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How to make rocks flow

I normally think of rocks as solid, immutable, unchanging. But in China last year, the rocks flowed…that is, the patterns and striations in the Li River and Yangtse River karst mountains seemed to flow like the river water.  But how to paint that?

By using masking fluid on white paper, I managed to create some beautiful flowing paintings of water when I was trying to capture the movement and colors in the water around Iceland.

All the Sky's a Stage

All the Sky’s a Stage, 16×12, $800

But now I was trying to make the flow show with the black ink, rather than the white of the paper.  Well, why not try it on Yupo, that plastic “paper” that is so completely non-absorbent that the ink or watercolor just swims around on top?

I’ve done about 5 paintings on Yupo so far of the karst rock striations.  Here are two:

Dragon Path

Dragon Path, 14×10.5, $725

Dragon Flow

Dragon Flow, 12×9, $600










It’s almost impossible to get the ink to do exactly what you want, so you have to go with the flow (pun intended) and then tweak it afterwards. I’m especially happy with the way I managed to get the white to come forward and not just stay in the background.

If you didn’t know what this was, would you think it was water?  Rocks?  Something else?

Posted by ruthhurd on May 23, 2014

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