Sunday, January 13, 2013

Alternate watercolour techniques

Jobson_Frozen Pond
                                                                 Frozen Pond
                                                          Mixed Media     6” x 18”
Its good to flex my artistic boundaries and play around with the interaction between the real world and that which is on paper.  One way to do this is through frozen watercolour.  Of course being in a northern climate, it makes it a little easier during winter to be able to test this out.

Frozen watercolour is a technique of exposing very wet watercolour pigments on a paper surface to freezing temperatures.  The result is unpredictable, always different and quite unique.

In the painting at the top of this post, Frozen Pond, I wet just the water section of the painting before freezing so I would only obtain the patterning on that section of the piece. The majority of the frost patterning is on the right of the painting, just where I wanted it. I used optimal temperatures for this piece and in the image below, it was much colder.  You can see the difference in results for the formation of ice crystals.  They are longer and sharper then in the lower temperatures.

ice 2-1 sm      fish 2

I hope to create a full  tutorial on the subject, but will share what I have learned here if you would like to try this technique yourself.

1.  I have found that optimum temperatures are between –5C and –7C (23F – 19F) that produce the classic feathery frost patterning.  If very cold (-12C – 10F plus) the patterns formed are random sharp crystals.

2.  A domestic freezer will not produce temperatures low enough to affect the water on the surface.  It will freeze but with no resulting pattern.

3.  Wind and humidity play a role in the pattern formation and you have no control over the end results.

4.  The paper must be flooded with water, then very strong pigment washes dropped onto the surface, then quickly placed outside on a flat surface.

5.  Allow about 30 minutes for the freezing process to take place.

6. The best watercolour paper to use is 200lb if not stretched.  140lb MUST be stretched prior to the freezing or it will buckle when wet and the crystals will form in the wetter areas.

7.  Each and every time will provide a different result, based on weather, wind, humidity, paper, pigment, amount of water, etc.

8.  An image can be painted and let dry then glazed with wet washes that freeze over the original painting. (see fish above)


RH Carpenter said...

You've gotten some great shapes and colors in this and made the crystalized technique work for you very well. I remember reading about this years ago on WetCanvas but just did a search, trying to figure out who started it and it looks like 2 artists claim it as their own specialized technique - Kathleen Conover and Arso Ivanovich (from Yugoslavia now in Wisconsin). Kathleen uses it for abstracts but Arso does everything, using the crystalized technique as a background to even do figurative work. Very interesting and fun to do - if you don't mind the cold! ha ha


..beautiful results and textures thanks for explaining the sound if you have ideal conditions jeanette ..might snow this week so i hope to try .. ...have you ever left the paper out over night .

Angelsdoor * Penny said...

Happy New Year Jeanette,
Thank you so much for sharing this
technique.. I would like to try it. Not often we have freezing weather, but now would be a good time.

Your work is just beautiful.

Vicki Greene said...

I really like your results. I would enjoy trying this but since I live in Florida I must enjoy it from afar.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way to make use of our cold Canadian climate. Although here in Southern Ontario the weekend has been unseasonably warm. Thanks for the tip!
Stay inspired!

Jeanette said...

Hi Rhonda, its a surprise every time with this technique and I guess there are some people who call it their own or make it their trademark. Lots of interesting shapes and colours to work with in each piece. And the cold exposure is pretty limited unless you decide to slap on water and pigment outside in the snowbank! Me? I prefer to wet it down inside then throw it out on the porch. :)

Thanks Jane. The weather here is unpredictable and sometimes the temperatures are cold enough to do this, often not, so I take advantage when I can to have some base pieces in reserve for the future.

My pleasure to share what I know Penny. Thanks so much for your kind words. I hope you get a chance to experiment with the technique.

Vicki, thank you. While its an interesting technique, I'd often swap my winter for your warmer climate.

Jeanette said...

Hi Michelle, we must have just cross posted. The weather is all over the map this year. Blizzard one minute, rain and fog the next!

But yes, like the old "given a lemon, make lemonade", I can use "given freezing temperatures, I can make art!" :)

Christiane Kingsley said...

Jeanette, I love the results that you have had with this technique. I remember reading about it, like Rhonda, on WetCanvas a long time ago. However, I have never tried it.
I find your posts always inspiring!

Jeanette said...

Thanks Christiane, isn't it a fun technique? You should try it, I'd love to see what you'd create.

RH Carpenter said...

You're right about techniques being claimed - we all learn from each other, whether it's large amounts of just bits and pieces. I guess this might make me not hate cold, frosty days as much but I'd do like you - wet it down and toss it outside and come back later! ha ha

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

love the look of these, doesnt get cold enough here for it to work for me tho :/

Jeanette said...

Do have a try Rhonda. Cold exposure is minimal :)

Thanks Jen. Not being cold enough can have its advantages. It won't be cold enough to do this again for me until later this week. The weather's all over the map this year.

suzanneberry said...

jeanette, this is AMAZING!!, I absolutely LOVE it!! what a great process, thanks for sharing it! great colors, graphic composition, just wonderful!

and thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments on my blog. of course tim has been there and is there in the new studio. why i feel guilty about working in a new space he made possible is beyond me, but i'll get there.

and yeah, i do love the leaves. thanks so much. happy creating!

Julie Ford Oliver said...

I am glad you visited my blog because now I have found yours. I enjoyed looking back at the older posts and am in awe of your breadth of skill. You are a generous, sharing artist too so I am now a delighted follower

Jeanette said...

Suz, thanks so much for your support and encouragement. You're a treasure!
Enjoy that new studio, you deserve it.

Julie, thanks for your kind words and lovely to connect with another artist.

Sue Pownall said...

I loved this technique of yours from the 1st time I read it. I'd love to try it one day.

Jeanette said...

It is pretty interesting Sue and each result unpredictable. Living where you are it could be a challenge though. :)

Melissa Boneau said...

Arso Ivanovich exclusive online collection here: