Drip, Drip, Drip

Recently I’ve discovered “drip art”. At least, that’s what I’m calling it. I’m not sure if the method has an actual name or not, but it definitely involves drips! And it’s fun. No, by the way, it’s not the sort of “drip art” practiced by abstract artists like Ernst and Pollock. This was “watercolor drip art”, and the technique fits in nicely with my new approach to painting.

As you already know, I have a lot of fun with my gansai, and one reason is that I don’t concern myself too much with streaks or blooms, or puddles of color. So “drip art” suits me fine! With drip art, not only do we not worry about drips and streaks and runs, we encourage them!

I learned this technique from Mandy Peltier. She was the instructor for a recent online class offered by Michael’s. I’m very happy I’ve found these online classes. I had fun creating a bit of Halloween art at the first class I attended, and this second class — another freebie — was just as much fun as the first. This class was also Halloween-themed, and during the hour-long presentation we made three cards — a full moon with bats flying about, a dark raven, and a black cat, which could also be an owl if you’re so inclined.

The supply list called for watercolors; I used my gansai, of course. For the project, we mixed our own black, and a chartreuse made from yellow and a touch of cerulean blue. The drawings were loose and in the case of the raven and the cat, actually unfinished.

Our painting was loose, as well. We were careful in painting the moon and the eyes of the cat, but other than that, it was as loose as we could make it, focusing more on creating various values with our black mixture. I did have problems with the eyes of my cat, so I simply painted over them, then waited until it was perfectly dry before I went back to it. I used my new acrylic gouache to create the eyes.

But, back to the drips!

Yes, after painting with our black paint, we dipped our brushes into water and deliberately dropped water onto our paper. We even tilted the paper a bit to get those drips running down the page. Oh, what fun!

Here’s a look at each card.

First, the cat. This was my least favorite. To me, it definitely looked more like an owl, and I as mentioned above, I had trouble painting the eyes.


I should mention, too, that these are 5 x 7 cards. Mine were done on Strathmore 140-lb. cotton fiber paper. I have a package of pre-cut sheets, which made it very easy.

I wasn’t happy with my cat, never could figure out quite how to use values to create the right facial structure, and really thought it looked more like an owl than a cat. Looking at it earlier, I thought about whiskers. Of course it looks odd. The cat has no whiskers! So, I grabbed a charcoal pencil and added a few. I’m not sure if it makes it more cat-like or not.

And yes, while I had the charcoal in my hand, I tried to reshape the cat’s nose just a bit. Overall, I think it’s a slight improvement. I think it does look more like a cat now.

I did like the way my raven turned out. I think it was easier for me to “see” the bird’s form with the different values.

You can see the blooms from water drips, plus you can see how the water ran down when I tilted the page. I then “splattered” a bit of black on the page. I didn’t go too far with that idea. I should have done more, I think.

Finally, we finished our “bats and full moon” card. I did use a circle template for the full moon. The moon was painted first and left to dry while we completed our raven and cat cards. Then we returned to paint in a number of bats flying around the moon. Again, I finished off with splatters, and this time, I think I went too far.

As I look at this now, I’m thinking that I should have added one more bat so that I would have seven, not six. That thing about “odd numbers” you know. Still, I do like my six flying bats with all the drips, dribbles, spills, and splatters.

Deliberately creating blossoms and blooms is an interesting idea. While I’ve been content to let them happen in my gansai paintings, I haven’t gone so far as to make them an integral part of the art. Now, I know I’ll have fun trying this technique with different Halloween subjects — Halloween just tends to lend itself to drips and splatters, don’t you think? — and probably with different colors. Bright orange. A deep, vibrant purple. Maybe even touches of metallic paints!

It was a lot of fun, and for a first try, I think I did all right. Well, except for that cat. But, hey, as the old song says, “Two outta three ain’t bad.”


    1. I’m discovering ways to use glazes from oil paints to do similar “drips” and “dribbles”. I’m beginning to see that the more crazy things I try, the more apt I am to find ideas and techniques that I can actually use in some way. It’s a fun way to approach art.

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    1. For me, the owl-cat was the most difficult. I might try it again later to see if I can get more of a feel for the facial structure. I do enjoy the technique, and I know I’m going to have a lot of fun playing with drips and dribbles.


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