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