Monday, January 27, 2014

Ruddy Duck Revisited...

watercolor & gouache, 9" x 9"
Chris Beck

Back in October, I was asked to present the program for one of the local art clubs and decided to take a slightly different approach than I usually do.  Instead of working on a series showing the progression from start to finish on one image, I took several unfinished demo pieces that had accumulated in my studio and played around with them a bit.  I had hoped to share things sooner, but I left early the next morning to visit my mother and help downsize her living situation yet again. By the time I got home a week later, other tasks required my attention and this unfortunately slipped out of mind.

You may remember our old friend Ruddy Duck. Ruddy has starred in a number of demos over the past few years.  This was how he looked at the start of the demo:

I added the word "quack" up the side of the painting, using gouache with some oversize alphabet stamps that I found by chance at Rileystreet Art Supply in Santa Rosa, CA when I went to a product expo event there.

Because it looked pretty stark after I stamped the letters onto the painting, I decided to soften the image with spattered gouache.  I cut a mask for the duck out of low-tack Contact paper (you could also use frisket paper) and pressed it lightly against the image with my fingers.  Then I mixed up various colors of gouache on a spare palette tray and used a flat-bristle toothbrush to spritz it over the background and letters.

I used ultramarine blue, spectrum yellow, flame red, and burnt sienna, along with white to brighten up some of the colors. As you can see, I've customized the toothbrush I use to spatter paint. I used a heat gun to soften the handle just enough to bend it so it has a better angle for mixing paint on the palette.

I have a few other examples that I'll be sharing as soon as possible.  Right now I'm working on a large painting for an invitational watercolor biennial in Belgium this summer, so that takes precedence.


  1. Very cool. Thanks for sharing, Chris -- I sometimes forget that we can experiment and play. This is a great post for reinforcing that sentiment. :)

    1. Yes, it's easy to get wrapped up being "serious" -- but we do need to play too. Glad you liked it!!


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