Underwater encounter


I have to admit this Thanksgiving week that I have a pretty incredible life. I live in paradise and I love what I do. I’m forever grateful for all the opportunities that come my way, including this one here where I can share a little bit of it.

I try to swim daily as part of my exercise routine. Saturdays I have life drawing in the morning and so I swam on my own in the afternoon. This is at our little beach near my home in Kehena, HI. I always wear a mask, snorkel and fins because the currents can be strong at times. This particular Saturday, which is yesterday as I write this blog, I saw the most beautiful eagle ray glide gently under me. At that moment I thought, I must share this for the blog. So here we are.

For this project you will need the following:

Yasutomo Sumi Ink

Pale Gold Sumi Watercolor

Gel Xtreme Pens, Gold and White

Paper, Pencil, an eraser, and a watercolor brush


I always start my project with a thumbnail sketch.


Then I redraw the image to the size I want the finished drawing on the paper I have chosen. Here, one made of hemp, I liked the speckles on the paper and the nice creamy color.


The main subject of my drawing is the eagle ray floating above stylized water. I paint the ray with the sumi ink.


Then it’s time to paint the water. I want it dramatic against the black so I go with the Pale Gold Sumi Watercolor. I take my time going around all the circles, kind of like my last project (the glazing technique one). When I finish, I take a Gel Xtreme gold pen and rule a line around the whole image. Then I erase all the pencil lines.


This is a photo of the back of an actual eagle ray. To do this on my black ray I needed the help of Yasutomo’s GelXTreme  pastel pen in white. It was way easier than trying to paint all the circles and dots!


Here’s a closeup of my version.

Thanks for letting me share my awesome experience! And I am truly thankful to all those who have touched my life. You have no idea how much you mean to me.



Glazing with Niji Splash Ink


Today  I want to show examples of a watercolor technique called glazing, which is basically painting in layers of color. The Niji Splash Ink is a very cool system. In a set you get the three primary colors, plus black. You also get a formula guide to make other colors. This is really a fantastic and easy system to get consistent colors instead of having to blindly mix colors and wasting a lot of paint.


What you need:

  • Niji Splash Ink
  • water dropper or a Yasutomo waterbrush
  • watercolor paper (I used watercolor postcards here)
  • watercolor brushes
  • brush cleaning water  and container (I used an old yogurt tub)

I started with two blank watercolor postcards. I mix up some colors using the handy chart. For a dropper I use the water brush.


With a wide flat brush I first lay down a wash of water. This is so the paint will go down more smoothly. Then on one I put down a wash of one color. On the other I decide to do a multicolored background.

greenbackgroundpaper colorfulbackgroundpaper

I let them dry and then on the single colored card I put down a swirl design in the same color.



Again, I let the paint dry and then I go back and add dashes with the same color again. Another “layer”.


While that one is drying I go back to the other painting with the multicolored background. Where I live there was an iconic ironwood tree that seemed to defy the natural elements and even though it was not living anymore it still stood tall on the beach. People would climb it and decorate it. I used to draw it almost daily, every time I went to the beach. I wrote about it on another blog when it finally did come crashing down in a severe storm a couple of years ago. You can read about it here and see some of my old sketches: http://tukoart.blogspot.com/2011/12/kehena-beach-ironwood-tree.html  So I decided to paint the tree again on the multicolored background. I used an ink drawing I had done at the beach as my reference. I start again with the same green tone I had already mixed.


First I paint a line drawing, let it dry and go back for shading. Letting it dry after each application and painting over an area to make it darker and darker. We’re glazing.


Here are the finished paintings and original sketch of the tree.


Of course I was having too much fun experimenting with the  Splash Ink, so I decided to do more. This time playing with negative space. I took a card and after the water and color wash (and letting it dry) I drew different sized circles in pencil.


I then painted in the same color the negative space, that is, the space around the circles, not the circles themselves.


I went back and drew more circles, intersecting the existing circles and painted around them again.



I did this over and over until I ended up with this.


Then I thought what if I did paint just the dots, the “positive space” going through all the same steps, letting the paint dry at each step. The beauty of Splash Ink is if you run out of paint you can mix the same color again using the formulas already calculated. Here’s that version.


Neat effect, I think I prefer the negative version. I’m going on…


and now it’s your turn.