Tag Archives: experiment

pointillism experiment finished

The artist that invented pointillism, Seurat, had his color theory down to a science. I wish I knew how he did it but I see so many variations of pointillism I guess most artists put their own spin on it.

close up

Last week when I got to Back Bay the clouds were so pretty I couldn’t resist trying to paint them. It was windy and the clouds were moving fast. I got some general shapes dotted in for the cloud shadows and when I wanted to puff them up with more volume they were all different so I decided to wing it when I got home.

I can’t tell if this experiment is working or not. If it’s not, and you can tell me how to improve next time, please don’t be afraid to advise me. I’m not sensitive about a critique and I don’t feel emotionally attached to my paintings, so my feelings don’t get hurt easily if it’s a flop.

cloud close up

The thing about painting at home is there are too many distractions here. When I go out to paint in plein air I’m leaving everything behind and concentrating on the drawing and painting. It might seem like people out in public would be a worse distraction but the people don’t bug me. I like when someone is interested in what I’m doing. Most of the time I’m alone out there except for walkers passing through.

masking fluid on oil paint experiment / 2021

a close up of my new, still unfinished painting

The masking fluid saved the orange dots in the water when I painted blue and gray on top of the masking fluid on top of the orange tint.

When the paint was dry I scratched off the bumps of paint on top of masking fluid with my fingernail. After I do the dishes my fingernail will be ok but there’s some paint discoloring it. That’s a normal fingernail for an artist. If you try this maybe you will think of a better way to do it than scraping with your fingernail.

People say masking fluid doesn’t work on oil paint. They are misinformed. If I can make it work, you can do it. I’ll give you the tips.

First, tint the paper or canvas with a thin wash in the color you want to save with masking fluid. They will tell you masking fluid doesn’t stick to oil paint but if you thin the paint enough with terpenoid you break down the oil and when it dries the pigments have less binding them to the paper and they get a little powdery. I brush off dry loose pigments with a paper towel before painting the masking fluid on it. The bright orange left plenty of color.

Second step, paint the masking fluid on the dry oil paint tint.

Third step, use a deer foot brush to put paint on top of the masking fluid without lifting it. If you use a stiff brush it might make the masking fluid come off but this brush which works great for stenciling won’t lift your masking fluid. You can build up a few layers of glazes and still see where the masking fluid makes bumps under your colors.

When it’s dry scrape off the bumps and Voila! masking fluid saved your bright dots or lines! This is easier than trying to paint bright orange dots on top of the blue and gray glazes because the orange is a semi transparent color and it shows up bright on a plain white paper or canvas but if you want to have bright orange dots on top of the blues and grays you have to take the time to under paint the dots with white and wait for the white to dry then do the orange on white.

So, yeah, if someone tells me it won’t work I might try to do it anyway. I learn the hard way sometimes but I’m not afraid of failure and once in a while something works for me and others don’t try at all. I could say I’m hard headed like my Mom or I could be a skeptic like my Dad or an unholy mix of the two. hahahahah

painting experiments with oils in progress

There are two experiments happening here, pointillism and masking fluid on oil paint.

I can’t find much technical advice on pointillism, like did the pointillists do an underpainting? Did they mix colors or use paint straight out of the tube? Are the dots supposed to touch, overlap or should there be space between all the dots? I’m going to have to guess. I know the rules of the academy. If I knew the rules of pointillism I’d try to stick to them for the learning process. Maybe there are no rules.

There’s an app for making dots if you like to do digital paintings, but I’m not into apps and it might be better for me to just wing it so I can improve my painting skill.

In this close up you can see the masking fluid dots which are covered by ultramarine blue.

I want to save some bright orange dots to represent shiny reflections of the sky on the water. It would be easier to have bright orange dots showing ( if this works) than if I paint the orange on top of the water when I’m finished with painting the water dots because the orange is a transparent color and if I want to put orange on top of blue and gray dots I’d have to underpaint them with white like I did with my azaleas, which are a transparent pink. I need to put water colored gray dots on top of the blue and that will make a thicker layer of paint on top of the masking fluid and also take over a week to dry before I can try to take the masking fluid off the painting to show the orange dots. It might not work out or it might work. Either way, I’ll post the results.

This is a color experiment in more than one way. I under painted my paper with orange because it’s the complimentary color of blue. The sky isn’t really blue but kind of hazy when I go to Back Bay lately. And the water isn’t really blue but kind of a mixture of two different grays.

You can see the underpainting of the foliage on the opposite shore. I did it with a red gray because it’s mainly a greenish gray and the red gray would be the complimentary color.

This was a real no no at the academy, tinting the painting with an unnatural color to start. They would call this “forcing color”. It might take away any depth and the academy was into creating the illusion of depth. Modern art doesn’t care about aerial perspective which is the illusion of depth. Pointillists were modern.

I often see a landscape with a bright tint showing that isn’t there in nature. Some artists like violet or red and will tint their canvas with a bright color because the landscape around here doesn’t have any bright colors and the artist doesn’t like to paint mostly grays. You can see spots of violet or red or some color showing through between brush strokes. It’s a modern look and it does take away any aerial perspective. When I see a bright tint showing through I say to myself, “forced color is weak.” Now I’m doing it.

This is 18 x 12. Dotting the whole paper will take some time. That’s ok. Patience is my super power! hahahah

spider webs w song

I saw the webs in my head once.

It wasn’t my imagination and I wasn’t hallucinating. I wanted to buy new glasses so I was at the optometrist and he wanted to look at my retina. He shined a light through my pupil and I saw red flashing squiggly lines on a black background. I asked what it was and he said its the blood vessels on my retina.

I thought of Ray Charles. I wonder if an eye doctor looked at Ray’s retina and he saw the same thing and since he never saw a spider web he thought the squiggly lines looked like a spider web.

Did you ever see this weird visual phenomenon? And if you saw it did you know what it was or did your brain file it under weird like mine did?

This painting is palette knife drawing practice. I thought of a way to make curved lines. My palette knife isn’t flexible enough so I cut the edge off a magazine cover and used the edge of it, bending it slightly to drop in curved lines to contrast to the straight lines scraped in off the edge of the palette knife.

The background is random palette knife scrapings.

3rd palette knife painting w. closeups

I have a plan for another subject using this technique.

This is the last time I’ll use my sketches of the butterfly ginger for the palette knife painting. The next thing I’d like to try it on is the spooky battery at Ft. Monroe which I started sketching a couple years ago and put on hold on account of the weird vibes I picked up at the fort. I want to try again to finish a painting of the battery which might or might not be haunted.

Since the palette knife makes it comes out all wavy I think it might give that big imposing scary piece of architecture a more moody look. It will be all different shades of gray, some warm grays and some cool grays.

This is a negative shape for the viewer’s eye to go into and rest.

I want to try making different textures with the palette knife. For the background on this painting I used the short flat edge of the odd shaped palette knife to scrape two shades of greenish gray in a thin layer with some peaks of the dark gray tint of the canvas showing through.

This technique uses up a lot of paint.

First I squirted a blob of Viridian green on my palette. It’s dark. I added terpenoid a few drops at a time until the paint was runny. I thought my big blob of paint would be enough to paint these dark green areas but I misjudged the amount of paint I needed and had to use more.

When I mixed my lighter greens I used big blobs of paint and still didn’t have enough mixed up. When mixing colors it’s better to have too much paint mixed that to not have enough and I usually mix the right amount for what I want to paint with only a small bit left over but with the palette knife it’s harder to estimate.

The last color I used was white and I put a huge blob of it on my palette then added so much more paint that I thought it looked like I’d be wasting paint but it was exactly the right amount to finish the flowers.

Now I have to buy more paint.

2nd palette knife painting w close ups

This one came out better than my first attempt.

I did the whole thing with palette knives and split it up over two different days letting the gray green background and the light gray of the flowers dry overnight. The paint was still wet the next day but only slightly dried which helped my brighter greens and white from mixing in as much. So I did layers but I don’t know if that’s how other artists do a palette knife painting.

It was fun and I’ll do another one.

The good thing about a palette knife painting is that you don’t have to clean brushes. The bad thing is that this will take months to dry. I can put it in my outside closet where it will be out of danger.

This time I went over the background twice to add more texture.

The dark green paint was soupy and it ran off my palette knife nicely. I thinned it with terpenoid.

It reminded me of my cake decorating days.

The white paint was like soft icing.

It’s practically impossible to keep the edges sharp.

The palette knife is harder to control than a paint brush. You have to be careful how you scrape up the paint off the palette so it’s on the knife in a good position to make a blob where you want the blob. Paint goes where you don’t want it to go. Most of the time I just let it there but a couple times I scraped up a big blob that fell in a bad place.

Flower Children Dancing


watercolor and Inktense pencils







Art from my subconscious / good or bad?

I can’t tell if it’s working on any level or if it sux. Feel free to opine or critique without worrying about hurting my feelings. I don’t have any emotions toward this experiment. (and that’s the best way to approach an experiment, just try something and see what happens.) If you studied psych this might give you some insight into my subconscious brain. If you see anything, let me know, crazy or sane, doesn’t matter either.

I didn’t make plans or do sketches first. The only thing I decided was to have fun on a cloudy day when I didn’t want to go out because it was a holiday and would be crowded at the places I like to go. The other thing I decided before starting was to use yellow pink and green.

First, I spattered yellow on the paper ala Jackson Pollock to get a loose start. Then when the yellow dried I wet the paper and blobbed two pinks in around the yellow. While the paper was still wet I scribbled in some lines with the Inktense pencils. When that dried I blocked my flowers off with masking fluid and painted the background green. Then masked off the lighter green lines and went over it again with dark green.

When it’s all dry, rub off the masking fluid and VOILA!

I like this product, but opening the bottle can be frustrating.

Those dang lids where you have to press down while turning.

Once in a while I can open the bottle with no problem but sometimes I try and try until my hand gets tired and it won’t open. One time I broke a lid off a bottle of masking fluid with a wrench. That’s how bad it is.

Yesterday I got a call from a friend and she asked me what I was doing. I said trying to open this stupid bottle. She told me to run it under hot water. I said that won’t help. The lid isn’t glued shut. I can turn it. It just won’t unscrew. Again she said run it under hot water so I said ok. I ran hot water over it for a few minutes and when the bottle warmed up the lid came off! I celebrated that happening with loud insane laughter that my neighbors might have heard because my windows were open.

Now I know the trick to opening these poorly designed bottle caps. I guess my crazy friend knows a thing or two.

This masking fluid is great for adding texture to a watercolor. A few years ago I tried using it on an oil painting, which I was told doesn’t work, but it does work if you use it over thinned oil paint with no medium mixed in. And I keep seeing people are still reading those old posts which is a mystery to me how they find my old masking fluid on oil paint experiments.

If you want to use this product the most important thing to remember is to put soap on your brush first. It’s impossible to clean the brush if you don’t put soap on it first and the brush will get gummed up and ruined. With soap on it you can rinse the brush in water to clean it and use more soap to be sure to get all the masking fluid out of the brush.

skinny-dipping / watercolor abstract

IMG_2314

I bought raw Sienna, burnt Sienna and cobalt blue. This is a test of transparency and how the colors look overlapping and blending. I made it fun by doing a skinny-dipping abstract. The colors look better in real life than they do in this photo. A big part of improving my watercolors is to do random color swatches until I’m more familiar with the paint. It might seem like a huge waste of time and paper, but every step counts toward the goal of mastering the medium, which could take years, so there’s no rush, or limit on supplies I’ll go through. Now I know I’ll enjoy using these colors together and I like the blends I got.

Spirit Horse Head in Clouds

IMG_2312

It’s a clouds experiment. I can’t tell if it looks like clouds to the viewer or not. If it looks like something else, that’s what it is. I painted it in Plein air from my balcony with watercolor and the clouds were moving. I used masking fluid on my fan brush and white oil paint stick first to block out some white and to see if I could make a soft and fluid cloud texture. When it was dry I rubbed off the masking fluid with an eraser.

The horse is another drawing with a black oil paint stick taped to a yardstick to make it fun.

I’m just goofing around at home with the horses for models and trying different things with watercolors but I’m going to get back out in plein air tomorrow and get back to the landscape next.

The weather is improving.  YEA!