Gouache Sample Cards with Zinc White

I am not the kind of person who likes to swatch things, colors, paints, knitting, and so on.  I just like to dive in and do things.  To a degree, this is good as it allows me to spend time learning about something before working on the theories, if that makes sense.  With painting, experiencing it first is for me a better way to understand something.  Afterward I can get analytical.

Since I feel comfortable now with gouache, I made up a series of swatch cards.  I took each color I have (which is far too many most likely!), painted a pure out-of-the-tube bit of color, and then, from right to left, added more white to see how the color changed.  It took a bit to figure out the best way to swatch, but that is how I like to do things – just do!

Each swatch card below can be enlarged so you can see the name of the paint color and see how it responds to the addition of white.

I found this to be a really helpful exercise. Some colors are so different when white is added, some for the better, some for the worse, and some are just plain surprising. For instance, I love Hooker’s Green in watercolor, but am not at all enamored with it in gouache. It could be the brand, too, but it came as a surprise.

My next exercise is likely to be adding black to the colors, or choosing a complementary color. I like the idea of working with complements for greys, and while blacks will dull a color, it is not the same as making a grey. I can also try my Holbein Grey #2 as well. Today, though, enough with analysis, and on to painting!

WWM #15: Monochromatic

Monochromatic – value studies – black, grey, white – something I never do.  I promised myself I would weeks ago, before beginning any painting.  As with most resolutions, it fell by the wayside.  However, I think monochrome value studies in gouache could be really rewarding and worth doing – you can make corrections as you go along, put white on black if need be.  Not so easy in watercolor, and pencil studies can get all fuzzy and blurred.

#WorldWatercolorMonth2019 is at its halfway point already!  Summer is fleeing . . .

See you tomorrow!

Caribbean Cool

I love the colors of houses seen throughout the Caribbean.  Brilliant sunshine sets them off beautifully.  The same with white – it becomes so bright it can be as blinding as snow in the sunshine.  Where I live, if anyone paints their house anything other than beige or some other neutral color, they sort of get a weird look, like “what’s wrong with them,” so the colors you see in the Caribbean is eye candy.

Of late, I have painting snow and water.  And skies.  Now, I am looking to trying to include buildings in my paintings.  I want to improve my perspective (the chimney here is cock-eyed) and to make them focal points.  At some point I may even brave putting people into my paintings.

Here, the study was not just architecture, but white and how to express it as something other than just white.  Fabriano Artistico, cobalt and ultramarine blue, sap and Hooker’s green, yellow ochre, and red oxide (I think).

White & Blue Flowers

After a lot of watercoloring, picking up a pen and using ink to draw feels really relaxing.  Adding watercolor to a pen drawing doesn’t need a lot of color, but it does require a bit of thought about light and shadow.

I thought about a daisy study of Peter Sheeler’s on YouTube – I remembered how very little color he added to his ink drawing of the daisy.  With this in  mind, I put in some greys and grey-blues.  I tried to apply the same concept to the blue flowers (which I want to call cornflowers, but don’t think they are), and to the grasses and leaves.  Below is my ink drawing, done freehand without a pencil sketch beforehand.  I am rather pleased with both – my inking skills are improving, as, perhaps, are my watercoloring skills.  Less is more has become more of motto than before!

Redbuds in Bloom

Outside my studio window is a small California Redbud.  It really needs more sunshine to show off its flowers – there is too much shade on the western side of my house, and so it does not bloom very often or very much.  Still, it is a lovely tree.  Slender branches, heart-shaped leaves that change color and drop in the autumn.  Local birds like to hang out in its branches.

Today, I tried to express the beauty of several redbuds in bloom, with spring growth abounding in new leaves.  I drew the trees first, then used frisket – a lot of it – in the forms of lines and dots.  From there, the background was laid in, using varying colors to represent leaves, flowers, and other trees or branches.  The frisket was then removed, and trunks painted using warm and cool greys.  Afterward, magentas and yellow greens, warm and cool.  It was all rather splattery!  Finally, after everything dried, white dots applied to suggest spring insects and twinkling sunlight.

Not entirely pleased.  As a realistic painting, it fails; however, as an abstract, it has potential.

Between Seasons

As we move into winter, I think of the places I lived when I was a kid, where 6 feet of snow was a “mild” winter.  Today, the low was about 56 F, and the high about 78 F.  Very different – and as an adult, I admit to preferring a lack of snow to an abundance!  Nonetheless, the seasonal changes are apparent here, just more subtle – the shift in light, the change in the blue.  Even the air smells different.

Working with Inktober, I can feel a shift in how I am approaching drawing, and painting.  I am simplifying but being more specific about the brush or pen size I choose and how to deploy a line or a brush stroke.  While there is a lot to be desired here – such as a sense of architectural reality and non-topsy-turvey houses – I had a lot of fun looking at areas of color as a suggestion, not a reality, as a plane rather than the detail I normally hone in on.

Maybe there is some hope after all!

Two Color Studies: Snowfall

Another study in Burnt Umber and Ultramarine Blue.  Cold, wintry colors.  Here is a study done to practice laying down a gradated wash.  Using a strong blue wash, I started at the top, then went all the way to the bottom, lighter by adding more water.  Then, starting at the bottom, I used a dry brush to begin removing the wash, bottom up, until I reached the horizon.  From there, a mixture of blue and brown to create the blurred trees in the distance.  Then trees, shadows, and the shading under the trees.  The paper is not the best for heavy washes – there is a bit of puddling – but the exercise of wash and 2 colors worked.  Finally, I took some white gouache on a toothbrush and splattered it to create the effect of snow.  Maybe this is really a 3-color study?

 

White = Snow

If you have been reading along, you know:  I make mud, I need lines, and I cannot get white space at all.  Well, in a moment of mad inspiration, I realized snow is white.  Let’s paint snow!  In my part of the world (California), we are in the midst of a hideous wildfire, which fortunately bypassed our neighborhood, but which could be visited by a fire any time.  Crazy winds and no rain make for dry and dangerous conditions, and certainly the last place where  you will expect to find snow.

Thus, snow.  I went to my favorite place (YouTube) and searched for “watercolor snow” and there we were!  Lot of them.  In particular, I found Peter Sheeler, whose videos are simple to follow, and quite lovely.  He uses a minimal palette, and just paints.  Subtitles let you know the colors and the technique.  Pleasant music moves you along.  Here is my version of his painting.

Peter Sheeler has another video that I used as well.  It was a bit more complex, but not only was it great for shadows on snow, he has very strong light – dark colors, another problem I struggle with.

And here is my version of it.  I was really intimidated by the dark trees and the rocks.  Besides using only Ultramarine, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Sienna (even though Sap Green is in his video’s palette), Peter uses a 1/2 inch flat brush.  I have some flat brushes, and they scare the hell out of me.  I think people who love flat brushes are nuts.  No more:  I bit the bullet and pulled out my flats and did the entire painting in a flat brush, varying sizes as necessary.  And I used micron pens, too, as did Peter.

I am feeling a lot more confident now about colors, white space, limited palettes, and flat paint brushes.  I think I will continue to follow along with Peter Sheeler’s videos – he is a really good painter, I like his style, and am confident I will get a lot out of his videos.  And Peter, if you should come across this, let me tell you, “Thanks!”