Abstract 102316

I began with an earth-tone wash, using my transparent iron oxide pigments.  I tried ‘highlighting’ certain parts of the composition with a darker pigment. I should have used it a bit more sparingly. I used gouache to trace some of the patterns made by the interactions of the washes, and the more pronounced contours. I washed a second time, covering some of the gouache highlights. I took the opportunity to add more shapes to the composition.


Abstract 102416 16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


Getting Closer

I think I broke out of my ‘S’ habit.  In previous abstract watercolors (Untitled 101916, Caldron) I seemed to always start with a backward ‘S’ shape.  I did more high frequency brush strokes in earth tones.  I carefully painted in between the indiscriminately-painted yellows.  Those reds and purples pulled the amorphous yellows together like a purse seine

Watercolor: Abstract - Yellow Fantasy

Purse Seine
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

I like this study very much. The central area, clear of foreground designs, has potential for additional visual elements. Perhaps the absence of design makes it the center of gravity for this composition. I feel I am getting closer to creating increasingly interesting studies.

Abstract 102216

I began with an earth-tone wash for background. I moved the pigment around with compressed air. The result reminded me of successive mountain ranges. I used a fan brush to stab in some green at the bottom, and an angled brush to poke a bit of red at the top.  The green at the bottom needed some definition. I used neutral tint to fill in between some of the green strokes.

Watercolor : Abstract 102216

Abstract 102216
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I thought the mauve would be a good contrast to the earth-tone background. I used transparent, iron-based pigments.  Looking back on the past several paintings, it seems I have a tendency to lay down my colors in ‘S’-shaped strokes. I’ll have to look into that.

Once again I used compressed air (and gravity) to move the pigments around. I painted in a lemon yellow amidst the purple strands, for maximal contrast.

Watercolor: Abstract - Caldron

16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Untitled 101916

I streaked a stroke of terra rosa to begin today’s piece. After dripping cadmium red on the paper and letting it dry, I glazed the surface with transparent iron yellow and then transparent iron red. I wanted a study in earth colors.  Finally, I used English yellow to stripe the middle of the first form I traced on the paper – the terra rosa streak.

Watercolor: Abstract - Untitled

16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Abstract – Filter Feeding

Terra Rosa (M. Graham) is a very fine pigment. I brushed it on boldly to the expansive 16×12 paper. I then spouted several compressed air puffs to whisk some of the pigment away from the main stroke. The result reminded me of the big bones of a whale’s mouth connecting with the fine filaments it uses to filter food from the water.

Watercolor: Abstract - Filter Feeding

Abstract – Filter Feeding
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Abstract Background 101816

I thought quite a bit about the role that chance plays in abstract painting. Surely some artists have mental image of what they would like to realize in paint. On the other hand, perhaps one paint stroke inspires the next, and so on.  As I mentioned yesterday, there are numerous accounts of artists gaining inspiration for their works from the patterns of clouds in the sky or vomit stains on a wall (from Giorgio Vasari’s 16th century work Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects).

My aim today was to create a background that would in turn, inspire a magical portrait or landscape. Something that I could not have imagined before hand.

I may have to pin this up in my studio and live with it a while. Nothing suggests itself to me at the moment, although I like the patterns as they are presently.

Watercolor: Abstract Background 101816

Abstract Background 101816
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I’m reading an interesting book about artists. Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist, by Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, is densely packed with interesting ideas and information. For example, throughout history, chance has come to the aid of the painter, since time immemorial. Stories abound about chance and the artist. Giorgio Vasari, a 16th century artist, also known as the first art historian relates my favorite one: He wrote about the painter Piero di Cosimo who “would sometimes stop and stare at a wall onto which sick people had vomited, and out of it conjure up for himself battles between mounted horsemen and the strangest cities and vastest landscapes ever seen. He did the same thing with clouds.” (pg 46 Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist, A Historical Experience by Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT 1979)

The under painting in my watercolor study below has nothing of the grandeur of the dried vomit described above, but it did inspire the simple lines of a portrait.

Watercolor: Abstract Chance Portrait

Portrait by Chance
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Abstract 101616 – Silhouette

I began the past few watercolors with washes of color on a 16″x12″ block of watercolor paper. Until now, the free-form design superimposed on the colored paper was independent of the background. Today was the first time a shape suggested itself after the paper dried.

Watercolor: Abstract 101616 - Silhouette

Abstract 101616 – Silhouette
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

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