Posts Tagged ‘masking fluid’

Using frisket to reserve the paper’s white

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

In the March 15 entry, I wrote about various methods of reserving the white of watercolor paper.  One of those methods is the use of frisket, or masking fluid.

Arbor Gate, Spring (detail)

The tiny white blossoms at the corner of the fence in this detail from “Arbor Gate” (#090702) were reserved using liquid frisket.

If you want to try using frisket yourself, start with a throw-away brush and wet it thoroughly before dipping it into the frisket fluid, which will dry quickly and tend to glue the bristles together.  Redip the brush in water (or better yet, a solution of dish detergent and water) between dips into the frisket—no more than 20 seconds apart—to keep the bristles from sticking together.  Wash the brush thoroughly as soon as you are finished if you ever want to be able to use it again.

The frisket itself may or may not be tinted.  It’s easier to see its location on the paper if it has a tint, but even if it is not tinted, you will be able to identify areas of dried frisket on your paper because of the slight sheen those areas will have.

Especially if the frisket fluid is tinted and you see a layer of color lying at the bottom of the bottle, you may feel tempted to shake the bottle to mix it up.  Don’t do it! Shaking the frisket bottle will incorporate air into it, which will introduce bubbles into the “juice” your wet brush picks up.  If you spread bubbles onto your paper, the frisket will not go onto the paper smoothly, and the bubbles may pop as the frisket dries, leaving you with uncovered spots in the area you were trying to mask.

As soon as you are finished using the frisket, replace the lid tightly to inhibit evaporation.  You may have to periodically remove long, rubbery strands and globs from both the mouth of the bottle and the bottle cap to be sure they don’t interfere with a secure seal.

Allow the applied frisket to dry completely before painting over it.  When all your paint layers have been applied and the surrounding paint is thoroughly dry—no longer cool when you touch it with the back of your hand—use a “pickup” or white eraser to lightly roll or pluck the frisket off the paper.  (I recommend testing the dryness of the paper only with the back of your hand because your palms and fingertips are more inclined to leave oily deposits on the paper.  Your natural body oils will interfere with any subsequent paint you may wish to lay down onto the surface of the paper.)

What does a new subject matter?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Cayman Cockerel

I’ve been having fun painting various animals this spring, including this colorful rooster.  His lines and blend of colors intrigued me, so I was inspired to reproduce his likeness in watercolor.  Typical of birds throughout Grand Cayman, I found this one strutting his stuff in Hell.  (Yes, that really is the name of a village there.)

When I paint the same subject repeatedly, I tend to get into a rut, using the same techniques and similar colors.  When I try a new subject like this one, however, it’s easier to break out of that rut to try new techniques, experiment with color or lighting, and give myself a chance to really grow as an artist.

In this painting I used more wet-in-wet painting technique than I have had a tendency to do in the past.  I didn’t entirely abandon my wet-on-dry technique, incorporating it for the sake of feather texture.  I also used masking fluid in some areas and found it beneficial to lift some of the color, particularly in the tail and wing feathers and to soften the edges of the masked areas.  But I also took the opportunity to play with the foreground a bit, splattering it with various colors of paint, echoing those used in the bird, to simulate gravel.  The background wash has also been lightly sprinkled with clear water to add texture and interest to the understated haze.

Like many pictures I’ve taken of animals, the photos did not come out exactly as I would have preferred, but I was able to make necessary adjustments for the sake of the painting.  The bird’s body was incorporated from one photograph; the face and wattle (resized to fit) were from another.