Grasses – Calligraphy, Masking and Wet-into-wet

“Canal Grassses”

This was another painting done in preparation for my final watercolor class with a texture focus. I say texture, but really this one was about practicing some calligraphy brush strokes we learned the first week of the class.

Stage 1 – Masking

The 7.5″x5.5″ painting was completed using the backside of Fabriano Artistico 140lb cold press paper. I first masked off some whites for the grasses in the light, using Pebeo Drawing Gum. This type of masking comes out in a thin inky flow and dries to medium gray, though perhaps with a slight blue tinge. I learned in a poured painting that it is not a good idea to use a blow drier on the masking, as that melts the fluid into the paper. While the masking dried naturally, I worked on two other paintings (see previous blog post “High Desert Spring”) that also involved masking and drying times <smile>.

I came back to the painting after the masking had completed dried back. You can tell when it is dry because it changes from a milky opaque state to a translucent gray tone. I then wet the whole surface and dabbed it off with a paper towel, so it was not sopping wet.

Stage 2 – First wash

I used Hansa Yellow Light, Pyrrol Red, Cascade Green (all Daniel Smith), and Ultramarine Light (Holbein) pigments. I created a slight angle on my board and began painting with the blue, the quickly added the yellow. I returned to blue, added red, and more blue, but left a big patch of yellow alone. I wanted the mix to be a murky brown tone. About 1/3 down the paper I switched to just a blue flat wash, strengthening the pigment as I progressed down the page. I also left some random white areas for a sparkle effect on the water’s surface. After completing the blue wash, I added some Pyrrol red calligraphy strokes to imply reflections from the grasses, taking care to make sure the pigment strength was equal to or stronger than the wet blue below (to avoid back runs). I went over the top of the red with more strong blue. I then painted some grasses with a mix of yellow, green and blue while the paper surface was still quite wet. This allowed for soft edges all around.

Stage 3 – Remove Masking

I then let the painting dry completely (I worked on another painting during the drying time to avoid being “tempted” to go back in too soon or use the blow drier). I removed the masking, and painted more grasses using all four pigments.

I softened the transition to the hard white edges left by the masking using mostly yellow and some gentle scrubbing. Since Ultramarine is a lifting pigment, I was able to pull it off. I also added some dark calligraphy strokes behind the white edges.

“Canal Grasses” – Final Painting

And voila! “Canal Grasses” came to life. It appears to be a scene at dusk, which it wasn’t, but I liked it better that way.

Click on images for a larger view. Process images are taken from video screenshots, so are not the best quality. I appreciate all comments, questions, and suggestions. Thank you for stopping by,

See video preview. Click the link at left or see below for a hint at the painting process.

If you’re interested in purchasing the full 20-minute narrated video (only $6), you can purchase through PayPal with an account or credit/debit card using the “Add to Cart” button below. Shoot me a blog comment or contact me through my website if you prefer another payment method. Nevada residents will incur sales tax.


Video Link (20 minutes, narrated or captioned) $6

If interested in purchasing this original painting, you can add that to your cart too! for $150 (with black frame and white black core mat). Shipping is $15.00 if purchased with a PayPal account or credit/debit card. Check payments and/or deliveries outside the continental U.S. will pay additional shipping. Taxes additional, where applicable (Nevada residents).

“Canal Grasses” with Frame/Mat $150


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