Friday, 29 November 2013

Prismatic Painting: Fun With Twinkling H2Os (and other media)

First a word from our sponsor... 

Miss Roxie (our little drama queen Boston Terrier) says, "Cold weather is for  hibernating!"

Seriously Mom? You're going to make me go out?
Miss Roxie says, "But it's ok if I can go with Dad and wear my sparkly purple parka!"
The rear view always cracks me up.

As some of you know, I have been taking Mastering Twinks I with the amazing Dion Dior. It is with her permission that I share one of my favorite parts of the course. Dion introduced prismatic painting as a way to play with color and texture, and generally getting to know our materials better.

This form really appeals to me, and I've done a number of prismatics other than the two we did for the course. The piece of which I am most proud is a birthday painting for my daughter, and she had asked for a theme of feathers. I was very careful to take good "WIP" pics, so I thought I would use this project to share the process.\

Prismatics (in my mind, anyway) have two integral attributes. 

The first is the prisma lines... lines you draw on your paper, and every time you cross a line, you change your color. Think of the lines the way you would think of the leading in a stained glass window. 

The second is the grouping of warm and cold colors. If there is a subject, you might consider doing the subject in warm colors and the background in cool colors. If you have no subject, you try to group them in the shapes within your piece.

Our first piece had no subject, and this was my result:

First try, no subject
With the very sparkly twinks, you need something to tone them down and emphasize the shine, and in this example, I used color pencil.

Our second project involved a subject... daisies. When you add a subject, prisma lines crossing the subject also require a color change, so you try not to have too many intersecting your subject. Incidentally, this was also my introduction to making an art journal spread:

Subject: Daisies
Can you see how the colors change in the daisies and leaves as the prisma lines cross them?

So here is the process, demonstrated with my daughter's birthday present:

Twinkling Feathers, sketch

This shot is not the best, but the sketch began with the feathers, and then the prisma lines were drawn. Kate decided she would like the feathers in hot, parrot colors, and the background in cool, sky colors.

Feathers base coated.
In the above picture, you see just the feathers painted in. I darkened the prisma lines where they crossed the feathers, so that I would remember to change the color. You can see both the color of the feather, and its vein, change. To maintain cohesiveness in the subject despite the divisions, I used subtle tones of the same colors. With the subject, you have a color scheme in mind... mine was red at the base, to orange, yellow, green. Because of this, you will see color changes in the subject at the prisma lines, but you will also see them where I intended them to be, changing shades between the prisma lines.

Background color in.

You will see above, that the next step was to add the background colors... we ended up with a little pink and purple in there... Well, skies do have sunrises and sunsets. lol

Next step: Texture and detail

I detailed the feathers with gold metallic pen, added a few doodles to the background with silver pen.

In this final shot, you will see the prisma lines drawn in, more doodle details, and texturing and shading with pastel and pan pastel. In the course we have used matte watercolor paint, Caran D'Ache water soluble pastels, Derwent Inktense, colored pencil and pastel at various times, to tone down and in doing so, enhance, the twinks.

Here is the finished piece:

All finished... a little shading "popped" the feathers.
I hope you have enjoyed this little demonstration. I love painting these! In future, I think I will explore different ways of filling the "panes" in the background. Perhaps some tangles?

I would encourage you, if you enjoy water soluble art media, to check out the classes offered by Dion Dior at . She is a very dedicated, gifted and effective instructor. She's done a beautiful job of constructing her online courses, and her warmth, knowledge, and sheer love of creating is really contagious.

If you have any questions or comments about this process, or my experiences in the course, please feel free to leave them in comments, below. I always love to hear from you!

Create because YOU CAN!



  1. This is FANTASTIC... I love it, it explains so much, and it is beautifully detailed. Great job!!! - Jo Dengler

    1. Thank you so much Jo. I wrote 2/3 of it and blogspot had an "episode" so I lost it and had to start over. It took me AGES. lol. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me know!

  2. Very nice, Beth. I could so see things like this in an art journal. Following you now. Hope you'll come by and follow on mine too.

    1. Hi Coleen. Thank you so much for stopping by, and for following. I've been following you for ages. I just tend to comment on FB rather than on the blog (a practice I'm going to stop because everyone loves comments on their blogs, right?). I agree that this form will come in very handy for my art journal. It has lots of potential., Thanks Coleen for your time and wisdom when we talked about journaling. It was very helpful to me.

  3. Great job Beth!
    the colors are so bright and clean. Love the feathers too!

    1. Thank you so much, Val. I kind of worried when Kate said she wanted feathers. It's pretty difficult when you can't really add any fluffies... they tend to look a lot like leaves, if I'm not careful. lol
      I'm learning that colour feeds my soul... and I love this piece for that. It was kind of you to stop by and comment.

  4. Beth, it's great!! Thanks to you for making it, and making it so simple!! I always love learning from you ---Lissa Shiffrin goldsmith

    1. Oh Lissa, you are so sweet. Thank you for your kind words, and for taking the time to stop by.

  5. Beth, thanks for taking me back to art class 1959 In which our art teacher taught us this technique using a few empty wine bottles as the subject on a stand with draped fabric. the lines of the bottles and the fabric automatically made the vertical lines some of the horizontal ones. we were encouraged to then use the horizontal ones as planes of depth. I am inspired to try this myself using zentangle patterns as well. Thanks so much for posting. Your feathers turned out great.

    1. Maxine, I loved hearing your story about being introduced to this technique. Thank you! Thank also for the kind words. I hope you do try, and I hope I get to see the results!

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  7. Beautiful prismatic creations BethB. Thanks for your kind words over at my site, I really appreciate it.
    Are you joining Friday Sketches too? I'm kind of nervous, it's all new to me. I love the freedom of it though and thought it was a good idea to commit. Hope to see you there too if you can find the time.

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    2. Hi Laila. How nice of you to stop by by. Thank you for the kind words about the prismatics. I too am apprehensive about Friday Sketches, mostly because nobody but me ever sees them, and they are.. well, shall we say primitive? Naive? Nope, a definite gap in knowledge and ability here. I feel inspired to try, though, so I guess I need to explore it. I love the sketches that are up so far. I'll watch for more from you. I love your style!