Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spatter Technique

"Alien Encounter" ....... oil ......... 9"x12"

Every now and then this is fun to do; I've added a spatter pattern to the yellow area of the plate for some added interest. You may have tried this technique as a kid if you had a very lenient art teacher. It can be a bit messy but with a little practice you can refine your control.

How to spatter

Gather these tools:
  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • old toothbrush
  • rubber gloves
  • your paint of choice, thinned down to a fairly liquid state

On a large table, set out a good amount of newspaper, even if your canvas is small. With more newspaper or other paper (I've used white paper from the printer here so it shows better here), cut out some loose shapes for the areas you DON'T want spatter. Using masking tape, gently tape the paper mask to the canvas. You'll want to be sure any paint on your canvas is dry so you don't pick up any paint when removing the tape later.
If using oil paint, thin your color of choice using some medium and a very small amount of thinner. It should be a little soupy. For acrylics or watercolors, thin with water. You can vary the size of spray by trial and error by varying the consistency of the paint, and by the relative softness or hardness of the toothbrush you use.

Put on the rubber gloves (old paint clothes and/or a shop apron might be a good idea, too. Dip just the bristles of the brush in your paint. Aim at an area of the newspaper to test the quality of your paint. With your thumb, pull back on the bristles. When satisfied with your test spatter, reload and aim at your canvas. Repeat until you've acheived the amount of spatter you desire.

Carefully remove the mask. Later, when this was dry, I added a dark glaze over the entire shadow area of the yellow, which helped it blend in.


  1. The painting is great! Thanks for the demo! Usually if I spatter more paint ends up on me that anywhere else...lol!
    I have a question. Do people call you R.? I can't find your full name on your blog... lol! I mean.... I can call you R..... but I think I want to know your name...lol!

  2. Yep, everybody calls me R... unless they call me Arrgh! (on National Pirates Day), or Grrr Riott!

  3. R..
    I can see the process of how you do these lovely paintings but I just don't know HOW you do them!!! Each time I look there's a new and wonderful creation on my blogroll... You're amazing!

  4. Thanks for the grand compliment, Marian, but YOU're the amazing one! I'm just trying to keep up!

  5. Cool! I swear maybe you need to write a book. I bet Northern Lights would publish your teachings.

  6. You just brought back the memory of first grade and Mrs. Simmons with your splatter technique. I remember rubbing an old toothbrush over a small piece of screen/mesh. As always your work is lovely; I appreciate your dedication to teaching and sharing with all of us.

    What's this I hear, you paint, you photoshop, you cook, and now you garden?

  7. This is great to see. I've tried it in watercolor, but hadn't thought to try it with thinned oil. Great effect, and beautiful painting. (Thanks for your supportive words. Good to know am not alone). Liz

  8. Sheila, What a nice thing to say! If only I knew how to become 'known'!

    Angela, Glad it brought back a good memory! and yes, Let's see how long I can keep juggling the creative blogs in the air!

    Thank, Liz-- and you are not alone. Write anytime; sometimes just to write it down or tell someone is to experience a bit of relief.

  9. Hi R, This looks quite fun!

    Also, I'm in agreement with Sheila. You should write a book. You have so many talents!

  10. Thanks, Michelle, although I don't think I know anything groundbreaking or unusual... there are lots of way more multi-talented people out there (and I'll bet you're one of them)! Me, I'm just another art hermit.

  11. Oh yes, they let us do spatter painting in grade school. It was s o much fun! The effect works beautifully in this piece.

    I looked for your name too--and for your gender, because I've been struggling with pronouns, LOL.

    The world needs more web-publishing art hermits! If I didn't like my day job so much, I'd become one myself.

  12. Great info! I had a great time recently in a watercolor workshop learning the tricks of spattering for texture. Fun stuff!

  13. Hi Kim and Becjy, bet you both could give us all more thorough demo on spatter!

  14. I've really enjoyed learning about your work and your blog. Will stay tuned.

  15. Great painting and very cool technique, R!

  16. Thanks, SP, and thanks Edward! You're both very kind.

  17. Love the painting and the composition! And I always enjoy your instruction on technique.

  18. Thanks Gwen! Always nice to hear from you.

  19. I used this technique once on a painting. I thought it wasn't a "proper" use of the paint, I never admitted it. I sold the painting. I will try it again.


Thank you for your kind comments! They always make my day.