Saturday, August 5, 2017

Art: Artificial

Inks and ink wash stage.

I played around with splotching some random sumi ink (water-resistant, but not waterproof, on sized paper) onto 90lb cold press (cellulose, Strathmore). I added lines to define a dynamic, mountainous and hilly landscape with valleys, forests, and lakes. Even a little island. I also drew out a light wash from the lines using clean water and a brush. There's city buildings on the far right, with little suburbs on the other side of the river.

I let the whole thing dry, and then applied transparent watercolor on top of the land areas and painted in a sky. The sumi ink wash tends to neutralize light colors placed on top it, so applying far less watery paint helps. I then painted over the black water areas with white gouache, and then on top of that gouache with phthalo blue.

Applied color.

The deep black of the ink below the white gouache, overlaid with blue, gives the water this strange dimension, as if it were deep and reflective at the same time. For the land, I mixed wet paints on the paper most of the time, with some glazing in the background.

The edges of the tiny sketch-painting were vignetted in an uneven way so that I couldn't get a good crop out of it. I'd already decided to name this little piece "Artificial" and I thought: why not go all the way?

Finished piece, scanned edge and sketchbook blots included.

I'm a bit weird when it comes to art, so I really liked this odd framing. The scene looks like its bare bones are still in place on the left and unfinished, while at top there's a sun color that's not shaped like a sun and yet is separated from the sky by paper—or a thin layer of clouds? If it's a sun in the upper sky, it's very smeared and the light isn't falling correctly on the painting below to indicate it as the true light source.

And of course, the sketchbook edge is obvious on the right, along with the shadow to indicate this is a layer of unreality on top of some realistic (possibly) plane.

It's basically a photograph of a sketch that makes no bones about being a photograph—a digitally enhanced photograph at that, because of the color skew that is slightly wrong.

I'm not sure how this can ever be framed for display, but it's an interesting idea I can work into some future piece.

Ava Jarvis is an ink and watercolor artist with a portfolio site at If you found this post useful, consider a one-time tip or supporting Ava on Patreon.