Splatter Your Background

pencil and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Field Watercolor Journal

(thanks to Julie Kim whose picture is on Sktchy Museum)

Why is it so hard for many of us to “stay loose”, especially when drawing and painting the figure?

I’ve been seeking the cure for tightness for many years. Here’s what generally helps: 

Speed for one. Set your timer and go for it.

Splatter for two. Load your brush with juicy pigment and fling it across the paper, or tap the brush handle on your finger to knock the drops off the brush.

Willingness to dirty up the page for three.

Spritzing the paper with water so control is lost. (Of course often that results in messes, but sometimes they are messes that work!)

fineliner pen, watercolor, white gouache on beige toned paper

(thanks to E.W. Parris whose pose was on Sktchy Museum)

And painting outside the lines! You can always go back in to delineate shapes with value. And often I’ll glaze the background color into parts of the figure to get color bounce.

my student work from Bianca Rayala’s Etchr workshop: pencil and watercolor

This pose was the source for Bianca Rayala’s Etchr workshop– my copy of what she demonstrated. To get the wonderful splatter background you splatter the colors used in the figure and then spritz with water so that they run and the paint dissolves into parts of the figure, creating lost and found edges. It’s one of those easy techniques that looks hard.

my student work from a Pedro Loureiro workshop on Etchr

More messy drama. Wet on wet background drama and some spicy bounced light for this lovely Guatemalan lady.

Now are you ready to get messy?!

2 comments

  1. Thank you for your helpful tips! I see you took the 30 Faces in 30 days course. I enjoyed the drawings, but the lack of backgrounds made the portraits kind of lifeless. I will try your tips.

    Like

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