribelin on March 31, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    Anna, great tutorial on how to get a seamless background! What would you do if you wanted a bit of background that faded out from just around the subject you’re painting? Or vice versa, where the sun and brightest color is directly behind the subject and the background is darkest on the farthest edge and blues into no background. Please let me know if this doesn’t make sense. 🙂

  10. Marilyn on March 31, 2020 at 4:06 pm

    Hi Anna,
    What brand of masking fluid do you prefer? Is Friskit the same thing?
    Thank you. The video was very helpful with my backgrounds!

    • Anna Mason on March 31, 2020 at 9:06 pm

      I was using Winsor and Newton and I’ve used Jackson’s own brand. I think the main thing is for it not to have got too old. I believe frisket is the same thing yes 🙂

  11. Marion Denby on April 1, 2020 at 10:49 am

    Very helpful thank you Anna working my way through tutorials

  12. Joan Simpson on April 1, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Anna,
    I enjoyed your magnolia watercolor video. It was such a nice share. Stay safe and healthy! Hug.

  13. […] To paint the blue sky background (it’s easier than you think), see my video here. […]

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