Two-Tone Gradient with Kyria Smith

Two-Tone Gradient with Kyria Smith

Kyria Smith, one of our Fuel Your Creativity artists creates a wide range of mixed media art. She often uses gouache to create stunning gradient backgrounds in her artwork. Kyria demonstrates how to create a simple, two tone gradient using Gouache Paint, Arteza Flat Paint Brushes, and Watercolor Paper (or Mixed Media)

Supplies Needed:
  • Gouache Paint
  • Flat Paint Brushes
  • Watercolor/Mixed Media Paper
  • Palette of your Choice
  • Washi Tape/Painters Tape
  • Water Cup
  • Paper Towel (Optional)


First, tape off the edges of your paper so that you don't have to worry about your paper moving around or coloring outside the lines. Kyria uses washi tape because she finds it doesn't tear the paper. Next, pick out your paint brushes and paints. It is easier to choose a paintbrush for each color, so you don't have to worry about washing your brush in between colors. For this demonstration, Kyria is using Arteza Flat Watercolor brushes. 

Add your colors of choice to a palette (Kyria uses the colors Pastel Coral and Pastel Cheese Puff from our Blossomy Pastels Gouache set; however, use whatever colors you have on hand.) Kyria prefers to use a flat palette because it makes blending easier, but any palette will do as you won't be mixing your colors before application. Lastly, add enough water to the gouache to thin it out and ensure the paint isn't runny. Gouache dries down opaque, and Kyria doesn't want this gradient to be transparent.  

Tip: When adding water, try to achieve the consistency of runny yogurt or melted ice cream. 


Start applying broad, even strokes across the page, starting at the top (Kyria uses Pastel Coral here). Sweep your brush back and forth until you get a nice consistent layer of paint. Next, switch over brushes and grab the next color (Pastel Cheese Puff) and start creating those strokes from the bottom, moving upward to meet the other color. Once you are at the other color, start overlapping them. Make sure you are also blending the top color into the bottom color so you're creating a seamless, gradient blend.

Apply the two colors as needed until you are satisfied with the gradient. It helps to work quickly to maintain a wet edge between the two colors. You can work the gradient as long as you want, as long as the paint is still wet. If the paint does dry, you can go over it with the two colors and blend them again, creating more vibrant results. In this demonstration, Kyria did end up going over the gradient again.

Gouache is pretty forgiving with layering as long as the bottom layer has dried. When working on a large piece, Kyria try's to get the gradient down quickly, but there is no right or wrong. Kyria reminds herself, "part of the process of creating is knowing when something is good enough to move on." Once the paint is fully dry, carefully remove the tape. If you pull diagonally, it is less likely to rip the paper. 

Tip: You don't have to wipe off the tape, but Kyria uses a paper towel to clean as much as she can, so it's less messy when she takes the tape off. 

Now you can create vivid, gradient backgrounds for your next work of art! Make sure to share your gradients and all of your artwork with us on Instagram. If you’d like to see how Kyria transforms these backgrounds with linework, click here


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