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 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 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.
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.
Splashes 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.
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.
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.
The sunflower just asks for some splattering…suggesting bees working, pollen blowing in the wind, petals falling off… movement.In 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.
I hope this explained a bit my thinking and use of splashes, splotches and spatters.
Until next time
I still have 2 days left to capture some bulbs. Not that it means we are in spring. On the contrary, with snow forecasts for this weekend en cold to the bone weather and the fire burning high in the fireplace, it is everything but spring. Inside my barn though, I have forced bulbs everywhere and tulips in vases. Nothing can stop me from bringing some spring inside.
I used lots of different mediums and styles, just simply playing around, messing around. I enjoy working with gouache, I don’t do that enough, so it was great to do some sketches with gouache today. the last image is one of the gouache sketches..but I ruined it of course with that enormous name I signed…tried to be too artistic…
..contour lines with black Lamy safari pen on Fabraino watercolor block HP, 18×25.5cm
..watercolor and J. Herbin ink, café des iles in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Epsilon series, 14×21.6cm
..watercolor and in Stillman & Birn sketchbook, Alpha series, 22.9x15cm
..gouache and black Lamy safari pen on Fabriano watercolor block, HP, 18X25cm
I have a tendency to become tight the more I work. It is just one of those inevitable things. So I often have to change mediums and styles and experiment in other ways to loosen up again. I have notice with my sketching that I have become tight again. Normally I would change to oils and go do some plein air which helps, but with the bad weather, I had to divert to other options. As I was watching the horses walking all over our well the other day, I saw a contrast of grey sky and a line of white lace flowers and the green fields and it stirred the desire to put that onto paper by using the opaque gouache, a medium I quite like, exactly for its “experimental” qualities. It opens up possibilities to take it further into oils.
The following gouache experiments were all done in sketchbooks
After sitting outside, I moved in, bringing in some of the woildflowers now in seaspon and trying to create the broad bands of colour..the greens, the blues and of course the shapes, not worrying too much about authenticity. It was all just about colour and application with a loose wrist and finally some line squiggles, which I always love. For the dark lines I initially used inks, but it didn’t work too well on top of the gouche, so I used a dark mixture(which I alwyas use in oils for black) of Burnt unber, alizarin crimson and french ultramarine which always gives a rich dark black.
with this experiment, I used the gouache much more diluted to get more “wispy” horizons as a back drop for the lace flowers. Well, I don’t know what those funny linework at the bottom is all about, but at the time I felt in the mood for it.
This was a lot of fun and really something I will explore deeper, maybe on much lager scale with oils..and added animals…Many options in fact.
My very late postcard to Bridget consisted of geraniums, done way back when it was still summer.
-pen and watercolour on watercolour paper-
..summer geraniums in gouache and pen, on handmade paper..
Our post card exchange has now come to an end, sadly, but maybe we have something new in the pipeline.
I sent Desiree horse sketches ..she and her family had horses at an earlier stage. Our two Comtois horses were my models and the sketch on the envelope I did from one of those sketches.
gouache and pen on envelope
Gaitchi and Gubi
done with pitt artist pens in sketchbook
For my postcard to Pat, I was in Vayrac, handing in all my old linen to be washed and went for a coffee. Afterwards I looked over the rooftops and realized I haven’t done such a postcard yet. So there. The rooftops of Vayrac for Pat.
..rooftops of Vayrac(envelope)..
done in gouache and pen
..rooftops of Vayrac..
done in pen and watercolor on Daler and Rowney watercolor paper CP, 25,4×17,8cm
My August postcard to Charlene – 1150 words was done on walk around Coin Perdu. At the moment the berries are plentiful and the birds are having a ball.
I chose to do the drawing of berries for Charlene on some papyrus. I love old papers, old scripts, old books, old letters …it has a charm that we don’t find anymore in our contemporary life. The papyrus is definitely not easy to write or draw on and I have a renewed respect for the patience and dedication , not forgetting the love someone puts into a beautiful writing. I’m thinking here of my friend Dana…drop by Ginger parasol to see the beautiful cards she designs and writes!
..watercolor and pen on papyrus…
…some berry sketches of previous posts…