Friday, August 15, 2014

Subtractive Art

I have been pondering subtractive art lately.

I have been fortunate to have been in several art demos from Golden, because they have been invited in by some local stores and art guilds I'm a part of.

Their instructors are AMAZING. Real, life-long artists and product experts, and the demonstrations, while free, are incredibly detailed lessons in both chemistry and technique.

At the most recent demonstration, we got to paint little paintings using a variety of techniques - this is really the way that I remember how to do things, so it's my favorite sort of demonstration.

One of the techniques we learned was subtractive painting. We painted a base color, then another color on top of it, and then removed the top layer in a shape - we did a pear - to reveal the color below.

Simple, but awesome.

I started to get obsessed with subtracting things.

Subtracting is as good as adding you know.

You can subtract bad things. Things that waste your time. Stupid things. Things you don't need. Unpleasant things. It's all good.

Aside from removing acrylic paint and stupid, boring, bad things though, you can also remove stuff from your art with items from your pantry!

One thing that is a fun subtractive technique, is salted watercolor. You put down some watercolor, sprinkle salt, and let it steal some of your color. Here's a sample from a watercolor class I took. The texture in the water is from salt.

But you know what else steals water?


Alton Brown would love this tutorial. Walter White probably would too :)

I decided to use this technique for today's Mix-Ability challenge. Here's the technique.

First, tape a piece of watercolor paper down onto a board. Your paper will warp a lot if you don't.

Next - add OODLES of water and pigment. You can use watercolor - I used Lukas Aquarelle - or sprays, or anything water-based with a lot of pigment. Paint it on thick and goopy and wet.

Sprinkle rice on it. Then walk away. This technique requires patience. Watch a cooking show. Do laundry.

When it's dry, and not a moment before, brush rice off into a container - it can be reused!

Enjoy the results!

I loved watching this develop - so fun. Sort of like a stampy Polaroid.

I decided to use mine with Kinda Eclectic, since I used fall colors.
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So what do you think? Feel like subtracting something?

Come play along :).



  1. I'm sorry but you lost me at "Do laundry."
    J/K... now my hubby will think I'm really crazy if I have a little container of rice in my craft room.

  2. Ooooh, now that is super cool!!!

  3. I LOVE this, and it's totally logical. I wonder what happens if you take the orange & yellow rice and use it on blue next. Does it only absorb, or would there be a transfer of color fro the previous use? Inquiring minds want to know.

    (This has been typed by reaching around Bobra's butt, which is once again on my touch pad.)

  4. I musta missed it, but which sea horse stamp did you use? I would be OH so grateful to watch you paint that over again. Or is there a tutorial already? Pretty please, with gelatos on top?

  5. I just got a water color kit, brushes, and paper and will have to try this!

  6. This was such fun to try.
    But it sure didn't work with my alternate distress re-inker version, which still wasn't dry twelve hours later.
    Love, love your seahorse and the grainy look.
    My inquiring mind also wanted to know the same thing as Leslie - if you recycle your rice do you get colour cross-contamination.

  7. you are so funny, I enjoy your narration, almost as much as your beautiful art.

  8. First time on your blog and I am smiling all the way through it... Love this technique too! Can't wait to try it!


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