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by Nancy Longmate



I am bound and determined to learn the technique that Carol King shared on her blog post here. She learned this technique in a workshop she took from Tim Saternow.

The above two paintings are the result of my friend, Nancy Longmate, and my first attempts. It did not go so well.  She feels like she did not splatter enough and I feel as though I splattered too dark and could not soften the splatters down enough.  We refuse to give up. We both have our second attempts started and will post them when they are done.

Meanwhile, I’ll talk you through the steps I did on this one.



We were to create a monochromatic painting in the first step. I used payne’s grey. You can use any color you wish for this phase. Make sure it gets dark enough to explore all value ranges.



Once the painting is dry, drip copious amounts of water with a two inch flat brush onto the surface of the monochromatic study and allow it to dry.  I placed the painting on the floor and dripped onto the surface while standing above it.



The third step is to drip a diluted warm color and a diluted cool color onto the surface of the painting. I chose burnt sienna and payne’s grey I think it would have been best if I stopped here with the dripping. The drips would have read better had I diluted the colors more, too.  This is a bit dark for the splatter phase. I’m guessing!  Anyway, I made the mistake of splattering again.  I did this by standing above the painting and dripping the colors with a two inch flat brush. Nancy felt she did not splatter enough.



This is what it looked like before I began the finishing process. Like I said, I think I splattered too dark and should have diluted my warm and cool colors more.



After the splattered painting dries, begin to add some cool and warm colors and soften the drips where it is needed. The above painting is what I came up with.

I will be doing more of these. I think it is an excellent way to practice value study. It also satisfies my interest in being able to create something beyond copying a photo reference. It made me think about how much white space to leave and how I wanted to design the white space. Nothing more intimidating than splattering a tidy and clean monochromatic study. I like the energy, movement and depth it seems to add to the piece.  Carol kept reminding me that these paintings really can’t be ruined. I think she is right about that. It just opens a whole new set of challenges and suggests something new.

I will post my future attempts with this technique.

Thank you to Ahmed Farahat and his photo I used for reference from Paint My Photo.


  1. I think your piece is gorgeous, Leslie! I agree that the splatters might be just a tad too dark but it still is one darned cool and pretty painting as it is!

    • Thank you, so much, Sherry. I have toned down the concentration of color in the splatter on the painting I’m working on right now. We’ll see how it goes.

  2. Hi Leslie, You and Nancy did a fantastic job on both your paintings. I love how the splatters brings the eye back to the picture plane and then the eye jumps back into the pictures. My only comment is that when I dripped I used such diluted paint that it looked like watery tea or very, very light colored water. Your grisaille is absolutely amazing and can stand as a painting on its own. I can still see splatters in both yours and Nancy’s painting and to me they add interest to the paintings. Also, in my painting I think I used a lot less color in my actual painting than either of you did, so that mine stayed mostly as a grisaille or paynes gray value painting. I can’t wait to see more from you and Nancy!

    • I have taken your advice and splattered with more diluted color on my second one that I am working on tight now. I love this technique, by the way. I’m so glad you shared yours and listed the steps…. I noticed that Tim’s paintings varied. Some had large dark splatters and others had barely detectable splatters. I think I need to get a feel for dripping and what compositions benefit from darker splatter and which ones could do with a little. I also noticed that he had quite a few with a good amount of color. The color seemed to go with his choice of what he wanted to say about the scene. I find this so fascinating and freeing! Thank you! Are you going to do more of these?

  3. Both are lovely pieces Leslie, admire the fearlessness behind the process, it takes you to a new height of creativity I guess.

    • Yes, Padmaja. There is a slight pause right before I drip onto these monochromatic studies. So much time spent to create them. But! Once splattered, these become my own and a wonderful challenge to create into. Thank you!

  4. This is very cool Leslie – love learning the process and your tenacity to achieve this result. Amazing what the blue did at the end.

    • It had to have the blue. Somehow, that grounded it, don’t you think? I am well into my second attempt with this technique. Oh to imagine the different scenes that can be painted this way just opens so many options! Thank you!

  5. Great painting – looks like the camels kicked up mud!

  6. Your learning process is interesting. No doubt your next attempt will outdo your first, although the first is lovely. Blessings to you, Leslie…

    • Thank you, Carol. It’s sort of like cooking without a recipe; a dash of this and a glob of that and you hope you get something new and pleasing. 🙂 Second one is in the works!

  7. Gorgeous work! I love the subject from the inspiration photo and you’ve handled it so well! Cool technique!

    • Thank you, so much, Cindy. This technique of splattering a value study and then creating from there just simply fascinates me. I think it is the idea of not seeing the visual of the finished project all at once.

  8. Leslie, that is great I read carol post I think you gave me a nudge to try it too very soon..

  9. Both are wonderful dear Leslie !
    Love the process of them and colors❤️

  10. I could see the spatter technique (if selectively used) lending an open, process-oriented feel to the watercolor painting. Nice catching up with you and your students again!

    • You are always so perceptive! My friend and I are finding just what you said about this lending a process oriented feel to our painting. We can not replicate Saternow’s look. I think it is a true testament to our own styles. But! We are benefiting from a new way of approaching our subjects and finding that the spatter ads something that was not present in our work before. Painting the value study at the beginning and building upon it all in the same piece is really freeing and fun! Thank you for your insightful comment.

  11. Oh my goodness! This looks like so much fun! Totally a technique for me! I will try, thanks for sharing it. You finally piece is so wonderful and interesting! I absolutely LOVE it!

    • Thank you, Isabelle. Be sure to check out Carol’s post, too. There is so much to have fun with using this technique.

  12. What an interesting technique, splatter painting. I had never heard of it. In my humble opinion it adds some depth and “life” in any image and I really like the result. Thank you for explaining it in great details. Love what you create.

    • I am in total agreement with you. I really think it ads something. Thank you!

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. By Something New Continued | Leslie White on 01 Aug 2014 at 10:29 am

    […] Our first attempts, with description of technique, can be found here. […]

  2. By Summer Project: Painting 4 | Leslie White on 14 Aug 2014 at 11:17 am

    […] about this project than my friend and I are still experimenting with splatter paintings, described here and here. We have always started with a monochromatic study of our reference and then splattered […]

  3. By Summer Project: Final Paintings | Leslie White on 24 Aug 2014 at 7:27 pm

    […] tutorial of this technique can be found here and […]

  4. By More Splatter Painting | Leslie White on 03 Dec 2014 at 1:49 pm

    […] transform it with splatter and drips and color. The explanation of how to approach these is found here and […]

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