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  • Anne Ehrlich

Broken Telephone Painting Technique

In the past few months I've been trying out a painting method that's new to me and so far very liberating in terms of the pressure I have put on myself in the past when trying to make a painting. It may be old hat for some artists.


one of my first "broken telephone" sketches

So I go for a walk out in the woods, on the mountain, or occasionally this occurs when I'm driving. I see something in the woods, or through the woods against the mountainside that is vaguely unsettling. It is usually an interior space of the woods, or a tree, or a framed view that catches my eye and reminds me of something I can't quite put together in my head. Possibly it's an interior space I saw in a magazine or movie, or a dream space, but seemingly mundane and random with a slight shadow of unease.


I stand in the woods and make a brief, messy sketch of that view, a quick note-taking. Back in my house, I paint over the line work, trying to remember the colours, individual plants, and shadows. I use this painted sketch to set up a new, larger watercolour on stretched paper. I note the briefly sketched plants, jog my memory about the colours, and very loosely draw in the general composition. Then I close my notebook and paint the scene again on the watercolour paper.


My latest experiment is to repeat this process once more: scale up a second time to a much larger watercolour paper, refer briefly to my previously painted watercolour to set up the framework of the painting, and then put the reference image away.



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© 2020 by Anne Ehrlich.

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