I am always looking for new painting techniques and plan to share techniques with you in my blog. Many of these techniques may be new to you or old favorites, or you may have tried the technique and did not like it. I have found that each painting will lend itself to a specific type of technique and it depends on the result one would like to achieve which technique to use. I like Impressionist painting, so many techniques suit my painting style. The painting above illustrates one of my favorite techniques - the use of salt spatter. In this painting, salt is used to add texture to the feathers on the owl.
Use of salt spatter is one of the most exciting ways of creating texture and surface interest, or both. If salt crystals are scattered into a wet wash, they will gradually absorb the paint, drawing it into the salt crystal, to leave an interesting shape when dry.
The effects will vary according to the following factors:
- How wet the paint is,
- How thickly or thinly the salt crystals are distributed,
- The size and type of salt crystal used,
- The color of watercolor paint used (deeper colors show more effect).
How and why does it work?
Salt will leach the color out of the paint leaving mottled marks.
What is important to remember when using this technique?
Timing! Sprinkle the salt just as the shine of your wash goes dull; you have about 30 seconds to do it. If you act too soon, the salt will dissolve and create funny patches…however, these can be interesting too. If you put the salt on too late, nothing happens. The effect takes about 15 seconds to start showing. Don’t be impatient and throw on more salt.
When should this technique be used?
Use this technique when a painting calls for one of the following:
- Snow flakes,
- Texture, such as pitted or barnacle-encrusted rocks on a seashore, old stone walls, etc.,
- Foliage where you would like “suggestion” rather than precise definition,
- Feathers – to create spotting on bird feathers.
What types of salt can be used?
All types of salt can be used based on the result you would like to achieve. Practice with various sizes of salt crystals and keep reference sheets. The following are some of the types of salt that can be used: table salt, rock salt (ice cream salt), sea salt in various sizes, pretzel salt, etc.
Below are examples of salt spatter using three different types of salt: from left to right : large sea salt on the feather; medium coarse Kosher salt on the rocks; and small "table" salt on the leaf.
So, season you paintings with a little salt!