Continuing in my work through Ray Hendershot’s  “Texture Techniques for Winning Watercolors” I worked on the Stucco Wall exercise yesterday. This exercise focused on using splatters of masking fluid, and splatters of pigment to create texture. I’ve used these particular techniques before, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how strongly these added to the image. I think the splatters were so impactful in this image because the painting is so simplified in most regards.

While I feel like I did well in general, I know that I went about eleven thousand shades too dark on the shadows. Instead of using deep valued neutral tint, I should have relied on a warmer neutral color. Because I went to neutral tint, the shadows feel very dead. This is actually a pretty important revelation because it points out that when shadows are rendered as mere “lack of light” they deaden the surface on which they lie. Instead, I should explore incorporating more color into shadows so that they are more lively.

I also ended up ripping the paper with my masking fluid. (I use Arches, 300lb rough). I don’t know exactly why I’m having trouble with the masking fluid damaging my paper. I haven’t had this problem in a long time, but I rarely use masking fluid to protect large fields. I think I’m going to switch from using masking fluid to using packing tape when I need to mask off large fields. I’ll save masking fluid for lines or splatters – something that it excels at.

I continue to really enjoy painting through this book, and I’m learning a ton by doing so. The biggest thing I’m learning is how important it is to use lighter valued washes as I layer shadows. I have a nasty habit of going too dark too fast – and if I am successful in restraining myself more, I am certain I’ll achieve better results. I also notice how impatient I tend to be. Instead of waiting for preliminary washes to thoroughly dry, I go in too early, and risk cauliflowers, or I rely on a hair dryer. (Maybe that’s why I’m having problems with masking fluid.)

Here’s the painting – I don’t think it’s my favorite painting ever – but the layers of splatters definitely did help create a lot of interest in parts of the painting that were otherwise fairly simple and empty.