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by Nancy Longmate

by Nancy Longmate



The above two paintings are Nancy’s and my third attempt with splatter painting.

We are adding more color even though we begin these with a monochromatic study in payne’s gray. I think I’d like to try one in sepia some time, too. Carol King has been helping us with this via emails since she took the workshop with Tim Saternow. She has also sent me links to his article in “American Artist Watercolor” (Winter 2012) and several other links of artists who use similar techniques. I think a watercolor artist can probably adapt this technique to how he or she likes to work. The splatter and drips ( if you tilt your board) add something spontaneous and fun to work with. The value study sets the tone.

I promised to post my steps on this post, so here are the steps to the Herschell Carousel. Thank you Wet Canvas for the reference image!



First, I do a detailed drawing and use liquid frisket to save any little white areas.



I, then, paint a value study of the reference in Payne’s gray. This could be done in neutral tint or sepia, also. I would think the color you would use for this phase would have to be considered a dark color in order to get strong value changes. Tim stated, in his article, that he applies his pigment in thick impasto in the darkest areas. I’ll have to try that sometime. I have not applied it that thick, as yet.



Next, splatter with clear water. I use a two inch flat and load it with water. With the painting laying on the floor, I stand above it and drip the water over it copiously. On this one, I tinted the water a bit with Payne”s gray and also tilted the board to get some drips on this phase. I let that dry completely.



Then I chose a warm and a cool color and splattered the entire painting with these two colors. Some artists pour the color over the painting and tilt the board to get a drip effect. After this, my darks had washed out some and I repainted many of them. I chose the colors Halloween Orange and Phthalocyanine Blue for my splatter colors. I wanted more color due to the subject material.


Then I began adding color. I decided to put more color into this painting than my previous two. I thought the subject called for it. I had also taken time to view quite a few paintings by artists using this technique and saw that some of theirs had more color in them and that Tim had made mention that he allows the subject material and what is happening on the paper to guide him in how much color to use.  I also removed all frisket from the painting during this phase.



I finished by lightly coloring the background items, darkening the background blacks and re- painting the darks in the foreground horse. With this painting, I splattered more blue and orange at the very end.


  1. Such a complex subject with so many elements, yet dealt with no resistance or struggle, you have your own way with dealing with such compositions and it always leaves me in awe! Gorgeous Leslie, thanks for sharing the process, it is a bonus for me 🙂

    • You are too kind, Padmaja. Thank you! These seem to crave an element of detail, only to be disturbed by water and splatters. Nancy and I are calling them our “dirty” paintings. They look so different than had we not splattered. After splattering, the possibilities are endless.

  2. This is brilliant! Loved the step by step post!

  3. Wow, Leslie!! I absolutely adore your painting! I love carousel horse paintings…there is joy, fun, whimsy, nostalgia all wrapped in such paintings…not to mention color! Really beautiful!

    • Thank you, Sherry. I would not have dreamed of trying to paint this a few years back. All the poles and lines would have just gotten me tangled up. This satisfied my joy of drawing, for sure.

  4. Thanks for sharing….the results are very abstract. Nice.

    • Thank you. The splatters help me to let go and let some things happen and supply that abstract look.

  5. Thanks for the progressive. It’s magical to see……even my own. Well done…your carousel horses. They seem alive like the ones from my childhood when they felt real to me.

    • The reference photo from wet canvas said this was an Allan Herschell carousel. I looked it up and compared these with others. These are truly the most beautiful of the ones I viewed when I compared them to other manufacturers works. All the ones I viewed were galloping like these and had the mouth open and teeth showing. They were also more muscled than others. Now? I wonder if I’ve ever ridden an Allan Herschell carousel horse. Thank you, Gretchen!

      • I am fascinated by carousel horses. Thank you for the information.

  6. I love the carousel horse painting. They are fierce, wild and prancing. I think this is how some of the children riding on the horses believe their ride is like

  7. L O V E! I hadn’t seen Nancy’s in the works so I was awed by it when I came to your blog. Please tell Nancy I love her painting! You already knew I loved your carousel. I find this technique to be so much fun. And doing a value painting first really helps to see the values of the overall painting when you add color. I just posted another one too. I find it interesting how all three of us took this technique and made it our own. Fantastic work Nancy and Leslie.

    • I can’t take progression photos of Nancy’s as we just get together for a weekly painting session and these take several days to complete, as you know. We like how the grisaille or initial monochromatic study sets the tone and offers up numerous possibilities. I really think these runny and splattery works have offered up endless ideas for watercolor paintings. I am so thankful that you have introduced us to this and for your encouragement and advice along the way. I love your new one of the water tower! Thank you, Carol!

  8. Leslie love this project very much and the end results are very good.

  9. These are both so nice. I really like your carousel. The horses are so lively.

  10. Wow those carousel horses are really magical! Even the ones in the background are really terrific. I’d say this technique is a winner. 😀

  11. Lovely painting you have here, Leslie! Thanks for explaining the technique. I can try this too, when I get a chance to paint next time.

  12. Hi Leslie,
    Well I just love these! I guess that would not be a surprise. You go girls!

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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

    […] 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 or dripped […]

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

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

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

    […] Those of you, who follow my blog, know that I and a friend spent the summer learning to paint from a monochromatic rendering and transform it with splatter and drips and color. The explanation of how to approach these is found here and here. […]

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