Washes For Background

Writing calligraphy over a colored background can give some really interesting and pleasing results.  You can use different mediums, such as faint pastels, colored pencils, gouache or watercolor washes.  The possibilities are endless.

Watercolor Tints For Calligraphy

It is important not to use too much heavy color; this is to ensure your calligraphy stands out over the background.  If you would like to use watercolor washes, you will need to use a heavy-duty watercolor paper.  This ensures that the paper does not buckle or warp while the watercolor wash dries.  If you use heavy-duty paper, you will not need to stretch the paper.  The watercolor paper has an interesting texture to it, though it may be challenging to write over it with a calligraphy pen.  However, if you use felt-tip calligraphy pens, this should give some interesting effects. 

If you prefer a smoother finish, you can use hot pressed paper, which is smoother than the traditional watercolor paper.  Try to experiment with different papers to get desired results.

Applying Watercolor Washes For Calligraphy

To do a watercolor wash, you will need some good quality artist’s watercolor tubes or pallets.  Some watercolors leave a streak; while others give a nice, even finish.  You can mix colors together for a desired tint if you wish.  For a one color wash tint, you will first need to either stretch the watercolor paper, or if you are using a heavy-duty paper, you can simple secure it onto a work surface such as a desk easel or a board propped up at a slight angle.  Secure the paper with either bulldog clips or tape. 

Mixing Color Washes

Use a small clean jar, preferable, a glass one so you can see the paint inside.  Squeeze a very tiny amount of paint into the glass jar.  Gradually introduce some water to dilute the color, mixing it well with a large, soft wash brush.  Use some scrap paper to apply the tint to see how the paint looks like before you apply it onto your watercolor paper.  Apply more water if the color is too strong.  Once you have the desired tint, apply the wash to the paper, in horizontal strokes, working from the top of the paper downwards.  Ensure the last band of paint touches the next band of paint, for a seamless finish.  The board should be propped up at a slight angle to allow gravity to let the paint pool at the bottom of the last band so you can meet the pool with the next horizontal stroke.  Work quickly and swiftly so the paint is not allowed to dry.  The bands of paint should blend into the next.  When you are at the bottom of the page, remove the surplus paint with a dry brush.  Once you have finished applying the wash, leave the paint to dry for a few hours.