Category Archives: ACA assignment2

Andy Warhol’s blotted line print drawings

When I was in my early 20s I used to read many books about Andy Warhol. One is “Warhol” by David Bourdon. I picked it up again today and started reading / flipping through it again. I love Warhol’s early commercial work — he developed a technique called “blottled line” printing. so, wanting to know more about it, I searched the net and found the following links:

Blotted Line — Learn Warhol’s Commercial Illustration Technique from The Andy Warhol Museum website. they had a video too — I won’t embed it as it’s a private video, but it’s useful to see how the technique is done. I also found a class instruction sheet for blotted line drawing.

basically, you trace an image in pencil on tracing paper, then ink the underside of the tracing in multiple small sections, and then press down onto the paper to print it. Warhol left in the small ink blots as part of the charm of his drawings. when I’d first seen them I thought he’d just drawn them in ink. but, by using this printing technique, he was able to create multiple versions — and make slight changes, which he could show to the advertising agencies so there was more chances of them liking one of his drawings. keep in mind he was using this technique in the late 1940s and 1950s prior to computers. according to the book, he would work on each drawing all day and into the night, creating different versions. once the printing inks were dry, he’d colour the drawings with watercolours — the video shows ink-dropper bottles of liquid watercolour — I want to try these! I’ve only got tubes and a pan of tablet style watercolours at home to use. sometimes, he’d add gold foil to the drawings for extra effect.

there’s another tutorial on Warhol’d rubber stamping technique too, so I’ll look at this also too.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a photo of one of Warhol’s gold leaf ink drawings of a shoe, from 1956.


here’s my first attempt at blotted line printing
I didn’t have proper tracing paper so I had to improvise and use Bank Layout paper, but I found it wasn’t transparent enough so I modified the procedure and printed the reverse image. I found that the ink dried very quickly and soaked into the paper, especially at the ends of the lines so there’s *large* blots on the page and really thick lines. I used a bamboo pen and black indian ink (Winsor & Newton). as the print looked a bit rough, I thought I’d brighten it up with some brusho powder paints and water. the colours bled/ran quite a lot but I love their effects. the page always looks best when the brusho paints are still wet and glossy so the photo below is in this state. I’ll take another once it dries — the colours will be more faded unfortunately.

original sunflower image: (on a greeting card that I purchased)

the printing process and ink print:

after the printing ink dried I added some brusho colours — it looks best when still wet and glossy. I’m not sure how to keep it in this state. maybe a fixative would help lock in the glossiness? I only used green, yellow, orange and crimson (red), but the powders have a mixture of colours in them so there’s some lovely blues appearing too

trying this technique really makes you appreciate Warhol’s skill at it. I’ll try again with tracing paper and an ink pen with nib to see if I can get the lines finer, but if you look at his lines and dots they are very fine! the blots / dots are almost like drawn dots. his images in this style would be good to stitch too — I love the one shown above with the faces — it’s both fresh and quirky. with his printing, it’s often about which lines he included and which were left out too — the decisions he made were quite amazing, and gave character to the drawings. I think he worked in this way for around 10 years and was well known as New York’s leading shoe illustrator. I can see how this printing technique led to his expertise in screen printing later in his life too.

second attempt:

this time I used tracing paper, and a pen + fine nib. though even using the fine nib pen still caused large blobs on the page. I tried turning the nib over and found this was better. it made some of the small dots as seen in Warhol’s prints. obviously there’s still a long way until this is as fine and clean as his work, but I can see now how some of the thin lines and dots were made.


& I used the brusho powders in a different way to how I usually do too. this time I put some powder into a paint tray and then sprayed it with water. liquid paint — it reminds me of the St Martins. (have found a place that sells them though they mentioned ink instead of watercolour dyes, so I’m just clarifying before purchasing)


I tried some more later after purchasing higher quality (architect’s film) tracing paper and was much happier with the results.

see assignment 2 project 4 stage 2

A2: Proj3 Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects

Assignment 2: Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects – exercise 1

from the class notes:

“Choose a background fabric – white, black or a primary colour. Choose threads – perhaps primary colours of equal intensity. If possible find the same colour in different yarns or ribbons – matt, shiny and textured. Try working them together, mixing them and separating them. Make the knots very dense so that the background is not visible. Then work further apart so the background has its own effect on the colours. Add a third colour (different from the background or yarn), maybe a secondary colour.”

Assignment 2: Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects – exercise 2

This time we had to use pastel colours and “[m]ix the colours so that a gradual colour movement occurs across the sample”.

I don’t really like pastel colours much, but I was happy with the final piece / sample.

the photo shows both exercises:



were you able to mix and match colours accurately?
yes, I think I was able to colour match the original colours after mixing the paints. I enjoyed the colour mixing and colour exploration exercises. it was great to see how the combinations of colours created other colours, and the variations you can create by changing the quantities of the source colours.

were you able to use colour expressively?
yes, I think so. I think my early sketchbook work was quite tentative, but the later examples after I’d completed these exercises is showing improvement.

can you now see colour rather than accepting what you think you see?
yes, I can see different tones and ranges of colours and now I try to guess how the colour was created.

did you prefer working with watercolours or gouche paints? what was the difference?
at first I hated the watercolours, but I did a couple of online courses and learned some techniques such as “wet on wet” and “wet on dry”, which may be basic techniques, but I hadn’t been aware of what to look for in each of these, so it was really useful. so now I love watercolours — being able to water down the colours and apply in layers to add depth to the colours, and even to create new colours. the guache was good too, but the paint is thicker. it does feel nice to paint with, more silky. but I am now trying to practice watercolours more.

how successful were the colour exercises in stage 5? how did they compare to the painting exercises?
I enjoyed learning the French knot stitches, as I hadn’t done those before. and it was good to see how the threads merged the colours and created blends when the colours changed gradually, and stark changes when they didn’t. the colours “popped” more when there were blocks of colour. I think it was easier to blend the colours whilst painting as you can change the graduation more. this may need more practice to be able to “draw/paint with threads” also

is there anything you would like to change or develop?
I’d like to practice more of the stitching, and see where that leads. and I’d like to (and am) practice watercolour painting more, as I feel that I’m starting to get the hang of them (with later paintings such as the “pears”, not the earlier exercises, where the paint is applied quite roughly).

A2: Proj3 Stage 5 Coloured stitches

A2: Stage 5 Coloured stitches

create stitch samples similar to using some of these suggestions for this exercise:


  • build up solid masses of one colour against the second colour
  • change the proportions of colour
  • isolate one colour against a mass of the second colour
  • alternate the colours in varying proportions
  • vary the distance between lines so that the background plays a part in making the colours appear to change.


A2: Proj3 Stage 3 Recording colours accurately – exercise 4

Assignment 2: Stage 3 Recording colours accurately – exercise 4

this exercise involved colour mixing and matching of real objects.

the first one I did was (half of) a pair of pliers, using watercolours:
a photo of the original

watercolours painting

the second one was a lemon, using guache paints:

months later (in August 2014), after doing a couple of short online classes with Carla Sonheim and in this case Fred Lisaius, and after doing many more paint and colour exercises in my sketch book / work book, I had painted “A pair of pears” which I think is a similar exercise to this one. I think this is much improved — I’m finally getting the hang of watercolours.

this is the original picture:

and this is the watercolour painting I made. I used new Schmincke and Winsor & Newton pan watercolours and mixed the colours. Fred explained how to do the colours in layers and had use use “wet on wet” technique. at times this was causing me problems, so I returned to Carla’s “wet on dry” technique and then I found a way of getting more control of the blending once the paint had dried a bit. I like the painting so much I’ve dropped it off at the framers to be framed.

A2: Proj3 Stage 3 Recording colours accurately – exercise 2

Assignment 2: Stage 3 Recording colours accurately – exercise 2

For this exercise, we had to find a piece of fabric, stick it to a piece of paper, then mix colours to match the fabric border and paint next to the fabric to try extend the fabric colours onto the page, seamlessly.

I enjoyed this exercise. though the hardest part was mixing enough colour to use on the whole border. I found that I had to mix some of them more than once and then ran out of paint. so, it’s not perfect. but it was a good exercise to try an match the colours as closely as possible

here’s the fabric and painted border. I used watercolours at first as this is all I had with me


here’s the paper I used to test the colour mixing:

A2: Proj3 Stage 3 Recording colours accurately – exercise 1

Assignment 2: Stage 3 Recording colours accurately – exercise 1

This exercise involved mixing colours—from page 62 of class notes:

You can dilute colours with white to obtain paler tints.


  • You can mix colours with black, which will take the light out of them and make them
    much duller.
  • You can mix colours with grey which will make them less intense.
  • You can mix pure colours with their complementary colour to make all the darker,
    duller tones of a particular colour. It is often better to mix these darker in-between colours in this way rather than using black. Black seems to deaden colour, whereas colours toned down by their complementary seem to have much more life about them.mixing colours — watercolours
    I spent a while on this exercise.

    initially I used watercolours as this is all I had available to me at the time.




    mixing colours — guache
    then, later I repeated the exercise with gouche paints.



    for some of them I mixed the colours directly onto the paper: