Soap Bubble Painting – Less is More

And so to my next post about watercolours and soap bubble painting. If you missed the first post, you can read it here. 

I’ve used lots of photographs for these posts so they do come out a little longer than usual – but hopefully they show the progress and results better than I could describe them in words.

A google search revealed another interesting post about soap bubble paintings by Lemon Zest – but using a different technique. This is one I have heard of, but haven’t yet tried. I sort of made up my method as I went along. I’m sure it’s not unique, and it takes longer than the one I discovered on Lemon Zest’s page.

For the next stage, I thought I would try using smaller amounts of the soap foam so that the paper was less wet. Unlike in the first tests, in these most of the paper stayed dry. I prefer the results of this test. The effects seem clearer and I think there’s the potential for more control.

I used two different paper – both NOT, but one was much smoother than the other: offcuts of Langton and Hahnemuhle.

But, for those who are interested,  the results of part 2 of my soap bubble painting are detailed below.

 Soap bubble painting in pictures:

On Langton paper.

I didn’t tape the paper because I was just experimenting. Once the soap bubbles wet the paper, it started to buckle and the soap bubble painting started to get a life of its own.  Sliding down the sides of the paper it left a stain where it travelled. I put a glass jar on the corner to hold it down slightly and stop the soap moving as much.

watercolour soap bubbles 8
Just let it slide

Paper and soap bubble painting dried the next morning left beautiful ethereal marks.

Soap bubble painting
Let it slide – 24 hours later

On Hahnemuhle paper

This paper, while not a HP paper, is somewhat less textured than the Langton paper.

watercolour soap bubbles 6
Less is more – just a small patch on  dry paper

I decided to move the soap bubble painting by blowing on it to open it up a bit. I found the soap was almost too easy to move this way – it shifted very quickly in response to very little activity.

watercolour soap bubbles 7
Blown soap bubbles – making it move

I really loved this effect and now have loads of ideas for how to use this – unpredictable as it is.

Soap bubble painting
Blown soap bubbles – 24 hours later

And here’s one of my favourite bits of the delicious soap bubble painting.

Soap bubble painting
The details can be ethereal and really beautiful

There’s a third stage of this for those of you who aren’t completely bored with my soap and watercolour games, but I’ll give you all a break for now and post the rest another day.

Watercolour Soap Bubbles – experimenting again

Sunday seemed like a good day to make some watercolour soap bubbles.

Having got back into the painting groove a bit with a few wisteria paintings and an asparagus or two, I wasn’t feeling particularly blocked. But I did say that I would blog about a few ways to break creative blocks so this was a good excuse to play. And play I most certainly did.

First I whipped up some foam using baby shampoo. (I will try dishwashing liquid at some stage in the future to see if those watercolour soap bubbles behave any differently). Then I prepared my paints and an eye dropper. I assumed I would have to work fairly fast.

Watercolour Soap Bubbles Results

As always I want to compare results so I wet one piece of paper and left another dry. Applying the soap bubbles is messy, and can be a little tricky. And definitely, more than a little bit random.

watercolour soap bubbles
Watercolour Soap Bubbles on wet paper
Watercolour Soap Bubbles on wet paper
Watercolour Soap Bubbles on wet paper

I wondered whether the wet paper would make the soap bubbles stay for longer – but in fact, there was very little difference. I got impatient with the bubbles on dry paper and tried a gently hairdryer to see if I could speed things up. Mistake.

Watercolour soap bubbles
Watercolour soap bubbles – Don’t use a hairdryer!

The bubbles just disintegrated instantly and the effects just blurred into a pretty bland texturing. I guess it was a bit obvious.

The watercolour soap bubbles on wet paper took ages to dry – I had to leave it overnight. That required extreme patience – I was itching to see the results.

Patience paid off – when I went back 24 hours later having left the paper to dry completely, the effects were revealed.

watercolour soap bubbles - patience pays
Patience pays off

There’s no doubt that the results are more than a little unpredictable (and quite beautiful in parts) – but with practice, I think this could reveal more interesting textures.  I used the back of a discarded painting for this, and chose colours that I wouldn’t always combine in these proportions – where the watercolour soap bubbles gradually contracted, the pigments has become very dense, and has bonded with some of the soap residue. There’s a balance to be attained in the amount of soap to water ratio, and further the pigment to bubbles ratio. But even so, there are some wonderful details to be discovered in here.

watercolour soap bubbles
Lacy details

There were a few other watercolour soap bubbles experiments – but more of these in another post.

Wisteria Watercolour and a Creative Block Solution

Wisteria Watercolour
Wisteria Against the Garden Wall

I’ve been taking photographs of my garden as the spring blossoms appear and it was playing in the back of my mind that I should paint a wisteria watercolour.

But, I’ve not painted for almost three weeks because of holding open studios. I don’t like to be in the process of painting when I have people visit the studio.  There’s always the problem of being in mid-flow and needing to stop and talk to visitors. I’m really happy for people to come and see my work space, including works that may be in progress, but I find it too difficult to get into the flow of things and so painting isn’t an option for me.

Wisteria watercolour and releasing the creative block

I do find that if I’ve not painted for a while, I need to do something to loosen up before I get started. This can be a problem because I get stuck on what to paint to get me going. I’ve got a list of subjects I want to paint some time in the future, but these inevitable require some preparation – research and reference photographs at a minimum. That’s not a loosening up process – in fact it’s almost the opposite.

So I started with some music I’d been listening to in the morning, and decided to use this loosening up as a exercise in painting a picture with only one brush.

The music was Freshly Ground (great studio music). The brush was a size 12 sable filbert which holds ample water, and has a nice sharp edge. And I chose the subject by simply looking out of my studio window and painting what I could see. Somehow the block disappeared quite easily as I painted my wisteria watercolour.

I love wisteria. The scent is wonderful – although sadly, very short lived. The blossoms are a wonderful colour, and drape elegantly along the wall as they intertwine with other creepers. These flowers evoke early summer so strongly for me. They represent lazy weekend afternoons in the garden and the promise of months of sunshine and warm weather.