Dam It

Today’s watercolor experiment:

Something I said in yesterday’s post struck a chord with myself (oddly enough) and I thought I would put it into practice today: “The rubber could act like dams of color, potentially yielding drips of paint to a different color field below.”  I refer to the latex watercolor resist that I have been dribbling of late on my blank watercolor paper, painting around it and removing to reveal white spaces on the painted surface.


Instead of dripping the liquid latex willy nilly on my paper, today I latexed with a purpose. I used a modified chopstick to draw the liquid rubber into converging lines. I planned to use these makeshift dikes to channel my watercolors.

After the rubber cured I continued, flooding the top part of the paper with water. I placed quinacridone nickel at the beginning of the funnel structures, to see how it would flow through my series of locks and dams. It was fun to watch. The reddish hue of this color inspired a wash of aureolin yellow.  I wanted to expand the tonal values beyond the light red and yellow, so I dripped some neutral tint at the opening of the funnel structure at the top of the composition and watched its progress as it flowed three (rubber) levels downward, covering the initial application of quinacridone nickel.

I glazed the upper portion several times with lemon yellow and aureolin yellow, drying thoroughly after each layer, of course.

I rotated the paper 180 degrees and began working on the new top portion. I used phthalo green this time. The dam structure below it acted as an umbrella, shielding the space below from the color raining down on it.  I darkened the top edge of the green field with Prussian blue and, after drying again, glazed it with my yellows again.

This is how it turned out:

Watercolor: Abstract - Stage 1 - portrait format with latex resistAfter I removed the latex, it looked like this:

Watercolor: Abstract - Stage 1 - portrait format with latex resist removed

The next problem was to choose the colors for the white spaces. When this opportunity presents itself, I usually choose a color complimentary to the background. Today I used blues for the funnel lines (Prussian, ultramarine and indanthrone), permanent mauve for the first dam and cadmium orange for the final dam/umbrella. These are not color complements to the background, but I think they work anyway.

I present below, the final rendition of my composition:

Watercolor: Abstract - Dark substance seeming to be funneled to a green base

Abstract 121814
12″x9″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I like this composition. There is a wide tonal range and the colors have a pleasing blend. The muddy areas are minimal and do not distract from the overall look of the study.

Several unexpected drips occurred during my painting session. Two were made by falling latex and the others by errant drops of neutral tint. Although they were unintended I think they add to the appeal of this study.


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