Screen View

I have recovered from my disastrous screen printing experiment of the other day.

Today’s watercolor experiment:


Here is a recap, to bring those of you who do not know of the above, less-than-successful (ok, totally unsuccessful) attempt  to make a watercolor of the fig tree in our back yard, as seen through the screen in the kitchen window.  The first attempt was successful as far as it went. I drew a rather course grid of 1 millimeter squares. I liked the end result, which reminded me of a mosaic:

Watercolor: Fig Tree as seen through a screen

Screened Fig Tree
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

The reference photo for today’s watercolor displays the last leaf of the season for our fig tree:

Digital Photo: Screened Fig Tree with One Leaf

Screened Fig Tree with One Leaf
Digital Photo Through Screen

My effort to ‘ink’ part of an actual screen and press it by hand onto my watercolor paper resulted in the following unsuccessful transfer.

Screen Experiment 1 - Attempt to print black acrylic on watercolor paperProcess:

I had to do quite a bit of work on the partially inked watercolor paper, to salvage it. I did the first bit with a T-square and drawing board. When you see the fineness of the grid in the final product, I’m sure you’ll understand that I quickly abandoned the T-square and counted on my visual acuity to draw parallel lines. If the screen I drew was a real screen, it would not even admit a gnat, and could probably pass for a HEPA filter. I think I saved myself from carpal tunnel syndrome by giving up my grasp on my drafting equipment,

Grid completion:

In order to add some variety, I left some spaces ungridded. I had no idea what I would do with these holes in my screen, but I liked them.

I proceeded to draw the branches of my tree, painting square by square; shadow green colored the trees that comprised the backdrop. I had the oddest feeling that I was painting digitally, pixel-by-pixel.

Grid holes:

I wanted some way to fill the grid holes to contrast appropriately with the gridded representation of the tree. I finally decided to fill them with blacks and grays. First, it would contrast with the low key colors of the tree and second, the smooth variation in tones would contrast with the digital rendition found inside the screened area.

Watercolor: Pen and Ink Grid with Gray/Black Spots and Fig Tree

Screen View
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I am very pleased with this study. Partway through painting the white/gray/black areas I thought about Japanese art. I only have a passing familiarity with Japanese paintings, so I could be mistaken about the resemblance.  There is another factor that could explain how this  composition came to be: my unconscious.  I just finished reading The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. I found it in the library’s book store, having never heard of it. It was a wonderful book and I’m sorry that it is over.


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