Lesson 6 – Painting without Paint Brushes

Today’s warmup exercise:

The title of the exercise I tried from the Tate Watercolour Manual, Lessons from the Great Masters by Tony Smibert and Joyce Townsend was ‘Spatter and other marks’.  It prompts the students to use a toothbrush to shpritz watercolors onto the panels of the test chart.  After spattering different colors, the book suggested using the toothbrush to make ‘interesting marks’ and to blend the pigments in different ways.

I tried this on the top two panels without wetting the paper beforehand. On the bottom two panels I performed the exercise again, this time splattering paint onto wet paper.

Watercolor Lesson Chart - 4 Panels; paint applied without brushes

Different Ways to Apply Color

In the top left panel I played with Prussian blue, cadmium red light, carmine red and lemon yellow. I found it difficult to move the Prussian blue pigment around the paper, since it stained where I originally splattered it and didn’t move very far when I scrubbed it with the toothbrush.

I used yellow ochre and cadmium red light in the second panel (top right). Instead of being relatively immobile as in the first panel, I was able to move the pigments quite freely in this one. I used the toothbrush as a way to smear colors to approximate geometric shapes.

I used different colors in the bottom two panels. The lower left panel absorbed Prussian blue, carmine red, cadmium red light and lemon yellow; I used the same pigments plus cerulean blue on the bottom right panel.

I washed all 4 panels more than once and tried to manipulate the colors by removing paint with a paper towel and by scrubbing with the brush.

A more illustrative demonstration of watercolor paint removal would probably involve darker, non-staining pigments.

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