A few days ago, I painted the above in about an hour and a half as a demonstration via Zoom, a safe way for groups to “meet” and share ideas these days. One question that came up was whether I use frisket, a masking agent that resists watercolor paint; it was not used in this painting. However, the white spots you see as snowflakes are made with salt sprinkled early onto wet paint and, much later, white acrylic paint spattered throughout on dry paper.
I did another blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata) painting over the last day that does use some frisket. Here are the steps to paint it:
As you can see, frisket is only applied to the dry paper where I wish to keep shapes white. I try to use frisket as minimally as possible, and only wherever it’s easiest to paint over many tiny spots with a large brush than to paint around each. I would not use frisket for a large white or pale shape, like the bird’s belly. (Be sure frisket is completely dry before applying paint over it!)
Though paint covers practically the entire painting in this initial stage, the sketch is still visible and frisket remains in place.
I apply local color to defined shapes. Note how frisket still serves a purpose and remains in place.
[By the way, these red flowers belong to the male cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides), one of the largest and fastest-growing trees in North America. The female tree produces the cottony fibers that give this tree its name, and every spring I look forward to the arrival of cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum), which feed on their fruit before the “cotton” erupts. But I happen to love the male’s red flowers, which also provide food for many creatures. These trees live in riparian zones, and, living so close to the Connecticut River, I am lucky to have a few in the yard and neighborhood.]
I apologize for the poor quality of the above and next photos, but natural light (which I usually use to photograph my work) was poor due to inclement weather, and incandescent lighting made the next shot appear very yellow. Anyway, frisket has been removed (above) to paint the branch. I apply a very thin wash of pale brown over the white “frisket shapes”, then quickly tap in very dark paint to shadowed branch edges and allow paint to bleed here and there.
Likely hard to tell above, but the white spots in the red flowers are now largely covered with yellow paint, and shapes, colors, and value are more developed. Unhappy with sky/background to the left of the bird’s belly, I add a few bud shapes and darken the sky nearest the pale belly and elsewhere.
I wet the paper again lower left and upper right to add and enhance the soft-edged flower and branch shapes. These visually connect the disparate subject and background shapes, strengthening the overall piece. Blue jays were among my Oma’s favorite birds…