© John Salmon.

Tutorial 1. The Gradated Line

The object of this exercise is to gain familiarity with the charger and demonstrate how a tiny amount of paint can be stretched to cover quite a large area. At this stage, it is important to get into the habit of mentally working out how much paint should be on the brush, as it will probably be less than you think.


  • Charger

  • No. 4 ProArte Connoisseur Series 100 Watercolour brush

  • 140lb Bockingford Watercolour Paper

  • Paynes Grey Watercolour Paint pan

  • The Gradated Line

  • 1. Rinse the brush and wipe on tissue with a twisting action.

  • 2. Root-charge the brush. (Just touch the root of the brush on the charging cradle momentarily with a twisting action).

  • 3. Stroke the brush tip across the paint pan 3 or 4 times to tip-charge the brush.

  • 4. Root-charge the brush.

  • 5. Paint a short wavy line approx 1.5 inches long.

  • 6. Root-charge the brush.

  • 7. Repeat 5 but continue where you left off.

  • 8. Continue to charge and paint until you are painting with clean water.

  • The illustration above is approximately the actual size. The stars denote where I lifted and root-charged the brush before continuing to paint the line. Note how smooth the dark to light gradation is, and mentally note how much paint you used to achieve this. If you feel more comfortable painting in a downward direction with dark at the top light at the bottom, then turn your paper to suit your own painting method.

    Because the charging process is fast you will have plenty of time, therefore you can be fairly slow and deliberate while painting this. One thing to remember is to re-charge the brush with water before the brush gets too dry otherwise the gradation from dark to light will not be smooth. If you are still having a problem, work a little wetter than you think you need, by root-charging the brush for very slightly longer.

    You may need to practice this a few times as you familiarise yourself with a new method of painting. After a short while, you will find it really is a very simple and comfortable process. It is important to get this right because it will form the basis for the following exercises.