Brenda Swenson's suggested add-ins
Today's subject didn't just catch my eye but grabbed me and stopped me in my tracks on the way to the garage. This stunning daisy is my favorite color, red of course so that may be partly why it spoke so loudly to me today.
To mix this color I began with Daniel Smith Watercolors: Cadmium Red Medium Hue, Quinacridone Rose, with French Ultramarine Blue for shadows and Hansa Yellow Light for the flower center and to mix a leafy green. I warmed my red with the yellow and cooled it with the French Ultramarine blue and created my neutral dark with all the colors in this palette. This was another fun exercise. I do find that the process takes a bit more time than the previous challenge did. This may mean fewer posts but they will continue with as much frequency as I can manage
Day one of a new challenge
And not completely sure where this one is going . . .but the idea being, a practice that gets me outside before the summer comes to a close and painting what I see in my backyard, either from life or a photo. My "rules" this time are, drawing or painting from life if at all possible, without creating more stress in an already too full schedule. If weather or time makes that impossible, then from a photo, but the photo has to be from something I notice while outside that day. My challenge will be to look for the predominant color of the subject matter, and then mix that color, rather than using a straight from the tube color. So, lets see how this goes.
I started by choosing a familiar subject, the frog name Robert, (because he came from a plant, jumped out of the hanging basket I was watering) who lives at the front door. We think he has taken on the roll of the doorbell since he lives where one would be if we had one and his croak is so loud that an approaching visitor would be well announced regardless of our doorbell deficit.
I limited my palette to sap green, yellow ochre and Phthalo Turquoise, mixed all my greens with those three colors I added burnt sienna, quinacridone purple and indigo to darken shadows. I cooled down my greens and shadows with purple and warmed them up with burnt sienna.
This is going to be fun.
Much like Opera Pink by Daniel Smith, this Turner Watercolor Opera Red is a very bold, bright red on the magenta side and a staining pigment. It's wide variety of values allowed me to use it almost exclusively to render all the different stages of this Rhododendron's bloom from completely closed to about to open.
This is the very last of my watercolor paints. I have swatched them all, and some more than once by accident. While that might be a good excuse to stop challenging myself in this way, I am not going to give it up just yet. I will reveal the next challenging idea tomorrow, but for now, it is nice to have met a goal of test driving every single tube of watercolor paint in my studio and in the process, now have a well established daily, (or almost daily) practice of painting in my sketchbook.
COBALT TURQUOISE & COBALT TURQUOISE LIGHT
Winsor Newton's Cobalt Turquoise and Turquoise Light are sister pigments and similar enough I swatched them together.
Cobalt Turquoise is a blend of blue and green pigments named for the for the semi-precious stone, turquoise. Cobalt Turquoise Light is a paler, slightly greener color than Cobalt Turquoise. My garden boots are the same beautiful greenish blue as Cobalt Turquoise light
L'Aquarelle by Sennlier makes this sky blue derivation of Phthalo Blue, the organic blue chemists came up with under the name of "monastal" blue. It is a highly complex organic synthesis. Even though Ultramarine Blue is considered the most important blue in a landscape painter's palette, it just cannot produce the blue of Phthalo Blue even mixed with other colors. It certainly nailed the color of the sky over the tulip fields in the Skagit Field on this particularly clear and bright day.
Sennlier L'Aquarelle uses a variant of Phthalo Blue that has a bit of a greener shade. Phtahlo Blue was a pigment that chemists developed with the trade name Monstral Blue in 1935 more or less by accident while creating a dyestuff to replace Prussian Blue. This version has zinc white in it and with a honey binder, is more opaque than most Phthalo blues. It is another interesting color
Winsor Newton Antwerp blue is a transparent blue color. and a softer version of Prussian Blue. It lifts well and would be a nice addition to the palette of a landscape painter for both water and sky.
Olive green is a soft, warm, brownish green from Winsor Newton Watercolors. It is a natural for the leafy greens in landscapes and botanicals. The dragonfly in this quick sketch was so clear and see-through that the greenery around him seemed to camouflage him.
PERMANENT SAP GREEN
Winsor Newton Permanent Sap Green is exactly what you would expect from a high quality water color. From their website, "Sap Green Permanent is a rich mid-range green with a yellow undertone." It's chemical composition is similar to other brands of sap green, Phthalo Green or Hooker's green. According to the website "Natural Pigments" sap green was made from the unripe berries of the Buckthorn plant historically. "In medieval times the extracted colorant was reduced to heavy syrup and sold in pig bladders, not as dry pigment." It was the right choice for the parrot feather rendered here.
Turner Watercolor's Sprout is certainly an interesting color. Falling somewhere between opaque and semi-opaque, the pale green washes down to nearly nothing. When you look at the pigment combination, it allows a fair insight into the reason it it what it is, a pale, cool green with a bit of phthalo green in the undertones. The chemical composition (phthalo green titanium dioxide, synthetic hydrated iron oxide, chlorinated-copper phthalocyanine), something outside my realm but easily researched, confirms my thought that the three ingredients would result in a chalky phthalo green. Fun to sculpt the little ghostly white spider I recently found in my home.
Transparent Orange is a fairly straight forward pigment by Schmincke . Their Hordam Aquarelle pigments, are created with unique pouring method that guarantees "that the first stroke of a wet brush captures the maximum pigment load". Transparent orange is an example off the beautiful uniform color, and ease of lifting, and excellent flow properties of all the quality Schmincke pigments from Germany.
Rembrandt watercolours are made in Holland and made from the purest pigments and purest gum Arabic for brilliant, colors that are uniformly consistent. Their copper is formulated with pigment-coated Mica. It has a very high lightfastness rating and is semi -opaque. I found the metallic consistency to be of high quality and the particles were suspended uniformly. This was the perfect way to capture the little hummingbird feathers I put under a microscope last night.
Terra Rosa by M. Graham is so much like the color I swatched yesterday, another very reddish brown. This one is, like all M. Graham paints, has honey as its binder, a fact that I was forgetting until I had applied the pigment so densely on the bar marked "mass tone" that it was still sticky this morning. Fortunately it was another very warm day and my studio gets quite warm because its lots of glass. It did eventually dry. I will remember to make sure I check how much binder comes out if I grab another tube that has bee laying around awhile.
The color is lovely and with a little addition of orange or purple, it offers a full range of warm brown just perfect for this beautiful free ranging cow we encounter on a drive last year.
Another lovely Holbein color, this brown is reminiscent of root beer straight from the tube. It is a relatively new color and not one that I am familiar with till now. There are other brands that have made Imidazoline Brown but I am unable to find out much information about its components and if it is a new synthetic version of an old organic color that is either no longer feasible to make or harmful to us or the environment. I am sure I will learn more with time. What I can say is that this brand of this pigment lays down beautiful with little effort and lifts easily. What a joy to use it to spend some time with one of the sweet Belgian Mules that used to live under Mt. Si in the meadows of scotch broom before they decided to mow it all done and put up condos. Miss this gals, seven beautiful ladies with blonde manes that shimmered in the sun.
Holbein makes a VanDyke Brown as does Winsor Newton and both are great for creating shadows, adding depth. I noticed just now that when I swatch tested the other brand of this color, I also did so with a chipmunk as subject matter. I guess VanDyke Brown is then "Chipmunk" colored.
Holbein Watercolor is a brand with a long reputation. Originally introduced in the early 1920’s, Holbein Artist Watercolor is a transparent watercolor that handles differently than other brands and more like Japanese Watercolors. Their website says that it is more finely ground than any other watercolor and not produced with ox-gall. They follow that statement up with a pretty strong claim about its being the reason for the fine handling quality of their pigments. And after playing for an afternoon with Raw Umber, I'd say they back it up well. This one at least was lovely to work with, layered beautifully, is transparent and a very consistent pigment.
Winsor Newton's Permanent Carmine is a jewel like pigment that layers beautifully. It builds to a deep ruby red after beginning as a baby soft pink. "In Antiquity, Carmine was made from thousands of crushed kermes insects." according to the Winsor Newton Website.
Daniel Smith's Shadow Violet is a complicated pigment that on the surface appears a smooth gray-mauve. On closer examination it displays a fascinating granulation, especially when applied in more than a light wash. In mass tone, Shadow Violet is a deep warm violet , shifting to a warm glow in thin applications. Shadow Violet's transparency makes it a great for glazing. I needed little else to paint this little bunny.
Sennlier L'aguarelle Watercolors, made with honey as their binder, are a very different experience to paint with. The pigments feel somehow more luxurious than those with other binders, but perhaps it is my imagination. Add to the unfamiliarity of the paint and its consistency, the fact that it is extremely hot here in the Pacific Northwest at the moment and paint dries super fast. I love the color, and the consistency is a treat. I will paint on a cooler day next time.
“I am a contemplative artist who has trouble accessing verbal skills. Finding the right words to talk about the amazing things I observe around me can be frustrating. It is much more natural for me to pick up a paintbrush, some embroidery floss or my camera when I wish to share some new discovery. The artwork I create is meant to be enjoyed on whatever level the viewer experiences it and not layered with complex meaning. Feathers, fur, flowers and the incredible variation I find in wildlife not only inspire me, but compel me to share every nuance with you.