Friday, November 5, 2021


Watercolor artists often use spatter to create texture, to create water's edges, or to introduce color in an area that doesn't need to be completely filled in. Trying to paint individual random dots without the use of splattering comes right up against a human being's need for order. We try, even without our realizing it, to make order out of chaos. We have even made patterns by creating the constellations when we looked at the billions of stars scattered over the sky. You can see this hard-to-break pattern-making in this small sketch where I placed supposedly random dots on the left hill. Not random at all. That's a spot where splatter would have worked much better.

Splatter with a brush creates the effect of randomness that painters want. Not that splatter is easy to do. It took me lots of trials before I could flick the end of my brush in a way that didn't end up with paint all over my glasses and face instead of my paper. The motion is similar to flicking an old thermometer.

Splatter is also a good way to create the foam at the edge of a wave. Again, the splatter provides random splashes that can be brushed out to become a natural edge of the water.

Practice turning splatter into water's edge

I thought of the need for people to make order out of randomness while we sat on a hotel balcony looking down past the poolside paving to the sandy beach beyond. As the sun set, the beach became deserted except for the dips created by thousands of feet crossing over each other leading to the water's edge. 

We came to the hotel to listen to a band concert. The band, standing on the pool deck, faced the balconies of the hotel rooms. As they began to play, people began to drift over to sit in the sand at the back of the band. I watched as they distributed themselves across the sand as if they had a seating chart with equal spaces between groups. I remembered seeing a graph of how four-year-olds spread themselves equally across a room as they played. No matter how we try, we make patterns for ourselves, whether on paper or in real life. 

Right after I published this post, I came across an email from The Postman's Knock, which offers lessons in calligraphy -- wonderful examples. Her topic for today is ink splatters!  I noticed during our Sheltering in Place that many writers chose the same topic to write about, unbeknownst to each other. Great minds think alike!


Collage Artists of America's Annual Juried Show is online to view. One of my mixed media pieces was chosen, but take a look at some of the others. They are terrific!

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