The Harpists

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I dripped a bit too much frisket on my paper to begin with. I have been starting my abstracts with this rubbery, mask material for a while now. The more the merrier, I suppose. Check that… It was merrier. There were more strands of liquid rubber to play with as I tilted and tipped my watercolor paper.

Another project on which I have been working is a digitization of my old film negatives. Beginning in 1988, I started taking photographs. Many photographs. I was living in New York City at the time and loved taking pictures of the buildings, subways, tugboats and the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. I didn’t realize how many photos I actually had of these structures.

The image of the Brooklyn Bridge must have leaked from my unconscious to today’s drippings. Something in my brain made the connection between the strandy blob of hardening liquid rubber, with the wires of that bridge.

I took the next step and, with pen and ink drew a fan of black lines emanating from one corner of the paper. In contrast to the amorphous frisket, these straight lines depicted the Brooklyn Bridge’s cables, literally.

With visions of other artist’s renderings of this famous structure, I tried my hand at my own Brooklyn Bridge fantasy.

I began with a phthalo blue stripe in the middle of the page flanked by lemon yellow above and opera rose below. After drying, I added more frisket to preserve the colors underneath, as I prepared to add more pigment to the composition.

I added more red, yellows and blues to create darker tones. Instead of opera rose, I used quinacridone red in the red portion and ultramarine blue in place of phthalo blue, in the blue portion. I liked the brilliance of lemon yellow, so I applied that pigment once again atop the yellow portion of the painting.

Once I removed all the frisket, I could see the stark white traces left by the original application of frisket and the designs, in original colors, left by the second application of latex mask.

Watercolor: Abstract - Red, Blue and Yellow with Pen and Ink

The Harpist
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

My blobs turned into creative creatures who loved playing music on the oversized harp with a design similar to that of Brooklyn Bridge.

Were I to develop this exercise, I would add more depth and tonal variation to reduce the flatness of the work as it now stands.


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