Rivulet Painting

Today’s watercolor experiment:

A big thank you to Weisserwatercolours for the inspiration for today’s experiment. He sent me a link to a tutorial demonstration of how to compose ‘rivulet’ paintings. Yesterday, I tried my hand at a splatter painting, adding some spice to it (salt, actually), to see how what kind of patterns would result.

Thus far, I have only watched the first part of the video, but have learned some interesting things to try. For example, using non-staining, earth tones such as burnt or raw umbers yield interesting patterns when they are added to paper and allowed to drip when the paper is held vertically. I used this method but should really try using a spray bottle to add excess water.

I have had good luck with a watercolor called Moonglow (a Daniel Smith pigment). It is grainy, like the clay earth tones, but exhibits grains of two different kinds of pigment.  I applied Moonglow thickly, together with burnt umber and turquoise blue, in different areas, on pre-wet paper. I lifted the paper vertically and allowed the pigments to flow.

Watercolor: Abstract - Drip Painting

Drip Painting
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

The author of the video superimposed this rivulet technique on a background sketch. As of this moment I just want to experiment with the rivulets: lifting colors, adding different combinations of colors, using brush strokes and/or blooming techniques with salt or clear water.

Thank you again Lance, at Weisserwatercolours for the video. I appreciate it.


Today’s watercolor experiment:

I enjoy working with wet watercolor paper. The first application of color gives me an idea of what to do next. This is particularly true for abstract painting. A runny color suggests one thing, a color blob may suggest another.  I have known for a while that if clear water is applied to semi-wet paper, it will displace the pigment and leave interesting reticulated rings. I made use of this technique in yesterday’s painting, by using a wet brush to splatter clear water onto the drying painting.

My experience with kidney stones over the past week or so has given me a new perspective about ‘splatter’ painting. Today, I wet the paper as usual, applied cerulean blue in the center and Prussian blue at the edges.

Apropos of my current stage of kidney stone recovery (literally), I sprinkled crystals of salt on the still-wet paper. I had heard that watercolorists use salt crystals for certain effects in their paintings, but had never tried it myself. I loved the effect, the way the salt interacted with the pigment.

After the initial stage dried, I brushed off the salt, rewet the paper and dripped some gamboge (a yellow pigment) onto the composition and let it dry.

Finally after re-dampening the paper, I gently brushed some winsor red into places where the salt displaced the pigment. When the brush was nearly exhausted of red paint, I used it to suggest two curved surfaces straddling the middle section of the painting.

Watercolor: Abstract - Splatter Painting

Splatter Painting
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


Today’s experiment was successful. The reticulations that resulted from the interaction of the pigment with the salt did not continue to diffuse in the way that splashes of water did. I’m sure I will be using this technique again.


I’m OK

Thank you everyone who has been following my personal drama. I came out of the kidney stone procedure with flying… colors, I guess you could say.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I started this morning (the day of the surgery) by imagining all the dream images I would be privy to under anesthesia: The wicked witch of the east, together with the tornado; the wrecking ball; the rock of Gibraltar and the laser gun.  I thought that I could put together a great production number, ala Salvador Dali’s dream sequence from Hitchcock’s Vertigo; a variation of Sam Spade’s journey after he was hit by a sap and his voice over said, “a dark hole opened up at my feet and I jumped right in,” from Murder My Sweet; or even Humphrey Bogart’s character’s unconscious encounter with his plastic surgeon in Dark Passage.

Watercolor and Pen and Ink - Abstract with Icons

Apprehension Ingredients

But it was not to be.

A few moments after speaking to the anesthesiologist, they wheeled me somewhere (I was flat on my back looking up without my glasses) and the next think I knew, I was back where the anesthesiologist spoke to me.

Nothing.  I remember that my Dad wondered out loud to me, after he came out of heart surgery, if I thought death would be like that split second of nothingness that took place during anesthesia, only lasting forever. I told him I thought that it was a plausible supposition, although there is a deep level of consciousness during anesthesia, there is none in death.

Here is the rest of today’s experiment:

Watercolor and Pen and Ink: Abstract with Icons and Red Below the Eyelashes

Apprehensions and Disconfirmation
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block



I write this the night before my kidney stone operation. I saw the doc this morning (5.20.15) and he scheduled me for tomorrow (5.21.15) at 3PM.

I was never good at that game ‘Operation’. My hands shook a bit too much. Here’s hoping that my surgeon was better at it than I.

The doc told me that there was no way that this pea-sized stone (and its baby brother) would pass on their own. He told me that options would present themselves depending upon what he saw when he snaked (ouch) a stent through the only available route (ooh). [I’m crossing my legs as I write this.]  Fortunately, I’ll be unconscious during all this.  I don’t really remember much of what he said after his introduction. Something about  blasting it with a laser or with some kind of submersion gadget. He did mention something about more pain after it is all over. I think that was depending on which option he chose.

Below is a schematic depiction of my impending operation.

Watercolor: Standing Figure with Kidneys

16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block

Pain and Concentration

My pain started again. This time it started gradually on my lower left side. I tried lying back and visualizing it. It seemed to be a yellow glow. I thought if I acknowledged its presence with my mind and breathed in and out calmly, it would abate. “Breathe in. Think of all the energy coming into my left side. Hold. Breathe out. All the pain energy leaves my left side, leaving calm muscles, pain lessens…[repeat],” I thought to myself.

It didn’t work. It got worse, in fact. Other parts of my body relaxed. My shoulders listened to my initial all-bodyparts call for calmness. But shoulders are among the dumbest muscle groups. They’ll listen to anything and try to obey.

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I wanted to depict a sense of concentration interrupted, so I began with the interruptor: the latex resist.

I poured out a bit and was going to twirl my paper like it was pizza dough, to get the centripetal forces spreading the liquid latex, but that didn’t work. The splatter pattern was good enough, however to accomplish my purpose.

I inked in a couple of closed eyelids with black india ink.

I began painting by making a disk of hansa yellow and surrounded it with Prussian blue so they would mix. In the center of the yellow disk, I dropped some winsor red.

After the first layer dried, I created a ring of lemon yellow pigment around the existing red spot and introduced cadmium red light into the center. I allowed them to mix by using my brush to joining the two pools of pigment. Then I once again used Prussian blue around the periphery of the yellow ring to get a third pigment-mixing interface.

After stripping off the rubber resist, I inked the edges with different color inks and painted the internal area with ink instead of watercolor paint.

Watercolor and Pen and Ink: Abstract Expressionistic

16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


The serene mixing of colors in this composition is interrupted by a foreign object. That is what I wanted to depict: A knife through the visualization of pain, causing the failure of concentration. A different visual interpretation could be that some complex shape is floating over an already diffused mixture of colors. The mechanism of the mind hasn’t touched the pain or influenced it in any way. It is floating above it, observing.

I have to brush up on my neurophilosophy, but I get the sense that mind and body are inextricably linked. There is no duality, no “mind substance” different than “body substance”. I believe that the mind part of the body observes as well as influences the body in all its conscious and unconscious functions.

The fact that I can’t influence my own pain with my mind is only a testament to my poorly trained, out of touch “mindbody“. I use this term in the same spirit as the term “spacetime” describes a post Newtonian way of looking at space.

Engine of Consciousness

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I had no idea about the topic of my study today except that I wanted to start with a random placement of liquid latex on my paper. I’m always surprised by the outcome, and it gives me the opportunity to think during each stage of the creation.

Steps in my process today:

1. Latex resist application:

I was happy to find that I had some latex resist which was still in its liquid form. I had thrown away a couple of bottles in which the contents had clotted.  I felt much more freedom today pouring onto a large 12″x16″ surface than when I used to pour it onto smaller paper.

At first I was thinking trying to form a sort of curtain with the drips from the latex. It didn’t work out. However, the drips I produced by tilting the paper were actually more to my liking. I turned the paper by 90 degrees and tilted the paper again. The results reminded me a bit of the squares of Mondrian.

2. Washes:

As with my post, Waves and Reflections, I first washed the paper with Prussian blue, darker at the bottom than at the top. I dampened the paper again and applied the waves in broad strokes of Prussian Blue, narrowing them as I moved up the paper.

I have been using ink in the past few experiments. I wanted a nice blot in the middle of the paper so I dripped some dark blue calligrapher’s ink in the amidst the plexus of latex resist. It blended with the surrounding Prussian blue.

For one final wash, I used cerulean blue beginning at the top, and washed around the blue of the ink spot. I use cerulean for sky colors. I used a dry brush in an attempt to lighten certain areas in the same manner as I did when I applied the Prussian blue-laden brush on the bottom half of the paper.

3. Ink outlines:

I used the blue ink to outline most of the border of the dried latex. I knew that when the latex would be removed, the area below it would be white.  I was waiting for it to be revealed before I planned the next step.

4. Inside the lines:

I thought that a contrasting color would ‘pop’ if I put it in the white space. I began applying cadmium orange with a thin brush leaving white space at the edges. Then I brushed in ‘sunshine yellow’ ink between the orange and the blue edge.

The next idea was painting each enclosed, blue-outlined space with a different color. Since yellow inside a tube is a reminder of my current physical issue (kidney stone), I decided to go with a ‘body’ motif. For instance, I constructed a blood circulatory system. Right of center,where there were two parallel channels. I painted one red and the other blue. Where they met with a connecting channel, the colors mixed to form purple. I filled another channel with bile green and another descending channel with lumps of burnt sienna.

Inside the complex manifold space just below the center spot, I created a representation of folds and mounds (sulci and gyri), found in the thinking part of the body.

Here is the result:

Watercolor and Ink: Abstract - Blue Washes with Ink Outlined Latex-Resisted Areas

Engine of Consciousness
12″x16″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


My machine-like, digital construction is superimposed on a smoothly-varying, ethereal background. My imaginary engine is greater than the sum of its parts and has created its own background, its reality.

Behind the Curtain

Today’s watercolor experiment: another ‘stab’ at pain (pun intended):

I like to understand. Slowly things come into focus. The first thing that came to my mind when I was told, “you have a kidney stone,” was a small rock inside my kidney. Then my doc said, “the pain stops once the stone leaves the ureter and drops into the bladder.” News to me.  Since I need pictures help me understand, I turned to my trusty anatomy book illustrated by the famous Frank H. Netter, M.D.  His section about the kidney was the basis of today’s watercolor.


I used my HB pencil to copy one of the pages depicting the kidneys from one of Netter’s anatomy book. To this figure, I added in some red waves (using techniques from Waves and Reflections) to represent waves of pain. While the paper was still damp, I dripped some red ink in the area of the kidney stone. In the bladder area, I made blue waves. Blue is a cool color and represents a calming relief from pain.

I used yellow gauche to paint an asterisk stone on top of one of the red ink spots. The gauche does not soak in to the underlying color.

I painted in the major vein and artery and used blue ink to outline the ureter. After the stone, I inked the ureter red.

To avoid the look of an anatomy book page, I obscured them with some neutral tint and permanent mauve. The result was a literal visual ‘pulling back the curtain’ on the mystery of what was going on in my gut.

Watercolor: Abstract - Kidneys, Stones and Pain

Behind the Curtain
16″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


I put in red ink arrows radiating from the stone and an orange asterisk below the bladder which, I anticipate, will be where the real pain will occur in a week or two.



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