Stems – Abstract

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I began with ink today. I painted yellow ink with a brush to create the form at the top of the paper. Then I added red calligraphy ink, hoping to make an orange color. I did the same with the shapes above and below the first long shape.

After applying the ink, I painted similar forms with latex masking fluid. I painted the background with ultramarine violet, but this color was not dark enough.

Watercolor: Abstract - Stage 1, Latex Mask, Colored Ink and Textured Background

Stems – Stage 1, Latex Mask, Colored Ink and Textured Background

I used a combination of Payne’s gray and Moonglow pigments to darken the background and create more contrast with the foreground. For maximal contrast, I traced the latex-masked shapes with undiluted Payne’s gray.


As I created the long, thin shapes ending in a circle, I thought of a photograph I took the other day. I was attracted to a brilliant yellow flower, lit by the sun, completely surrounded by darkness.

Photograph: Yellow Hibiscus

Yellow Hibiscus

I was attracted by the inner parts of the flower, which were illuminated by the glow of the light that came through the flower petals. The major colors of the flower include bright yellow, the outer flower petals; yellow-orange inside the flower and a greenish gray color for the bulbous stamens at the center.

Translating to the composition:

The most important feature of the photograph is the contrast between the dark background and the bright flower. I tried to capture this quality by darkening the areas around the long stem shapes in my watercolor.

Watercolor: Abstract - Ink, Watercolor and Textured Background

12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I’m not sure if this composition holds together. I began by inking the red and yellow shapes, without any idea of where that would lead. I echoed the first ink shape with latex mask, and only then did I think about my photograph. One can see where I shifted from a design based on the original ink shapes to forms inspired by the hibiscus flower photograph. On the other hand original ink shapes that span the width of the composition have a unifying effect.

2 thoughts on “Stems – Abstract

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