Last Rubber Image

Work in progress

I have been working with watercolors these past few weeks. After a fleeting experiment with the use of watercolor paints as an impasto medium, I moved on to the use of liquid latex masking fluid to preserve the white space. Keep in mind that my whole purpose has been to use painting as a medium for self expression, not for representation of physical space. I had been working with small format substrate (4″x6″, 5″x7″), which didn’t leave me much room to pour a lot of masking fluid.

I started the work pictured below about 3 weeks ago. I had already penciled in a drawing, which I abandoned, so I decided to dump globs of liquid latex all over. The paper is of larger format (9″x12″) than my other experiments. I leisurely painted a stripe here, an a graded wash there; experimented with drops of clear water on a not-yet-dry field of watercolor to see the resulting pattern, and so on. I even used a razor blade to spread red, blue and yellow paint globs applied directly to the paper as a parting nod to the impasto technique.

Today, I removed all the dried latex to reveal the white spaces. Then I used indelible ink to outline most of the white area, and started filling them with complementary colors, for the most part.

Emerging image

I had no rhyme or reason to guide how I poured the masking fluid; my choice of colors was guided by my inclination to use primary colors and their complements. I did notice certain arcs, which I tried to extend, albeit discontinuously, across color fields and white spaces. I had no other rules.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who notices, but I see a schematic sagittal section of the human brain along the midline, although not completely anatomically correct – especially the ventricles. I painted the ‘pituitary’ with Hooker Green and the brain stem slants downward to the right. A symbolic vertebral column extends vertically about one quarter of the way up the paper, to the right of center at the bottom. I didn’t plan that feature at all.


Although I am a long way from painting an image or feeling that is inside me, I find it so interesting that I would organize the random blotches and stains of watercolor in my own mind, to represent something that I find fascinating (in this case, the brain).

Is this a successful painting? I don’t know. I am certainly engaged by it, yet I do not think it is finished. Once I saw the image of the brain cross section, my painting efforts were concentrated in making that form more obvious. I still want to proceed in this manner. I find myself thinking and thinking about how to proceed to attain that goal without overdoing it.

At any rate, I don’t think my future process will include liquid latex any more. As I mentioned in another post, the spontaneity seems to be lost. I am happy to have discovered a central image in this painting, however.

Here is today’s experiment – a work in progress:

12-18-13 Experiment Watercolor abstract using masking fluid

9″x12″ Cold Pressed 100% Cotton 140# Watercolor Paper

7 thoughts on “Last Rubber Image

  1. I love the color scheme you used here. Looks nicely balanced. The pale, almost double image in the center-left, just below the round, red/yellow image near the top, looks like a guy with his arm around another guy. This is a most intriguing picture, Jack. I hope you post more of these.


  2. Wow! I love this! This is a watercolour I would buy. The balance of colour and composition is excellent. The intuitive pieces are always the best in my experience. Sometimes the conscious mind can be very limiting to the flow of inspiration. It definitely helps to distract the conscious mind and allow subconscious expression to emerge.


    • Thanks, M. I find that I’m drawn (no pun intended) to the intuitive. In fact, I run into problems when I try to plan. I really appreciate your feedback, M. You know the funny thing is, when I did a search for abstract expressionist watercolour shortly after I posted this, and it SHOWED UP!?! I’m not sure if this happened because of some kind of ‘smart’ search that used my personal settings or what, but it was quite a kick to see it in a search result.
      Thanks again for all your support.
      Warmest regards,
      your friend,


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