Today’s watercolor experiment:

I had several different ideas for today’s study.  Perhaps ‘false starts’ would be a better way to characterize the beginning of this composition.

First idea:

Upon close inspection of some of the ‘christmas trees’ in yesterday’s post, I was struck by the vermilion-inked razor cuts surrounded by the peacock blue that represented the tree branches.

The red and blue combination prompted the thought of arteries and veins. I looked at the back of my hand and thought that it would be the perfect background for an artery and vein study.

I traced an outline of my hand (palm down), drew in some details and carved others with my razor. I inked the cuts with vermilion.

Second idea:

While I thinking of what to do next, I put on the movie Kwaidan, just to have something on in the background. For future reference, when working on a painting, it is probably not the best idea to have a subtitled movie in the background.  But the movie gave me idea number two. Actually, the idea came from the opening title sequence.

The Japanese characters announced the credits on the white background, which must have been a view through a tank of water. Black ink or pigment fell from the top of the screen. The dispersions became upside down mushroom clouds, swirls and smoke. I wanted to replicate this on my paper.

I soaked the paper and dropped in my most recent favorite color, peacock blue. I tilted the paper to a nearly vertical position. The color dripped as I hoped it would, but it was nothing like ink in water.

Even though I didn’t get the effect I wanted, the juxtaposition of the blue streaks and the hand seemed to work. Unfortunately, most of the texture seen on the wet paper evaporated when it dried.

Third idea:

Actually the third ‘idea’ was a series of reactions to what I had just put on the paper. I began to paint my flesh color formula (cadmium red deep, yellow ochre and lots of titanium white) on my hand outline. Painting this pigment in the region where the blue wash and the outline of my hand intersect gave the impression that the hand is behind a veil.

Since quinacridone purple seems to play well together with peacock blue, I dabbed it into the regions next to and overlapping some of the blue areas (on the re-wet paper).

Finally, I introduced cadmium yellow pale. This pigment coaxed a green tint from the underlying blue and an orange tint from the underlying quinacridone purple. (Note: the fact that the quinacridone purple mixed with the yellow resulted in an orange hue indicates that the former pigment is more toward the red side of the spectrum than purple.)

Watercolor: Abstract - Hand outline with peacock blue, quinacridone purple and cadmium yellow pale

9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I like the fact that I was able to combine several different ideas in one study. They seem to hold together. The hand and the splotches of blue interact well. The hand symbolizes several things to me: the earliest means of painting – finger painting; the hand as protector (a shield from the paint); it is also a bit of a self portrait – my hand bit.

I think this study needs a bit more work, however. It seems, on the average, too much on the pink side. Perhaps it needs to be balanced by more dark values.

I do like the anomalous blue dot on the back of the hand.

2 thoughts on “Scattered

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