Larger Hard Edge Line and Wash Geometric Watercolor Kinda Circle Grid

After running through quite a few sketchbook studies of kinda circle grids, I decided to paint a couple larger variations. It was fun to paint a larger 10×14 version of the kinda circle grids because I had a sense for where I was going and that I’d probably like the outcome.

I wanted the larger circle grid to maintain a visible pencil grid with blue lines. The process for painting the picture started as a pencil drawing. I drew the grid and then drew diagonal lines through the grid where I’d cut off the circles.

With the diagonal lines in place I started the process of drawing the circles in pencil. After all of the circles were drawn in pencil I went over the circles in pen.

Hand drawn kinda circle grid with pen and a blue pencil grid. Taped down and ready for watercolor.

Drawing the grid made me think about how much more quickly it could be drawn with a pen plotter (automation), but everything was done by hand. Drawing the circles was much easier because I got these little circle tools to draw perfect circles.


I started painting after finishing the grid. The goal was to use a slightly different color palette than I typically use. It had a range of blues, orange, purple, and greyed out blues. It was surprisingly calming to paint circle after circle.

The main risk you encounter with hard edge watercolor painting is putting your hand down in a wet circle. It took a while to paint everything and I started to measure my daily progress in terms of how many circles I painted that day.

Watercolor painting blues and neutrals on a geometric, kinda circle grid.

I used a range of Daniel Smith watercolor paints for the painting and every circle was done with a wet on wet technique. I’ve painted quite a few hard edge watercolors and find it easier to get clean lines with wet on wet.

One of the other things I was conscious of while painting was the allocation of neutrals, primary colors, and highlights. I was roughly targeting a 60, 30, 10 allocation of the different colors. I counted circles quite a few times, but I didn’t really keep the exact ratio. I’m also happy to say that I’ve already forgotten the total number of circles.

Other Ideas

In the process of creating these circle grids I thought a lot about generative art and how I could have used it to create the grids. When I use p5.js I’m typically using random() to inform different lines, but I also use Perlin Noise. I started to wonder if the lines I was drawing by hand were closer to random or noise. I thought about it a lot and still don’t have an answer.

At any rate, here are a few images of the finished painting. Enjoy.

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