Installment 8 of watercolor sketching! After a lighter showing last month, I’m happy to say I’m back to the normal array of paintings for August. Contrary to the usual landscape/realism style, these are primarily surrealist. I’m really quite happy with the “Jellyfish Hair” series, even if it is a tad on the trippy side. I happily welcome your thoughts and any questions about technique.
As a side note, I’ve been asked by a few folks about whether my watercolors are for sale. While there are a few pieces that I do plan to keep for myself, if you are interested, send me a note at kryshiggins at
com and we can chat.
This is how the month started off. Just some simple pretzels with frisket spatter for salt. Who knew I'd end up with Dali-esque jellyfish paintings later?
Jellyfish and Jellyfish Hair
This series is a favorite from August. It started with simple paintings of jellyfish, and over time morphed into surrealist explorations.
Like almost all visitors, I love the contrast of orange jellyfish against the deep turquoise background of their exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Oddly enough, they're called black sea nettles. #TheMoreYouKnow
Portuguese Man-Of-Wars are an amazing branch of the jellyfish family. This sketch pairs their ominous presence with that of an impending storm.
By using liquid frisket and less contrast, I took a different spin on the black sea nettle sketch and made something a bit more geometric.
And here is where things got weird. I'm not quite sure where the idea came from, but it stuck throughout the next few paintings.
Now she's angry! Better volume to the jellyfish in this painting than in the previous one.
The jellyfish hair theme spread across 2 pages of my watercolor sketchbook. Portuguese Man-of-Wars are known for extremely long and deadly tentacles, so this aims to accentuate that.
An attempt to play with atmosphere and caustic effects.
And a similar happy expression in this one. Unfortunately, the result is a little too muddy.
This is only one painting, but it’s of its own theme. I wanted to capture the pattern that appears on the back of a stringray, and partway through I decided I’d do a two-page spread and make the whole ray out to be a kite.
With liquid friskit for the ray's skin patterns.
Under the Sea
The following are two quick explorations of coral reef landscapes, in which the goal was to capture the texture, color and rhythm of the environment instead of the volume or structure.
A fun experiment: A painting made using only a square watercolor brush. Unfortunately, the colors ended up being in the same saturation/brightness range, so there is very little rhythm or composition.
In contrast, this was painted using only a round watercolor brush. This has more variation in color, but still came out a bit flat.
Finally, the month ended with some whimsical pieces very akin to children’s book illustrations.
A better glazing study. This attempts to emulate the style of 1950s candy advertisements by layering simple color glazes over a yellow background wash.
You may recognize my logo character here. He was (and still is) a storybook character.