This demo piece was lurking unfinished in the flat files so I decided to play with the background. I've painted this image twice before, initially with a plain cobalt violet background and then with a deep purple/magenta background of feather shapes. I had found a roller designed for painting walls that has stars scattered over the roller and thought it might work well.
As I usually do before working on the actual painting, I tested my idea on scrap paper. I put the star roller on its handle, poured some masking fluid in a tray and rolled the stars through it, making sure they were well-coated. Then I rolled it carefully across the paper so the stars wouldn't get too distorted. After the masking dried, I brushed a simple wash across it and when that dried, removed the masking with a rubber cement pickup.
Satisfied with my experiment, I cut a frisket film for the duck and rolled a star pattern across the background. After removing the frisket, I painted Winsor violet on the background around the duck, let it dry, and then removed the masking. I painted a deep rose across the entire background and followed that with several more washes to get the color depth I wanted. Unfortunately, the end result was a bit intrusive and the color was dull, so I decided to enhance it a bit with spattered gouache.
Because I would be spattering paint with a toothbrush, I didn't have to make a water-tight seal on the duck image. I cut a piece of frisket film roughly the size of the duck and laid it in place, smoothing it out before trimming it.
With a new X-acto blade in my knife, I gently cut along the outline of the duck and removed the excess film. I pressed it down firmly with my fingers, but did not burnish it down.
Using an enamel tray, I put out small dabs of gouache of a deep magenta, deep ultramarine, and permanent white. I mixed up a medium magenta and a medium blue-purple and spattered them with a flat bristle toothbrush. (Be sure to protect your work surface with newspapers!!) The size of the spatters are related to the amount of water in the paint puddle, so it takes a bit of experimenting to get the size droplets you want. Generally, the more water, the larger the droplets.
I ultimately used five or six different shades of magenta and purple, spattering until I was satisfied with the appearance of the background. (Note that, unlike watercolor which dries lighter than it appears when wet, gouache dries slightly darker.) Then I removed the frisket, pulled the masking tape off the edge of my painting, and signed it. You can see that there was a significant amount of leakage under the tape. This is not a serious problem, since I always mat my paintings, but I prefer a cleaner edge on my non-demo work. I normally use a better tape for protecting the border -- Nichiban tape -- which I discussed in this blog post a while back.
Here, once again, is the finished painting!
Dippy Duck #3
watercolor, 8" x 8"