Several years ago, I did a series of “normal sized” watercolors of moss and lichens. Sort of forest floor “what your toes would see if they had eyes” studies. It occurred to me that it would be fun to try the same technique with these miniature paintings. I found, with this piece, that re-visitation is a strange space to travel to. I found myself both trying to do what I had done before and struggling with the small format and brushes to adapt the technique to this tiny area.
In this larger painting, seen here to the right, I used clear water to wet an area of the paper, then dropped in the greens and browns very loosely. While the paint was still very wet, I dropped in rubbing alcohol- this is what makes the “lichen” shapes appear initially. I blotted with a tissue and damp brush here and there and, when the washes were just damp, used salt to make the little snowflake shapes appear. When the paint was dry, I went back in, darkening areas, using dry brush strokes to get the feel of mosses and lichens (including the adorable little pixie cup lichens). Easy peasy, in a way, but in other ways, not so…
This piece feels heavy handed to me. But, again, it is an exercise. Part of the purpose behind this practice is for me to just be creative without any real agenda and to just see what happens when I allow space for that. What do I value? Where do I judge? What can my disappointment or even dislike tell me about the process of engaging with creativity?
(© Karen Opp. All rights reserved.)