Today, I am shying away from ‘self expression’, having been stung by Annie Dillard’s description of those who consider ‘art’ as a way to understand one’s self: “You may hold the popular view that art is self expression, or a way of understanding the self – in which case the artist need do nothing more than babble uncontrolledly about the self and then congratulate himself that, in addition to all his wonderfully interesting attributes he is also an artist.” (Norton Sampler, 1985 pg 21)

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Instead of indulging in the expression of my own feelings in watercolor today, I concentrated on exploring the interaction of granular pigments on a rough background.

I already knew that earth tone pigments are, for the most part, granular. From my research, I discovered other pigments with granular qualities: ultramarine blue, cobalt teal, Moonglow, a Daniel Smith watercolor, and cadmium yellow pale. I wanted to see how they would work together and interact with the surface of a rough-textured paper.

Watercolor: Abstract using granulating pigments

9″x12″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block


I began this study by washing the bottom part of the wet paper with ultramarine blue. I laid in the cobalt teal just above this, to allow them to mix.  The idea I had in mind was the change in color that one sees sometimes in very clear, shallow water at a tropical seashore.

At the top of the paper I washed in the Moonglow, which is an interesting, multi-pigment watercolor.

Finally, I washed the cadmium yellow pale over a section of the paper to see how this opaque, granular pigment would react. Normally, I would have used a transparent yellow as a glaze, but I wanted this study to be about the interaction of granular pigments.


Although my original idea was based on the colors of the ocean, I made a conscious decision to keep this study abstract and avoid any resemblance to a landscape, seascape or other recognizable scene.

I tried to make this study very simple – an exploration of certain qualities of watercolors and their interaction with the paper surface.

And keep self exploration out of it.

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