Eyes Abstract

Today’s watercolor experiment:

For something completely different, I started my watercolor with pen and ink.  I had a rude surprise when I opened the box where I stored my dip pens, I found that most of my inks had dried up, inside the bottles. I hadn’t used them in a really long time!

Some calligraphy inks survived, however, so I began my painting with broad pen strokes of carmine, followed by doodles of dark blue.  I took my pen point ‘for a walk’, a phrase that I learned from Paul Klee’s writings. The square edge of the nib caught on the surface of the paper even though it was moderately smooth, so I was unable to sweep the paper with complete freedom.

I was expecting interesting blotting and streaming effects when I wet down the paper. Alas, the calligraphy ink was waterproof! Usually when I don’t want ink to run, it does.

My plan was for the ink to flow into the clear-water wash. Therefore, to avoid a busy composition I kept my doodles sparse. When it did not flow, I resorted to filling in with watercolors. I used were: Moonglow (a brown-hued, multicolored pigment), aureolin yellow, quinacridone purple and burnt orange, Prussian blue, cadmium orange and Winsor red (not necessarily in that order). Here is a preliminary stage of today’s study:

Watercolor: Abstract - pen and ink with watercolors


For some reason, when I doodle with pen and ink, or pencil, tend to draw eyes. Today was no exception. I’m sure there are psychological reasons for this. Instead of delving into this here, I refer you to previous posts about eyes, as relates to my older autistic brother (Name This Photograph, The Eyes Have It and Photography and Truth).

I completed the study in two stages. First, I increased contrast by painting saturated colors around some of the pen outlines. Second, I sought to visually organize the ink scribbles.

Here is the final stage of today’s composition:

Watercolor: Eyes Abstract - pen and ink and watercolor

Eyes Abstract
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


Part of the fun of composing an abstract study (for me), is making sense of, or unifying the marks or splotches on the paper. In today’s composition, I suggested faces to go with the eyes. There are at least five, by my count. The relationship among the faces becomes a point of interest in this study.

In hindsight, I wish I had scribbled with a bit more purpose, without relying on the colors to run. The underlying pen and ink drawing should have been able to stand on its own. I don’t think I achieved this. The study began to take shape in the organizing stage, where I embodied the eyes into their respective faces.

It would be interesting to compose a study with permanent and water-soluble inks, and experiment with an overlay of watercolor washes.


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