Spatter Painting No. 5 – (and also how to do spattering)…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s elephant in the room is the one who has just changed his name to President Trunk.

spatter-5-20-x-15Spatter Painting No. 5 (2015). Acrylic paint and black ink on paper about 20″ x 15″.

As you can see by the low number this is one of my early spatters (I am currently working on No. 38). It was done only a couple of years ago – but it seems like I’ve been at them for ages!
When I post one of these for you to look at I sort of feel obliged to say something about it, but, as this one is ruthlessly abstract there’s not really much to say – not even, oh, look, that bit there looks like a dolphin… oh, and that other splash at the side has the face of an angry politician… Hey, what’s that?… A rabbit, or a stick insect?… You know, that sort of thing…

I suppose I could mention something about the process of doing these things – it might be of help to someone who fancies having a go at this nonsense themselves.

The size: I suppose one could do small ones, but I think those round dot spatters would be a bit too large in relation to the whole. I like to do them on thickish watercolour paper about 30″ x 20″. I could do larger ones I suppose, but I’d have nowhere to put them.
The paper: Yes, thickish watercolour paper. The trouble is, because you are leaving great areas white and saturating other areas with sloppy wet paint, on drying out the paper cockles horribly and makes the whole thing look a bit amateurish and cheap. The answer is to soak the paper in the bath for an hour or so and stick it to a stout board with gumstrip brown paper tape so that it dries out well-stretched. Even doing this I do still get a bit of annoying cockling – Yes Doctor, it’s me again, I’m afraid I’m still getting that annoying cockling…
Chucking the paint around: Of course this is the best (and quickest) part of the process. I use well watered-down nice bright acrylic colours which are stirred to get rid of the lumps, but the lumps can look very good on the final work, don’t worry about the lumps – me, I like the lumps.
Lay the (now dry) paper, still taped on its board, flat on a table, or even on the floor (put an old sheet down) – take a small container (perhaps something the size of an egg cup) of sloppy paint, and… Now, hang on, this can be a tense moment, after all you have spent a lot of time carefully stretching and looking after that expensive sheet of paper, and now you have to be suddenly carefree and perhaps aggressive with it…. Just take a deep breath and go for it!… Ho ho ho! What fun!… Yes!… Throw it on, or flick it on, dribble, or do anything you like!…
After you have done the dirty deed, you can stand and look down at the result. You will probably think, Oh dear, this looks really boring – what a disappointment! Why did I bother?… But do not despair – what I find is that if you go away and come back some hours later, and see it with fresh eyes, you will probably think, Oh, it’s not as bad as I thought, in fact… gosh… this is rather good!… Can’t wait ’til it dries!…
Afterwards: Me, I like to spend some time ‘enhancing’ the outlines of the spatters with a black ink pen. This can be very tedious, (you will need cups of tea and the radio on) but it really does emphasise the forms.
An afterthought: I expect somebody will read this, start knocking a few of these out and win next year’s Turner bloody Prize… and, become rich and famous… Doh!…
But it really is better to share knowledge rather than be mean with it, isn’t it?


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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16 Responses to Spatter Painting No. 5 – (and also how to do spattering)…

  1. Dana Doran says:

    Oh, not so abstract! I see that minaret on the left is casting a large shadow over… that a public square or the EU? Perhaps I need another cup of coffee this morning?

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Now look here Dana – if I say it’s abstract it’s abstract!…
      Minarets indeed!…
      Sounds like too much coffee to me!…
      Oh, but now you come to mention it…

  2. Oh, oh!, do you know whats good for cockling?? Wallpaper samples, oh my gosh I use them all the time (free chuckouts from the local shop) and not a cockle in sight. Lovely spatter though, lots of movement and colour! šŸ˜€

    • Dave Whatt says:

      Oh, thank you for that dear Scribbler!
      Ah, but is the wallpaper ‘acid free’? – I mean, wouldn’t it awful if you sold one for Ā£1000 and after 20 years it went brown and crusty, and they returned it and wanted their money back?…

      • All wallpaper is acid free – thats why all old houses have layers and layers of the stuff from years back and it still looks ok (albeit not very trendy) Lining paper is also acid free. *skips off to spatter paint*

      • Dave Whatt says:

        Gosh, I didn’t know that – I always thought it looked a bit, er, ‘temporary’…

      • Oh and while I’m on the subject…..if anyone does get a roll of paper, the best way to make it lie flat is to roll it the other way for five minutes and voila. It lays (mostly) flat so you don’t have to fight with it.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Yes, always so good to share techniques and ideas – in return I might share the Turner money as a goodwill gesture. You never know. šŸ˜‰

  4. luke610 says:

    The first thing I noticed was the way you had outlined some of the droplets … interesting!

  5. twallisstone says:

    Thanks for describing the process. I’ve often wondered how you get the paint “to behave “. Cheers

  6. ktz2 says:

    I see a sock puppet of a dog in the green. . couldn’t help it, it said Look Here. . ha

  7. Jheron Bash says:

    Let’s not forget the Turner prize is being held in Hull this year. You could enter! Why do I think that might not happen?

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