Spattering Excitement

Spattering is a painting technique in which paint is flung, with the flick of a brush, onto the painting surface. Most often associated with watercolor, this technique is used to create interesting textural effects, as in Summertime (at right) where I spattered over the flowers with a variety of colors.

To try spattering, lay your painting and a test sheet flat on a worktable. Then load your brush with color and make several practice runs by spattering on the test sheet. (This lets you determine the right amount of paint for the look you’re after.) Next hold the brush parallel to your painting surface and tap it across one of your fingers. Tapping gently produces a pattern of mostly small, round dots of random size. Tapping harder produces larger, splat-like marks. You can also expand on this idea by spraying spattered marks with a light mist of water, as I did in two of the examples at right. No matter how you use it, spatter is a great way to add extra touches of excitement to your art.

Watercolorist Catherine Anderson is the author of Basic Watercolor Answer Book (North Light Books).

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