Summer colors, popping. That was the goal. And because I really liked the contrasts that emerged in the recent painting, Surface Tension, I set out again to play with watercolors and acrylics, side by side, and ended up with Fizz! 

This time, I prepped the canvas with a bright yellow-green acrylic. I didn’t use a base coat in Surface Tension (other than what was already on the pre-gessoed canvas), and I felt like I lost some of the watercolor’s intensity. Adding this base coat definitely helped the watercolors stay vivid. Note to self: do more of that.

Another change: spraying a light varnish top coat on the watercolor prior to adding the acrylic paint. In Surface Tension, I’d painted on a matte varnish onto the watercolor, and it also diffused the colors and edges more than I’d expected. While I liked the results, I wanted less diffusion in Fizz! and this did the trick.

The acrylic sections have about a dozen coats of a high gloss varnish (Surface Tension had about 6 times as many coats on the acrylic). I used a different brand of varnish this time, and to my surprise it actually pulled up some of the underlying watercolor tones through the acrylic. Not at all what I expected, but that’s part of the process: letting the paints do exactly what they will.

It’s not hard to tell that I painted the canvas upside-down, using gravity to drip the colors, then flipping the final painting on its head.

Final thoughts: It’s bright and bold and it makes me crazy happy to look at — especially the bright orange against the green and blue.

Acrylic & watercolor, 24" x 36"
Acrylic & watercolor, 24″ x 36″