Christmas! Ornaments! Ribbons!

November 24, 2010 | By | 17 Replies More

Christmas Ball 2

This is a little different subject for me, but it shows two themes I’ve spiraled around and visited many times and in different ways: circles and ribbons.

Victorian Flavor

These heavier, opaque colors give it an antique, almost faded, effect that I like with the swirling ribbons. The pigments are Potters Pink, Cobalt Turquoise and Mars Black. I tweaked the ribbons a bit and added the ornament topper with Prismacolor colored pencils*.

This is the second attempt at this. The first was – Meh – the composition was lame. Just to prove it, I’ll show you that one too:

Christmas Ball 1

I’ve gotten quite a few comments about the splatters so thought you might like to know a little bit more about them.

The Splashes Aren’t a Mistake

Have you noticed they don’t go over the focal point of the painting? That’s because I mask it over with either a carefully cut piece of paper or a crumpled tissue depending on how precise I want to be. I know, it sounds silly: precise, when throwing paint around?

Next, I consider the color of the splatter – usually it’s the color I want to read as dominant. Sometimes I’ll use a lesser color to bring that out but it’s been the failing of more than one painting. Too many colors make them look too chaotic which is why I very seldom use more than one color to splatter.

When I mix my paint, it’s thin and I use a squirrel brush that I got years ago from Blick. It’s got a fat belly and holds a lot to splash with. First, I start with mostly paint and dip into water as the splashes get lighter.

Before I pitch the paint, I stop to decide the direction and thickness I want. I try to “aim” the splashes so they add to the composition and direct the eye with the other elements. It’s not exactly rocket science and there’s a lot of just letting the perfectionist go in this step.

After the splashes are laid down, I tweak them by soaking up the too dark spots with a thirsty brush and spritzing others with a fine mist to feather them out. There’s plenty of time for all this messing about but I try to stop and get away before I ruin it. But, that’s the secret of painting with watercolor isn’t it?

Love It! Hate It!

Some people love the loose look or the splattering while others think it looks like a studio accident. Maybe I should call it “decoration” or “embellishment” instead?


*Amazon Affiliate link to the BIG 120 pencil set!

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Category: Painting

Comments (17)

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  1. E J Mordasky says:

    I loved reading about the splatter as I like the effect in a lot of my work..
    I would imagine some may think it’s all helter skelter and not realize the planning that goes into it..I like the second think—has more directional pull that MOVES it..

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Hi Winna,

      Thanks for commenting on the “behind the scenes” splatter. I know some people just don’t like it and think it looks messy.

      I decided to show the first attempt since it was so different in feel with just minor changes. The featured one just says “Whooosh!” to me 🙂

      BTW – I LOVE that scarecrow on dark paper!

  2. nancy t. says:

    Your description of the process you use for the spattering was interesting and informative. I like both versions, but I agree, the second one almost looks like it’s flying! Very happy-looking. nancy

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Thanks Nancy for stopping by. I’ve always liked hearing about how other artists work and it doesn’t hurt to share.

      Love that you think it’s happy looking – that makes me smile 🙂

  3. How lovely – would make a beautiful festive card! Thanks for the spatter hints too.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Margaret, thanks for the kind words! I made it with a greeting card in mind – that’s why it’s shaped and sized the way it is. I’d like to offer it as a greeting card but am having trouble finding printing that satisfies me. Maybe soon!

      I hope you enjoyed the splashing about and give it a try 🙂 Your leaves and berries look like they would take to it nicely!

  4. Lynn says:

    I love the spatter. It adds extra dimension and interest to the piece. Thanks for the explanation of how you do it.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Thanks Lynn, for taking the time to let me know. The way I paint is fairly minimal so the splatters fill in and help tie things together. It would probably be too much if I painted more of the subjects 🙂

  5. Cathy says:

    I love the faded Victorian colours and your explanation of splatters has made me want to do some!
    Just off to look at your new site :=)

    • Monette Satterfield says:


      The splashing and splattering can be a lot of fun so I’m glad to hear my process has inspired you. Thanks for stopping by The Artful Business too – I hope you enjoy what I’m doing there.

      I love the delicate colors in the work on your blog – as well as your faces project. I’d love to see how you would make splatters – Have Fun!

  6. Alex Tan says:

    I like it! It’s soft and subtle

  7. Thanks for sharing how you make your splashes. I sometimes love the look of this and other times not. It is good to have the variety. I think this design is making a very pretty Christmas card.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Hey Timaree – I’m so glad to hear from you! Thanks for pointing out that sometimes the splashy thing doesn’t work. I just know there are plenty of people out there who really dislike it. I end up doing it more often than not when I paint because I don’t have a lot of other stuff on the page (like a background 🙂 ) competing for attention.

      Wow, that was some Thanksgiving you cooked! I can’t believe you had the energy left to paint 🙂

  8. Sherie says:

    I think both are gorgeous, even tho I see why you didn’t really like the first one. Loved reading your commentary on the splatters.

    • Monette Satterfield says:

      Hi Sherie and thanks for having a look – I appreciate your lovely compliment 🙂

      Love your cards – especially those hands!

  9. Carol says:

    OMG that is remarkable! I adore your work! Guess I am not as up-to-date as your usual fans! I swear I have fallen in love with your blog… Incredible writing! You’re an outstanding and talented person, keep up the individuality 🙂

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