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Tag Archives: liquid frisket



It has been so long since I’ve posted. I don’t know where the time has gone. I did start my 2014-2015 art classes, so perhaps I am just a bit slower this year.

The above is a repeat attempt on a pony team I first painted here. I wanted to paint it in color. Thank you to wet canvas for the photo reference.


                               Big Red Lighthouse


                                 White River Lighthouse 

A couple of years ago, Richard McNaughton challenged many of his fellow art bloggers to paint lighthouses. My sister was up for this! She has always been drawn to lighthouses and visiting them when she travels. To make a long story short, she made sure I had reference photos of five of them for the challenge. You can see the paintings I did from those references by clicking here.  For a while, now, she has wanted me to paint two more of the lighthouses she has visited.  I finally sat myself down and drew and painted them for her. These are both lighthouses from Michigan that she has visited. She says they call the one on the top “Big Red”.

One thing I had to keep in mind is how I painted the previous five as she would like to hang them together. For these, I used a wonderful coldpress watercolor paper called Cartiera Magnani. I also kept these to the size that I had painted the others and tried to stay true to the colors I had used for the others. I had to use liquid frisket to save small areas of white in each painting, since I worked so small. I really enjoy working on this paper but have not been able to order large sheets of it. Every time I try, I am told it is out of stock. I have two blocks of the small 9 x 12  inch sheets remaining. It is a soft paper with an interesting texture and the water and pigments soak into it immediately. It is great for a rather detailed look and retains the brilliant color of the pigments exceptionally well.


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.


The above painting is a project I have been working on for about a month. Phew!  It is finally finished or as much as I can think to put into it.  I ventured into this via an assignment I gave to my composition class the last week of class. That was to do a painting of signs. They could approach it from a reference of street signs or design something abstract. My painting came from a photo my sister took quite a few years ago from her trip to Times Square in New York. She aimed her camera upward and snapped a photo that included the “Wicked” sign. I had just finished reading the book. I had to use a lot of liquid frisket to save the whites of lettering and light bulbs, etc. I had to approach each sign as if they were separate paintings and then push and pull my darks and lights to help it to read effectively. All the whites are saved whites, not paint.

Thankyou to my sister for continually challenging me and believing in my ability.  🙂


The above painting is a portrait of my sister’s cat, Little Bear. I have always wanted to paint her just to see if I could capture the look of her tabby marked coat. I used frisket for the spindly white in the grasses, whiskers, and highlights in the eyes.

A post about frisket is found here.

My sister’s other cat can be found here.



I painted the above painting with a dark background using a reference from wet canvas. Most everything was there for me with the dark background as the reference was against a dark background.


Next, I changed the still life to sit in a light background.

The above paintings were done following the exercise rules of: Paint the same still life twice.  Paint one on a dark background and one on a light background.

I learned a ton! Even though I used a grid to draw both of these still lifes, note that they are not drawn exactly alike. But, they are both of similar style, probably same artist.  It was easier to follow the shadow shapes and tones in the dark still life because it was all there for me in the reference photo. I didn’t know it as I was painting the dark one, but my brain was logging a lot of information I’d need for the light background painting.

Then I moved on to the light background painting. This one was intimidating, at first. I realized I was going to have to have those background colors reflecting into  and through the clear glass. I knew I would have to use my light background colors in the lids of the shakers as well, in order to unify and balance the painting. I played with about six different colors on a scrap piece of paper until I came up with the blue, yellow and burnt orange combo. This was the most difficult of the two paintings. I enjoyed painting it, though,  because I was able to decide colors and how to use them. I was able to make it more my own.

Just for fun, I am going to add that I had the most fun getting the darks and lights on the metal caps and making the pepper look like pepper in the pepper jars.  🙂


The above painting is one I have done for a friend of mine. This is her half Halflinger mare, Lilly Mae.  I used frisket for the white strands of mane and whiskers and highlights on the eye and the hardware and stitches on the bridle.  After painting strands of mane in for hours!, I had to do some lifting with a sponge to blend some of the lighter colors. Her mane is lighter than her body, but not white.  I worked extra hard on sculpting her face and capturing the veins and the jawline to lead the viewer’s eye to Lilly’s huge soft dark eye. That took several layers of very light washes.  After removing the frisket from the metal hardware of the bridle, I went back in and shaded areas of it. I used Harvest Gold, Raw Sienna, Halloween Orange, Copper Kettle, Burnt Umber, Sepia, Prussian Blue and Blue Stone to create this portrait.

Thankyou to those of you that have enquired as to my whereabouts. I have been fine, but the Holidays and all the shoveling and blowing of snow that I’ve done has kept me away from painting and blogging. I will try to be more present!


I have painted the above sky once before here. I don’t mind practicing from references I used previously. It’s nice to be able to see differences in a painting and to see if my skills have changed. I tried something new that I read about in a landscape book about skies and clouds. I used a sponge that I pre-wet and squeezed most of the water from to soften the top edges of the above clouds. I find it impossible to create interesting clouds without leaving hard edges everywhere. After my clouds had dried, I just took that sponge and lightly rubbed out the hard lines around the edges of the above clouds. I had to keep re-wetting and wringing the sponge to remove pigment that was lifted and to prevent smearing as I worked, but it really did the trick and fluffed up those upper edges. I also created that beam of light that bursts outward in the upper sky by dragging the sponge through the wet sky wash prior to it drying.  The water was created by sponging liquid frisket in the center area to save the bright white of the paper.  The lines of waves in the foreground were created by drawing them in with frisket, using a round brush.Once the frisket had dried, I washed on the colors for the water. This painting looks its best if viewed from a distance.

I don’t know if any of you have discovered that it is always best to get up and move to a distance of about ten feet and view your painting, in progress, from time to time. I find that a very useful practice for getting the value contrasts down. Most paintings are viewed from somewhere else in a room than right on top of them. I love going to an art museum and viewing a painting up close and then slowly backing up and see the whole thing come together. Several famous artists whose originals I’ve viewed, this way, and that really pack a punch when you back off them, are Van Gogh, Turner, Seurat and Monet. This never ceases to amaze me.


This week, in watercolor class, we are going to work on landscapes that include big skies or water. I think it is one of the most difficult of subject material, not because sky and water are difficult to render but because the artist needs to learn to let go and allow the water he is using to do some of the work. Both subjects lend themselves well to the abstract and the artist needs to learn to balance that look of the abstract with his desire to control everything he renders. The relinquishing of that control and the ability to watch what is happening on his paper is part of creating beautiful skies and believable water scenes.

One thing I did was to learn something about granulating washes. Here are two of my practice sheets of running color, one into the other, to see the different combinations they would produce.

colorwashes        colorwashes2

I learned that it was very difficult to get muddy if I used enough water and allowed the colors to mix effortlessly together.

Time after time, I have run into problems with sky and water pieces when they are the major element to my painting. I had to learn to work quickly and keep my paper wet, to lift clouds with tissue or a damp brush and to tickle the edges of clouds with a brush where I wanted them softer. I learned that my sky or water would be a believable rendition of the subject material but not the exact replica. I learned to use my reference material as just that, a reference and not an “end all”, JUST LIKE IT  in the finished painting. The skies that I have to go back into in a series of glazes are more edgy than those I can pull off in one pass over the page, so I tend to work with stronger color in the first pass on a sky. With waterscapes? I usually do three or four glazes. Water becomes more and more believable as I begin to work the darks into it. Frisket is great for saving sparkly hints of light on water.

I painted the above sunset in two passes. The clouds were lifted with a tissue and then lightly shaded in the second pass.


I ran into a problem with the sky in the above painting and ended up with a more edgy look to the sky than I would have liked.  Be patient. Sometimes these paintings of sky and water go through an ugly phase. The real interest was not in the sky but in the shapes in the water and the backlit trees casting reflections into the foreground.  Learn to let what is happening on the paper with the water and the pigment to help you.   I am forever learning what the water can do.


This is Cooper. He smiles all the time and has loads of energy; even knows tricks! He is owned by friends of mine. I had asked for a reference photo of him about a year ago and had not pushed myself to try a portrait of him.  The challenge, here, was how to save all that white since he is such a light Golden.  I hope I have captured that light, here.  I approached this painting as though I was painting negative space around the lightness of his coat. The white, in this, is the white of the paper. I shaded the real light areas  by using light washes of the turqouise color I used in the background.  I also used the turquoise (stronger) to enhance the darks and balance the foreground and the background. I used liquid frisket to save the whiskers and eyelash areas. I scratched the tiny highlight in each eye with a razor blade.