What is the purpose of the wash technique?

Washing and glazing are often confused in paintings, as they are ultimately two dilution techniques. However, if the wash is done using a water-based painting technique, the glaze obtained from the oil paint, the gloss of the oil is most likely to create these special effects. Wash is used to refer to the working of a very diluted color rather than a denser work.

What is the wash?

Washes are imaging methods that consist of using only one color in ink or Indian watercolor that will be diluted to have several intensities of color. The handmade black ink stick then provides monochrome shades related to the stand.

Monochrome in ink should not be taken in a purely literal sense. Whites are achieved by the whiteness of the stand or sometimes by increasing the whiteness. The Chinese also use Indian ink sticks of different colors. In other words, the word "wash" is used to show the work made with this process. The use of natural or sepia ink gives the characteristic light brown tone of the old washing inks.


Mountain and river landscape paintings from China, Korea and Japan are the most famous subjects in western East Asia. In Europe, the use of wash by the great classical painters would be primarily a tool for the study of chiaroscuro. The best example is certainly Rembrandt, who chose the wash for all his sketches, or Nicolas Poussin, who created figures with characters that allowed him to choose the desired lighting and then immortalize the scene in wash. The main difficulties of the wash lie in the fact that it does not allow any modification.

Origins of the wash

This technique comes from China, where the decorations of the Song Dynasty were very famous. After that, it was long used in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Indian ink and black ink painting technique called feng shui-mo were used. The term Indian squid has become a popular term in France and it is known as Indian squid in the UK. This should not obscure the fact that ink sticks made by hand in different parts of China, in neighboring countries or even in a single workshop are not made in the same way. These inks have also been made in many varieties. Chinese ink is often displayed in the form of a rigid rod, black or various colors while also controlling the quality of the base fluid.

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