Detail of "ice painting"

In Portland we get a lot of rain, but not a lot of snow. Even a slight whiff of snow can send us into a panic. Getting six inches inside of 24 hours… well, we’re calling it “Snowmagedon.”

"Snowmagedon" backyard
“Snowmagedon” backyard

I had the day off due to the weather, but after refilling my bird feeders and settling on a hummingbird feeder warming rotation, I decided to try my hand once again at “ice painting.” My last post generated a lot of questions (okay… a lot might be relative) and today seemed like the perfect day to try again.

To reprise, ice painting is using cold temperatures to “dry” your water media paintings and, hopefully, get a lot of texture.

For my last (first) attempt in December, I used watercolor paints and got some nice results, but was ultimately disappointed with the textures I got; a more experience friend told me I needed to be using acrylics.

28° and just getting started
28° and just getting started

So today, with three inches of snow and a temperature of 28°F, I gave it another shot with acrylics.

Blank watercolor paper on board

The first part of the process is mixing my colors. It’s important to mix a high-intensity color when doing any kind of pouring because you lose so much intensity during the drying process. The directions usually say “the consistency of 2% milk.” From experience I also know to try to get the mixture thoroughly mixed or when you pour pure paints will glop out onto the paper.

My colors, mixed up and ready to pour
My colors, mixed up and ready to pour

I’m not one to give up, so I started with another watercolor try. I had some unused paint mixed from my last attempt and I wanted to make sure that any differences in results were due to the acrylic rather than the temperature.

First attempt - watercolor
First attempt – watercolor; it always feels like Napthol red taxes over

Next I moved onto the acrylics. I have some concerns that my paint consistency was whole milk as opposed to 2%; but indeed, I did get more of the texture I was looking for.

Two acrylics "drying" in the snow
Paintings “drying” in the snow
Detail of "ice painting"
Detail of “ice painting”

As I was letting the paintings “dry” it started snowing. I got out there after just a little had settled, but it was enough that they had to be moved into the garage (still cold, but not freezing.) Once the snow melted, they came into the house to finish drying.

Oops... drying time mushed into snow time
Oops… drying time mushed into snow time

And the results… Indeed, acrylic does produce a better result. But the colors I used this time (and I only have a few gathered from yard sales for under $5 total) were a little vivid and under-mixed. They are a good start for some abstracts, but I think I will try again tomorrow with today’s results as a guideline.

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