Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How and Why

How Did I Do That?

For years I did watercolors that started with a pattern of overlapping washes that acted as a launching pad for more representational images. I have tried to show a few of them here. These paintings usually led to many “How did you do” queries and not a few “Why did you dos” as well. This was especially true at Outdoor Art Fairs where I was available for asking.

The HOW TO for straight lines…

The quick answer, I used paper tape. Specifically, I used low tack drafting or masking tape, but only after sticking and pulling it off my apron or blue jeans a few times. The idea is to keep the sticky stuff off the watercolor paper. It also helps to run a fingernail along the tape edge. This prevents seeping under line. I learned this somewhere years ago in a watercolor class. Thanks, whoever you were or are.

Note 1: The paper must be dry. If another layer is to cross the first then the first must dry before the second is applied.

Note 2: To prevent chaos it is best to limit the number of different angles. Make successive layer edges parallel to preceding ones.

Note 3: Once the lines are set, a steady hand is all that it required to run a second wash over all or part of an area.

Yes, the same thing can be accomplished with a pencil line and a steady hand from the start but the pencil line is difficult to remove and could call too much attention to what is a background element in the design.

Curves make interesting backgrounds as well.

These are more easily done with freehand washes. The same notes apply.

As for the other question: Why do I do that? It is a way to ease into a painting and it usually brings some unintended effects that make the process fun. I am a pattern person. I doodle in patterns while on the phone or waiting somewhere.

Pattern Paint. Try it, you might like it.


  1. Beautiful, Marge! You have such a great sense of color. The Noah's Ark piece is so fun! I could look at it for hours.

    Thanks for the tips!

  2. Wow these are beautiful Marge! Just love your Noah’s Ark in so many ways.