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Splashes, splotches and spatters in aquarelle.

I have been asked so many times how I do my splashes and after another request from Sophia, I thought I could do a pôst to explain how I splash ans splotch. have forever been doing splashes in my watercolor paintings and sketches. I paint and sketch with a big brush and loads of pigment and water and the splashes almost happen all by itself on my page. There are times though that I use splashes to emphasize or create a certain effect or atmosphere. It all depends on the sketch or painting.  I notice that it has become very fashionable in the sketching world to use splashes which is great. But sometimes a sketch can look out of sorts with splashes, which either don’t fit the style of painting or the subject doesn’t ask for splashes, and so it appears on sketches just because it is fashionable. I love my splashes, but I don’t use them every time and with every subject.  I would like to see that watercolor work  show more discretion when using splashes, before it ruins an already perfect watercolour painting or sketch.

Old french bowls 1…without any splashes. This sketch was done using watercolor, watercolorpencils and white gouache. I overworked the sketch somewhat, so the bottom bowl started losing its shape.

Old French bowls 1-001

Old French bowls 2, without any splashes. Mixed media – watercolour, watercolour pencils and white gouache.Old French bowls 2-001

Old french bowls 3, with blue splotches and 1 red splash which I added simply to “accompany” my signing). I used only watercolour and pen for this sketch

Old French bowls 3-001

Old french bowls 4, with brown spatters on the right side, dark red splotches at the bottom and 1 lilac splash(for my name). In my opinion, on this sketch, less spattering or even none would have been fine, I added the spatters etc for demonstration.

Old French bowls 40002-001

When working in watercolor, I use only one brush, usually my Rosemary sable 12. My splashes are done right at the end with the same brush. Depending on the subject and the atmosphere I want to add to my sketch/painting, I choose from 3 different types of splashes. I call them for my own use, splashes, splotches and spatters.

*Splotches are the small, smaller then the splashes, but bigger, but bigger than the small spatters. To get these dropletys, I load my brush a fair amount of water and colour and hold the brush up straight while I shake the brush in quick upward and downward movements to release the droplets.


*Spatters are those tiny droplets that sometime happen a line or a curve. I get them by loading my brush with not too much water and then flick my finger on the brush to spatter the colour, which most of the time, are small droplets which end up in a line on the paper.

SpattersSplashes are the large round drops dropped from a high distance above the paper. I fill the brush with color and water, stand up over the paper to keep my eye on the spot I want to drop a splash and press the brush at the tip to form a drop which splashes on the paper.

SplashesI have chosen some of my sketches to show the effect of leaving out splashes or adding them.

To illustrate some of my splashes and splotches etc, here are some of my previous work.

Two Siberian iris sketches – Left: Only 2 big splashes. The line work and minimalist appearance of the sketch doesn’t welcome tiny spatters of colour, it would only distract. Right: The more loose watery interpretation allows for some large splashes as well as some spattering. It adds to a frivolous interpretation and could suggest  picking of the irises, blowing in the wind, petals falling…movement.

iris reticulata iris reticulata-001

Some more examples of where splashes work and where not:

In the bottom sketch, splashes don’t belong..it is already a very busy sketch with lots of information.

Le Pescher Maison 6466x4910

The sunflower just asks for some splattering…suggesting bees working, pollen blowing in the wind, petals falling off… movement.envelope to vivien0001In the sketch below, I used only a green splash and blue splotches to suggest sky and leaves and I like the effect of stark lines with the contrasting wild bursts of colour.

bretnoux la post

I hope this explained a bit my thinking and use of splashes, splotches and spatters.

Until next time


Spain sketches 3

This will be the last post on Spain sketches. Next will be a post on the splatters I make hat I promised a while back.

 man sleeping on deck chair

watercolor and prera pilot penspain sketches 7

..beach scene..

watercolor and pentel brush pen

spain sketches 10

spain sketches 11

..around the pool..

watercolor and pilot prera pen

spain sketches 2..a bientôt..


Spain sketches 2: Beach.

The biggest drawback of this Spain holiday was that I couldn’t swim. Something I love. Thus I was confined to the beach bar where I sat and watched others swim. And I sketched.

spain sketches 20Because of the heat I drank the one glass of water after another with every now and then a delicious, freshly squeezed fruit juice. I ran through that whole menu. The thing I completely forgot about that first day on the beach, was that all that fluid needed to go somewhere. I realized that with a shock sometime during the day. I looked down the “boardwalk,” seeing the single “cabine de toilette” winking at me way over there at the entrance to the beach.  I looked at the wheelchair next to me, buried under a mountain of stuff. I looked at my crutches and down at my blistered and calloused hands. I looked at my family who were bobbing specks in the water. I felt desperation clouding over me like a tsunami from which there is no escape.  I started praying. For what I don’t really know, because there wasn’t any superhuman intervention that could change my situation. Physiology all by itself is already a wondrous complexity. But I prayed anyway and decided to give  2 minutes to some kind of miracle to find its way towards me. After  2 seconds I decided the only only way to solve this problem is the old fashioned human way. I carefully got up from my chair, all the while trying to do it speedily. Care and speed, those were the keywords. I looked across the beach to the water and “miraculously” mon cheri made his way to the beach bar. I signaled him with fierce intimidation to move his butt! Somehow I got into the wheelchair and we made it down the boardwalk to the “cabine” without me flying from the chair “en route”. Close to the cabin I stared down everybody who just thought of going ahead of me with a look that clearly stated: “Don’t even think about it for I will run you down”, while waving my crutches into the ready-to-use position. Before we came to a stop I pirouetted onto the crutches and into the cabin, didn’t even lock the door and shouted from the inside all kinds of instructions to mon chéri. There was no trace of my usual grace and inhibition and dignity left. Human was all I could be at that moment

spain sketches 5 spain sketches 8 spain sketches 9 spain sketches 12 spain sketches 13 à bientôt


Spain sketches 1: Xiringuito, Canyelles platja.

I had the greatest holiday on the costa Brava in Spain , broken leg and all. My family decided a wheelchair is the way to get around effortlessly and although I complained loud and clear, I have to admit they were right. I could of course only sit at the “xiringuito” (beach bar) and sketch the world around me, while friend and family were out on the beach, in the water, snorkeling, sailing. But that is OK, I will get my turn next year.

the sketches are all done in situ and there will be blotches all over, because I turned pages while the paint wasn’t completely dry. a lot of mistakes too, which stayed on the pages, since I did everything directly in pen and just sketched over the mistakes. As you can see, my sketchbooks aren’t perfectly beautiful…too many blops and bloops!

xiringuito, Canyelles platja

spain sketches 15elderly lady on the couch at the xiringuitto, typing away on her tablet.

spain sketches 3

a couple on the couch, taking a break from the sand and  sun spain sketches 4

a young lady, very prettily coiffed and made-up, with matching purse, waiting for her drink spain sketches 6-001à la prochaine


A selfportrait.

I broke my leg a week ago. Played ball with Lindiwe, our young German Shepherd girl and slipped when running down a hill and I just heard that bone break when I hit the ground. Now my leg is up to the knee in a cast and I am on crutches.

..selfportrait of poor me ..

dip pen and black ink in Daler rowney sketchbook, 21X29.7cm

selfportrait broken legThat is the worst…these crutches. They frustrate me beyond belief. The first few days it felt like someone on either side of my arms were pulling me apart across my chest and my leg carrying the weight felt like it was carrying a freight ship. I moved like a hiccup…in short jumps, trying my best to take a painless step forward. Each time someone tried to encourage me or applaud my effort, I felt like whacking them with the crutches. If I didn’t desperately need both crutches, I probably would have done so. I have never broken anything. Sure, many stretched or torn muscles because of sport, but never a broken something. So using these crutches was for me, the ever impatient one, a miserable punishment. But I just had to picture people less fortunate who live like this every day of their lives, and I would get up, let go of the feeling-sorry-for-myself-upper-lip and get moving.

My daughter told me to do a selfportrait of miserable-me during this time. And so I did. And it was the perfect way of taking a step back and end up laughing at myself and be grateful that it is only a broken leg.

..my children decided the white plaster is far too boring, so we decorated it a bit with a black marker..

broken leg

My next post will be on splashes, splotches and splatters. Keep an eye out if you are interested in seeing how I splash and splatter paint on paper.

à bientôt


Resketch the gargoyle and fountain.

I wasn’t satisfied with the gargoyle sketch 2 posts ago and even leaving it to the art fairy didn’t help. In fact the more I looked at it, the worse it got. So today I decided to redo it. I am still not in heaven about the sketch, but at least it is a bit better and I am tired of that spot in the garden. I suppose you can’t win all the time.And now I have to move on.

Gargoyle fountain

watercolour and dip pen with black ink in daler rowney sketchbook, 21X29.7cm

gargoyle and fontain

Two more garden corner sketches in watercolour.

I sat myself in the same  spot outside on the terrace as yesterday and did 2 more sketches . I have now almost made a complete 360 degrees turn and sketched what I saw in front of me. This time I faced the house and sketched one of the two comfy chairs under the kitchen window on the terrace. The chandelier hanging under the grapevine was next with the crystals catching the sunlight and flashing in all the colours..I can’t do it justice, but I remember it.

comfy chair on the terrace

watercolor and nib pen with blck ink in Daler rowney sketchbook, 21X29.7cm

chair on the terrasseChandelier hanging under grapevine

watercolor and nib pen with blck ink in Daler rowney sketchbook, 21X29.7cm

cchandelieron terrasse0001


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