Painting Wood with Washes
Painting your wood carvings with opaque colors might not always be the effect you are striving for. You can add dimension, while still keeping the integrity of the wood grain by painting with color washes instead. There are just a few simple tips and tricks to consider.
First, wash your carving and paint it while it is still wet. The water brings the grain up to the forefront. Work with water-downed paint that is the consistency of colored water rather than paint. Paint with three shades in mind - light, medium, and dark. Medium is the color that is applied to an overall area. Create the light values by rubbing away areas with a wet cloth removing some of the paint value. Add dark value by adding shadow details with a slightly darker color wash. Make sure your paint values are not too dark or thick when applying so as to ensure the wood grain shows through. Lastly, take care when painting with wood washes in areas that you don't want the color to bleed. Because the paint is more watered down, it has a tendency to bleed more than straight paint.
This color wood wash effect works well to give a vintage effect in wood carved pieces or in human or animal caricature carvings. You don't need to be a full-blown artist to achieve masterful painted effects. Next time, try color wood washes on your wood carving to bring it to the next level.