Paint Now, Add Title Later

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I followed my, by now, standard process of starting with a blank watercolor block, adding liquid frisket, or masking fluid and shaking and shimmying (the paper) until I am satisfied with the design. Only today I took it outside.


I poured the frisket on my paper, probably a bit too much, grabbed the watercolor block by one corner, and flung (flinged? flang?) it into the air. The results were visually unremarkable probably because I didn’t achieve the appropriate centrifugal force. I did however get a nice smattering of the frisket on my arms, as they were in the plane of the twirling watercolor block.

I wanted to use colors that I don’t normally use, so I focussed on the blue paints in my bin.  I have a couple of tubes of manganese blue. The pigments I have are not hues. Today I used manganese blue deep by Old Holland. I have not used it very often but it seems to have a nice granular quality. I outlined one of the frisket tracings with this light grainy blue.

I have found that cerulean blue is a good color for the sky, and very granular. I thought cerulean blue deep (by M. Graham) would be grainy as well. I applied it about the second frisket skeleton, but was disappointed that it did not match the grainy quality of the manganese.

Watercolor: Cerulean Blue, Manganese Blue and Latex Mask Traces

Stage 1 – Manganese and Cerulean Deep Blues

I tested the cerulean blue deep with several yellows and decided that aureolin yellow would be the best choice. I washed the area around the frisket traces with this transparent yellow.

I applied several more washes of manganese to darken the area on the left, after the yellow glaze dried.

I still wanted a grainy appearance on the right portion of the composition, so I chose French ultramarine, which is a granular blue pigment on the reddish side of the spectrum.

Watercolor: Stage 2 - Additional Washes and Aureolin Yellow

Stage 2 – Additional Washes and Aureolin Yellow

The traces left by the frisket reminded me of the veins of leaves. The brush strokes of the French ultramarine seemed to define smaller veins radiating from the central stem. I added more manganese blue, emphasizing brush strokes similar to those on the darker blue design.

The final flourish was the application of a cadmium red streak down the middle of each central vein.

Watercolor: Abstract with Manganese and Cerulean Deep Blues, Aureolin Yellow and Cadmium Red Light

Abstract Leaves
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I did not intent to portray leaves in any form, in today’s experiment. Perhaps an image hangover from yesterday was at work in the back of my mind, organizing the results of a random frisket spill and paper fling into leaf forms like the ones I painted yesterday.

I am happy with my process, not the least of which is withholding the title until the very last moment.

One thought on “Paint Now, Add Title Later

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