Crystal vases are beautiful to behold–even when they stand empty, gathering and splaying rays of light that dance with a tilt of your head. But they present a unique challenge for the artist: the clear glass and refracted light take a patient hand and an understanding that Soon Y. Warren has mastered.
“Portraying cut crystal looks complicated and difficult at first glance,” says Soon. “Creating a painting that has such detail requires both patience and time; however, when you start to break down the large shapes and define each element with light and dark, eventually you’ll define the overall shape and convey the transparency of the glass. In order to show the sparkle of glass, preserve the white of the paper for the highlights using masking fluid. The surrounding colors within the composition define the shadow and color of the glass.”
Masking Fluid Tips from Soon Warren
1. Know that different companies call masking fluid by different names. For example, Grumbacher calls it Miskit; Winsor & Newton calls it Colourless Art Masking Fluid; Grafix uses the name Incredible White Mask.
2. Don’t use your good brushes to apply masking fluid; it will dry on the brush and won’t come off. Instead, use the tip of a brush handle or try toothpicks.
3. Apply and remove masking fluid only after the paper has completely dried. Use rubber cement to pick up to remove dried masking. Run a freshly washed hand over the painting to feel for any spots you may have missed, since they are not easily visible. Leftover dried masking will feel sticky to the touch.
According to Soon, the keys to painting cut crystal in watercolor are a detailed drawing, masking fluid and patient glazing. Click here for a step-by-step demonstration of her painting process. And, don’t miss Soon’s newest DVD, Vibrant Watercolor: Painting Glass.
She’ll make the process clear as, well, crystal!