Hard to believe that February is here. That actually suits me fne. The worst month, January, is over. Now I can start thinking of spring and the garden and planting…
But first I have to get my dried up art process going. February is a perfect month to do just that. I have done several sketches and these two turned out the best. It is Tokala, one of my two beautiful cats, who always remind me of the heather in Scotland.
watercolour pencils and mini TWSBI pen in moleskine, 21X13cm
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 tend to be very boring when it comes to choosing daily outfits. I have only a few favorite outfits in which I feel comfortable, so comfortable that I tend to wear only those. One such a comfy piece of clothing, is this pair of Oxfords, my favorite winter shoes. I wear them with long skirts, with rolled up pants, with jeans, with woolen slacks..they go with everything and they walk everywhere. But don’t make the mistake thinking that I don’t love shoes..oh, I do, I do! It is a bit like art supplies..I want to have it all, thinking I’ll do better art, but in the end, only the basics can do the job. With shoes the same. I want them all, thinking I’ll look prettier, but in the end, only a few succeed in not making me walk around with a tortured expression on my face..back to basics.
Watercolor pencil and watercolor on watercolor block, 18x26cm
I finally completed one koi painting in oil. But before that, I did some more studies in different mediums. I didn’t really enjoy these koi studies as I should have. I felt a bit like ” eating strawberries in the mid winter” and so I feel out of season with the koi paintings and it influenced the “taste”. But I’m happy that I stuck to it and completed at least one painting. I definitely plan to go to the koi farm in summer, where I can seat myself for a day and really get to work on some series.
..koi, oil on linen, 61x37cm
In step 1, using terpentineI put down thin washes of burnt sienna for the fish shapes and a thin wash of paynes gray and french ultramarine for the background/water.
In step 2 I added some colour to the fish, cadmium red and yellow to the fish in the foreground and prussian blue to the back fish, to form the shadows. I started using liquin as a medium to have the oi dry quicker, but still have an oil shine.
In step 3 I darkened the water with a mixture of paynes gray and french ultramarine and softened the shadow marks I made on the yellow fish. this was my first mistake, because I made mud. I left it to dry completely, so I could rework it…the oil was still thin enough to redo without removing the paint.
the last stages was all about adding colour and depth to the fish bodies and depth to the water , while using the same colours I’ve used in the previous steps, with the addition of ochre, raw umber and white.
When doing the studies for this koi project, I worked mostly from photographs, using about 20 different photos, building my own scenes. I really found it difficult to render the koi in an interesting way. I feel I can do better, which is why I will patiently wait for the koi season to open and I can go and study them in real life.
I also felt that they ask for something a little more abstract or expressive than mere realistic rendering. In the following studies I tried to present them on the page in a little more interesting way. I found it quite exciting and I think I can even push the envelope even further in the expressive domain, which makes me more excited about the series of koi than I was when I started out.
In the meantime, I have a lobster and crab and mussels and oysters and several other shellfish in my freezer, waiting to be sketched and painted and studied. Maybe a new series of sea creatures? So hang around if you’re interested in seeing what will surface – it will be a surprise for me too.
…koi study in charcoal on paper, 22x15cm…
…koi study in graphite on paper, 22x15cm…
…koi study in oil pastel on paper, 22x15cm…
Also posted on Watermarks.
A few days ago I painted this corner of the Loire in oil. Unfortunately I fiddled with it afterwards while it was standing on the easel in the atelier to dry, resulting in losing some great first strokes and giving the water this almost “swimming pool” colour. Knowing well I have this addiction, I normally hang a painting immediately on the wall when done and then I don’t touch it…on the easel however, I always see something that needs fixing!
…ombre et lumiére..
I am leaving for Coin Perdu in Correze for about three weeks, which will be sort of a solitary retreat. And since I’m leaning towards oil painting for now, I’ve decided to pack all my oil stuff for some plein air painting for which the opportunities and subjects there are boundless. So I had a stack of boards, in different sizes, cut at my hardware store, and prepared them at home with first a coat of acrylic primer, then a coat of mixed gesso and modeling paste and lastly a coat of gesso. (after the method by David Curtis).
Some years ago I played around with modeling paste on canvases and several other surfaces, as can be seen in the next two paintings. Given a coat of gesso or acrylic primer, it provides a nice textured surface for some expressive work in oil and other mixed media.
…urn 1, mixed media on canvas…
…detail of texture(with modeling paste)..
…urn 2, mixed media on paper…
…detail of texture(with modeling paste)
oil on canvas, 30×30 cm.
…detail of texture(with modeling paste)…