Underwater Steampunk?


Underwater steampunk? That was my husband’s comment when he saw this piece in progress – that it looked like underwater steampunk. How did I come to this end result? So glad you asked.

I must apologize because I totally forgot to take a photo of the before page. Recently I came across an excellent sale on Twinkling H2Os and had to order several colors I didn’t already have. Cause you know you have to do that when there is such an awesome sale! It’s one of those unwritten art journaling rules. Anyhoo, when I unpacked my order, I pulled out my favorite Strathmore Watercolor Journal and tried out all the new colors.

Just in case you’ve not used H2Os before – let me give you a tip. Consider it a bonus in this post. About 10-15 minutes before you want to use the colors (or even longer if you can be patient) take the tops off the jars and spritz in some water. I use a pipette and put 3-4 drops of water into each pot. Then I have this lovely little bottle of Ox Gall liquid (don’t even ask) from Holbein. I add 1-2 drops of ox gall into each pot. Then let them sit. The mica and the pigments have to have time to hydrate, otherwise you will only pick up color from the top of the pot. It will not have all those lovely little bits of mica which is really the part that makes the H2Os twinkle. The ox gall speeds along the process, enhances the flow of the H2Os, and just makes your painting all around more awesome!

Once my lovely little pots of bold, shiny color were hydrated I used a paintbrush to stir them up. When you have a wonderful thick syrupy goo the H2Os are good to go. I used a watercolor page to test the colors. This is what I used for the base to build my drawing on. As you can see I really had no design in mind, I just started laying in bits and pieces of tangles to flow with the colors. See how those coral pipes flow along the lines of the pink and red? And the printemps (clams?) fill in blocks of pink and yellow?

I truly had no end goal in mind. I just kept adding cool tangles until I felt like the drawing was finished. Someone commented recently that they struggled with leaving white space, with feeling like they had to fill in the entire area with design. Sometimes I do that like in this post (OK, disregard that statement, I haven’t posted that picture yet. Oops!) and sometimes I just stop when it feels right.

Then I struggled with the same dilemma I always struggle with – do I shade and highlight? I genuinely liked the way the whole thing looked and think it would have been fine left as it was. I didn’t know how shading and highlighting would work on the H2Os. They tend to give you a slick feel which makes surface grabbing kind of tough. I started with a graphite pencil for shading, but quickly gave that up for a pale grey Pitt pen. I used my white General Chalk pencil for some highlights, but when I smudged with my white tortillion the highlights all but wiped away. So most of the highlighting you see came from a white gelly roll pen. I do like the difference the shading and highlighting made – even though it was a stretch to make it work.

* * * One important last note about the H2Os – and this is critical – don’t put the lids back on until every bit of that lovely little paint is absolutely dry! If you put the lid on wet paint it will dry shut and you won’t be able to open this jar again without breaking the lid. Not cool! I have this on good authority – not based on experience. * * *

Hahaha! Thank you for reading to the end of this crazy post. I loved making this piece of art! You know me – – – bright, vivid, and colorful are my middle names! Have I shown you my hair recently? Just re-blued last week – thank you, Brittany!!!

I am also going to use this for my Artist’s Play Room post once Jenn sets up this week’s link. Click below to see some amazing art!

The Creator's Leaf

4 thoughts on “Underwater Steampunk?

  1. I love your indy-rella fish and printemps jellyfish! clever girl. your tangles are always so appealing. I have also heard that the twinkling h2os are susceptible to mold if they aren't allowed to dry completely before storing with the lid on. I've seen pictures, and it ain't pretty!

    • good point, sandy, i hadn't heard that but it makes sense. i tend to lose the lids before i get them all back on >.<

  2. This is an amazing tangled underwater scene with a very surreal feel to it, if you ask me. Although I can also see why your husband though Steampunk. The H2O's look marvelous, and your intuitive artistry shines through. I feel the latter is one of the best ways to proceed when working on an art project. Blessings, my friend!

    • haha! thanks, arnoldo! i love working with bright colors and underwater features! i just read through several posts on your blog, too. i love that you do a whole range of art styles. so much to learn on your blog 🙂

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