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The above painting was painted with the help of salt. I first painted in all the color very wet letting the green, yellow and oranges run together some.While the paint was still wet, I sprinkled salt all over this.  No, I did not shake it over the whole painting but put a mound in one hand and pinched some of that over the wet pigments.I sat and watched as it began to make little stars in the paint. I added more after about  three minutes to areas where nothing was happening ( this may have meant the paper was too wet at the time I applied it ). What I was trying to do is develop texture in the leaves and brush. I  waited for this all to dry, thoroughly, and brushed the remaining salt from the paper. Some of the salt stuck, so I rubbed a little harder. I painted the roadway  wet-in-wet and darkened the curve at the end of the road with burnt sienna. Then with ink and drawing nib, I drew in and around the foliage to create the tree trunks and branches.

I rendered this same scene by using a saran wrap print that I posted earlier here.

Joshua Sellers  accepted this painting as an illustration for his post titled “This Road”. He has offered the opportunity for other artists and photographers to offer illustrations for his posts and here are the directions on how to submit. Thank-you Joshua.


  1. Wow! this is lovely. Look at all those colours. Autumn round here is a lot more subdued. Nice one Leslie.

    • Right where I live, it gets pretty colorful but not this dense a woods. I drove about 25 miles northwest of here and traveled some backroads to get the reference for this woodsy area. Thanks Stephen.

      • Great stuff – it sounds like you are out and about quite a bit. This is such a cool painting – I see you have concentrated on the perspective of the trees and there is that cooler little patch above where the road disappears that beckons.

  2. This is incredible, magnificent colors bursting, as though the trees just can’t hold the colors in anymore. And the soft edges with a touch of texture really just finishes it off. Very nice!

    • Thank-you for visiting, Smalltown. This painting was what I call sheer fun because all the pigment goes in at once and the salt goes down and you add and drop salt until you get what you want. There’s some waiting but it’s all just letting go. Fitting the tree trunks and branches in is like putting a puzzle together and you can make it any way you want. Very little talent, but lots of trust in giving the water and salt their way. Thank-you for liking it.

  3. Leslie. I saw this at Joshua’s blog, and I thought it was amazing. Could I buy it? 😀 😀 😀 hehe.. No, seriously, I LOVE it…

    • Wow! What a nice comment. I imagine your love of nature drew you to this one.

  4. the visual effect is so impressive.
    thanks for the free lesson.

  5. Leslie, its breathtaking!

  6. i’m speechless….there could be no better compliment than Deva’s….

  7. I absolutely love it. Thanks for describing the process.It sounds so simple. Did you paint this from your imagination? Did you use waterproof black ink? Thanks again.

    • Hi Raji. It is very simple. Just make sure you use strong pigment. If you are too light at first, there is no way to save all those textural effects later. These washes have to be strong and wet. Also, you have to work an area, drop salt, work an area, drop salt; then check first area before it is dry to see if it needs a little more salt and keep working your way across the page. Let that process dry, COMPLETELY before inking the trunks and branches. I used non waterproof ink. You can also make a mixture of darks like alizarin crimson and hookers green and paint in the trunks and branches. That is done right on top and in and out of the foliage that covers the whole paper except where you place the road.

  8. Beautiful!

    • Thank-you for stopping by Chris and for the comment! I really liked the window scene idea you are working on!

  9. Well…I, for once, have been rendered speechless.

    But not for long.

    Last night I took a quick peek at this and the one with saran wrap – and actually couldn’t get to sleep for thinking about them.

    You say it takes no talent but I know you’re wrong. I’ve tried using salt many times and all I get is “…” also “—“. Wet on wet isn’t easy either.

    Thank you so much Leslie, for explaining your techniques. I’m very inspired and (once my busy schedule gives me a free day) am DETERMINED to try this as well as contour drawing AND blind contour drawing.

    • Thank-you, June. Truly makes me feel great. I will e-mail you with specifics and every little detail, and we’ll see if you can accomplish something like this. It’s well worth getting the knack of because salt and saran wrap printing can be used in areas of work, also. Some papers do not respond to salt. This was 140lb Arches cold press. It works great with salt.

  10. Wow! So striking – the contrast between the stark graphic trunks and the abstract handling of the foliage works really well and you’ve created such a tremendous sense of depth.

    • Thank-you, Sarah. I had so much fun placing those trunks in and out of the foliage!

    • heatherslalaland
    • Posted September 23, 2009 at 4:18 pm
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    • Reply

    I love the effect of salt on watercolours. I use it in class, along with pepper! We get handed a heap of things to try using with paints, and you would never think that you could use them. I’m learning that you really can use anything.

    I must say Leslie, both of the paintings are absolutely beautiful. They are so vibrant. Indian ink is fantastic with watercolours, I think. Have you tried to incorporate oil pastels into watercolour and ink? I paint a background with watercolour then use pastels in various places and finish of with ink. The effects are gorgeous!

    • Thank-you for this comment, Heather. I really enjoy working with ink along with watercolors. I have done some with oil pastel, but not mixed these media as yet. Thanks for the heads up on it!

  11. hi Leslie! this image is awesome! love the colours and shapes. hey, congratulations he decided to use your image in his blog entry!! sorry i can’t visit too often as i’d like to. hugs. martín

    • Thanks for the visit and comment, Martin. I really liked your self portrait. Keep up the good work at school!

  12. What an explosion of colors ! VIVA autumn !!! Well done !

  13. Wow. I really like how you experiment with techniques — like sprinkling salt — to get effects but also, the composition and use of color make me want to walk down that road and see what’s around the bend.

    • That’s how I felt when I snapped the photo reference. I wanted to see what else lay beyond. Thank-you, Tom.

  14. Wax and now salt–oh leslie the ways you paint are very intriguing.
    “Sweet” painting to boot.

    • Thank-you, 47. “eye candy”. I like that from one who creates remarkable compositions in color.

  15. I LOVE this!! What an interesting technique!

  16. I,like June, also appreciate how you describe the different techniques you use. I could jump right on to this road and just bask in all of autumn’s glory. I can feel the cool crisp air. (Did I mention I love the fall when all the leaves turn?)

    I must try using both the salt and the saran wrap on a painting soon.

    • Thanks, Carol. I sort of stood next to my car on the road and stared for quite awhile. I remember when I was young there being lots of this. Not so much today. So many subdivisions where there were meadows and woods. Get your camera ready! Fall color is just about here!

  17. I think this is my favorite of your paintings so far. It is really very well done. I like how you used ink for the tree trunks. Excellent job!

    • Thanks, Littlelynx! This is a technique you can do with a little practice. You have to use 140lb coldpress paper to get a good effect and stay away from the cadmiums. I haven’t been able to get them to respond well to the salt.

  18. Nice work, the painting really draws crowd, i like the road especially it really draws your attention into the what’s next on the next bend and the colors are simply marvelous

    • Thank-you, Francis. I remember the dramatic road in your painting, “Isle of Wight” where you stroked the curve on the road and gave the impression of movement. I wondered, in your painting, what was around the bend, also. I love seeing paintings of different places around the world. Isn’t this fun?

  19. I tried to comment on this yesterday but then internet explorer went blank! Anyway, I just wanted to say that I also really like this the most out of your recent works. The composition works well with those dark verticals creating a sense of rhythmn & structure within the horizontal format. Also of course the wonderful vibrancy of the colours is set off against the dark trunks.I also like how there is the precision & sharpness of the trunks contrasting against the wilder more loosly painted leaves. It may sound strange but I like to aim for that approach in my garden: for example a sharp edge to the grass & then a mass of contrasting abundent foliage( though these days it seems to go more towards an all wild side- you can’t do everything!)

    • Thank-you, Sonya. I love working in ink and watercolor in many different ways. The repetition idea is very strong in this. I have to give credit to the photo image I took. The scene was simple enough to allow me to explore. I love your idea about the gardening because I’ve never thought of that, but you are so right and what a beautiful garden that would be.Doesn’t sound strange to me at all. Sounds brilliant!

      • Hi Leslie
        I just wanted to comment on what you said about giving credit to the photo image. Don’t put yourself down! It was you that saw the scene in the first place & presumably picked it out because you found the repetition one of the interesting aspects that appealed to you.
        Someone else would have chosen to frame it differently & depending on their choice it might not have turned out as well as yours.
        Aside from that, the photo is only one of many steps in the process which, as you say, allows you to explore.
        Therefore the way I see it, it’s quite different from using someone else’s photo to work from because it’s part of your way of seeing.

      • I totally agree with you on that score. I think I was just trying to give nature credit, but you are right that I had to crop the right image for what I wanted to portry from an entire scene. I think that is sometimes the most difficult decision to make. Thanks, Sonya!

  20. Oh my gosh, Leslie! This is incredible!!! I love the depth where the road goes into the forest! I would love to see this one in real life! WOW!!

    • Thanks Beth. Sometimes simple says so much more! I think I get carried away sometimes.

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