Ice is a recurring theme for me. Someone asked me a few months ago, “do you always paint ice?” Well, no. Sometimes I paint mountains and rocks and clouds… I just feel there’s so much I still want to express and explore about the subject. One of these days perhaps I’ll start a tropical project (warmer climes), but for now, ice continues to captivate me, particularly its colors and textures.

Last week I painted the face of a tabular iceberg and experimented with using plastic wrap and a spray bottle to create interesting marks and patterns. First, for inspiration I tweaked and cropped a photo I took in Antarctica (while artist-in-residence with Quark Expeditions) so I could see the big shapes of the composition. To further simplify the image, I posterized it in Photoshop (Image<Adjustments<Posterize).


Next I made a few smaller studies before diving into a larger scale 30″ x 22″ sheet of Arches 140lb cold press paper. I wet the large sheet, painted my sky, and added blue wash on the ice. Immediately, I lay plastic wrap over the paint and left the paper to dry.


Once dry, I removed the plastic wrap and this is what it revealed:

Pardon the wrinkles! My paper was still damp.

Here’s a close up of the lower right hand corner. I enjoy the irregular, crisp lines- they are reminiscent of ice.


To complete the painting, I worked both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry with a spray bottle to create ice textures. It was great fun to work around the whole page.

Brushes and spray bottle in-hand (and standing on my chair for better reach!)

Here’s where I left it for the day:

30" x 22" watercolor
30″ x 22″ watercolor