Turbulent Hot and Cold

I tried another watercolor sketch inspired by Untamed Waters, the 1934 work by Paul Klee. The previous sketch from the Residual Ideas post is reproduced below. Unfortunately, I tried to find a link to Klee’s work, but I could not.

Watercolor Sketch - Abstract Line and Watercolor Drawing

Laminar Flow
9″x12″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I began with a sketch of a remnant of a dream I had last night. The major pictorial element in the dream consisted of two A-frame structures. I don’t remember much of the dramatic content of the dream except that it involved a rope and some hoisting of supplies for two people. I was the third person.


I drew the A-frames first. Since lines of flow were still on my mind from Laminar Flow (see above), I thought I would float the structure on an ocean of lines. I drew the lines with a 2B pencil, including a swirl here and there to indicate the types of waves seen in ocean water.

To contrast with the coolness of the bottom portion of the sketch, I chose  warm coloration for the top portion. In fact, I had fire in mind when I drew the curving vertical lines that would contain the reds, oranges and yellows.

The vertical blue fish-like shape projecting above the ocean layers began as a double helix – the well known shape of DNA – based on the curvature of the original lines in the top portion of the sketch. Then I planned to make this section into a water spout, as a way to bring the cool colors into contrast with the warm ones. The idea of a fish presented itself after I washed this local area with Prussian blue. and saw the results. I re-washed it with French ultramarine, a reddish shade of blue, so that it would better blend with the reds.

At the last moment, I painted French ultramarine swirls at the tip of the fish’s head. Unfortunately, this resulted in the overpainted area looking muddy.


Originally, I painted the A-frames with the brownish earth colors (yellow ochre and warm sepia, primarily). After I applied the warm colors in the background, I overpainted the A-frames with terra verte green, also an earth color, but one that would provide a bit more contrast with the reddish background.

My palette blues (cobalt teal, cerulean blue, peacock blue and French ultramarine) colored the bottom layers. I did not glaze the bottom layers, but rather outlined the pencil lines with pen and ink. I wanted to preserve the shapes of the waves and the front-to-back order of the layers which may have been destroyed by the glazing process.

For the vertical lines of turbulence in the upper portion of the sketch, I used the usual suspects: Winsor red, alizarine crimson, quinacridone red and cadmium yellow pale. I glazed local areas with aureolin yellow and quinacridone red.

Watercolor Sketch - Abstract - from dream - painted line drawing

Turbulent Hot and Cool
12″x9″ 140# Cold Press Watercolor Block


The only thing left from my dream was the image of the A-frame and an icky feeling of some kind of loss. A fish out of water, perhaps?  The image and the feelings seem to blend well in this study.

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