During a routine dental check-up some years ago, my Greek dentist once caused me some alarm by announcing that he was going to begin his autopsy. Noticing my rabbit-in-headlights expression, he calmly explained the etymology – the Greek translation of the word is something like ‘seen for myself’. I’m not the most relaxed dental patient and it was helpful to have this (slightly nervous) laugh at the time.

And of course, seeing for yourself is always the best way to learn. I drew some masking fluid on a page of my colour palettes sketchbook before adding watercolour. And – surprise – it doesn’t work.

note to self: masking fluid doesn’t work on this paper

You can see where it was, and it does act as a resist of sorts, but it doesn’t rub off in the normal way when the paint is dry. It lies underneath as a separate layer and sinks into the paper rather than sitting on the surface. I’ve added some pen marks over the top to enhance the effect here and there. I don’t know if it’s because this paper hasn’t been sized, or whether the surface is just too soft. The reason doesn’t really matter; the fact is it doesn’t work as I’d expected. But now I know, having seen for myself.

watercolour and pen on soft cotton rag paper

As always, I can see some of these designs working in textiles with stitch, but for now it’s just an exercise on paper. It’s been a hectic week, and paint on paper is one of my best ways to relax and recover some equilibrium.

I use a separate small square sketchbook for testing paint colours before committing to the thing in progress, and I really like the little abstract compositions that happen purely by accident:

testing, testing – and yes, masking fluid DOES work on cartridge paper

Another long bank holiday weekend here in the UK – whatever your plans are, enjoy some time out.

Author: Karen

Textile and mixed media artist

8 thoughts on “Autos-optos”

  1. Love your sketchbook! Your paintings are as inspiring as your hand embroidery 💙

    1. thanks so much, Pam. These little thumbnail paint sketches are lots of fun

  2. Don’t look at it as a non working resist, it’s just another technique for a different effect! 😄

  3. The sketch book pages are just wonderful. I keep coming back to look at them.

  4. Masking fluid doesn’t come off well if you leave it overnight. And, as you say, a lack of size on the paper may also contribute. All of which said, now you have a new technique, all of your own!

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