palette


By altering the green with each dip of the brush an illusion of space is created around each fragrant leaf of the French Tarragon.

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French Tarragon – Artist Trading Card

The color palette is cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow, cerulean blue and a touch of french ultramarine blue.  Some of the leaves are painted with one stroke of the brush, others are painted wet in wet, adding variations of green within a single leaf.

Sketchbook drawing: French Tarragon – illustration drawn first in ink with a fountain pen, followed by watercolor

Color Scheme: Analogous – Blue/Green, Green and Yellow/Green.  Dominant Color: Green

Color schemes have become another fine-tuned skill in my toolbox.  As with any tool, a lifetime can be spent learning new uses for tools.

Photo of Glass Inkwells and Travel Palette

Photo of Glass Inkwells and Travel Palette

Unexpected possibilities now present themselves during my morning practice of the Color Scheme Game.

Line Drawing

Line Drawing

Normally, I would continue the line drawing adding the pans of watercolor and the indications of the mixing wells.  At this point, I stopped.  There was something about the large, open shape of the palette without details that I liked.  It gave contrast to the smaller shapes that describe the inkwells.

Painting in the Inkwells

Painting in the Inkwells

I decided to throw the die and paint in only the inkwells leaving me the option of drawing the pans of pigment before painting the palette shape.  I came up with the Basic Triad Color Scheme with red as one of the colors.

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One more step

I went one step further to paint the inside lip of the travel palette.  I put the drawing aside until the next morning to see if I felt the same way about it.  In the middle of the night I awoke with the idea of indicating the paint in the palette as splats rather than pans of pigment.

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Glass Inkwells No.18 with pigment splats

I’m pleased with the results and glad that I allowed for something new to happen.

Sketchbook Drawing: Glass Inkwells No. 18, Ink and Watercolor. Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black ink followed by watercolor.

Color Scheme: Basic Triad of yellow, red and blue.

Limite palette: Cadmium Yellow Pale, Cadmium Red Light, French Ultramarine Blue

Each week when I visit my father, he has lost more buttons.

Sewing Buttons for Dad

My morning Color Scheme Game exercise indicated a color scheme of extended analogous with three complements, with Red as the dominant color.  That worked out well; the buttons are red.  My palette options were Violet, Red-Violet, Red, Red-Orange, Orange plus Yellow-Green, Green and Blue-Green.  I opted not to use the Green and Blue-Green.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Whaleman’s Sepia followed by watercolor.

When I’m traveling and painting, it takes about three days for me to adjust my palette to the location and seasonal light upon the landscape.

Baccharis in bloom and pines

Though I’ve painted in Tyaskin, MD before, it’s always been in spring or summer.  The beauty of Baccharis in bloom against the autumn colors of pines, phragmites, meadow grasses and marsh is absolutely stunning.

Late afternoon light filtering through the forest

Every direction I turn, I see the opportunity to explore the autumn light bouncing off of indigenous plants, delighting my eyes with new and unfamiliar patterns and shapes.

K-car as en plein air studio

When time is short and the light is changing quickly, I skip setting up my easel.  The trunk of my K-car works just fine.

Anita’s meadow, Tyaskin, MD

I couldn’t resist one last painting as the late afternoon glow was fading…..

Baccharis in bloom and Phragmites

Just as I’m beginning to mix my colors intuitively, my visit to Maryland draws to a close.  Without doubt, I’ll return next October.  Not only is it exquisitely beautiful …… I can paint outside without covering myself in bug spray!

Color studies:  en plein air oil paintings, 5″ x 5″ on gessoed wood panels.

The dip pen and ink led to frustration and too much ink bleed into the watercolor during the Color Scheme Game Workshop.  I can’t expect everyone to have the same passion I have for dip pens and fountain pens.

Vintage Sheaffer fountain Pen

Thanks to a student’s suggestions, I tested a fine line Sharpie marker to see if it would bleed.  It did not.  Rather than struggling with ink blops and long drying periods I’m switching to permanent markers for the half day and single day workshops.

Color Scheme Game Painting:  drawn first with fine line Sharpie marker followed by watercolor.  Color Scheme is complementary (blue and orange).

Treasures galore at the Route 46 Flea Market …

Flea Market Treasures

Deciding what to draw first was difficult, a toss up between the glass inkwells and the colored glass that filled a 1950′s mint tin (I remember those mints well …. soft and buttery).

Colored Glass

I threw the dice and ended up with an Analogous Color Scheme with Split Complements, Yellow as my dominant color.

Color Glass playing The Color Scheme Game

Colors: Yellow-Orange, Yellow, Yellow-Green with Red-Violet and Blue-Violet.

Sketchbook Drawing: drawn first with fountain pen.  I ran out of ink in one filled with Alt Goldgrun ink and continued with another filled with Noodler’s Black Ink.  Followed by watercolor.

I’ve discovered the pleasure of growing plants to brew tea from fresh leaves.  Rose Geranium tea is delicious!

Rose Scented Geraniums – Pelargonium Graveolens

Both of my Rose Scented Geraniums share a large, clay pot beside my back stoop.  I have an Old Fashioned Rose Scented Geranium and a Silver Edge Rose Scented Geranium.  They are both considered to be Pelargonium Graveolens.  The fragrance is delightful and the tea brewed from their leaves is refreshing and subtle.  A touch of raw honey from the bee hives across the street and I’m in heaven.

Never again will I moan over the multitude of greens in the summer.  As long as I stay either to the cool side headed toward gray as a neutralized green or the warm side headed toward brown as a neutralized green (depending on my color scheme) I can have the best of both warms and cools without conflict.  If I don’t become too distracted, I’ll paint a chart that illustrates my point.  In this painting I stayed on the side of grays rather than browns and was able to achieve both warm and cool variations in the leaves.  My palette was viridian, french ultramarine blue, phthalo blue, cadmium lemon and a touch of permanent crimson.  Note that they are all cool variations of their hues.  I did not use a warm green, a warm blue, a warm yellow or a warm red.

The greens I created are not realistic for a sunny day, but are quite close to the color of the geranium leaves on a bright but overcast day.  My choice was not based on reality anyway….. it was based on beautiful color and the joy of allowing pigment to mix on the paper, wet in wet creating gorgeous transitions from warm to coll and back again.

Color Scheme: Analogous

Drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor

After two days of struggling to break through a few plein air landscape barriers, it’s a relief to return to familiar territory, ink and watercolor botanical drawing.

Buddleia – Butterfly Bush

I love painting on the Rives BFK paper in my sketchbook.  I’ve ordered fifty 22″ x 30″ sheets to experiment painting large, en plein air, on a steep slant.  I don’t know how it will drip, but looking forward to finding out.

Color Palette: Analogous with near complement, Yellow/Green, Green, Blue/Green with Red/Violet.

Cutting or carrying armloads of gladioli from acres of newly bloomed, spiked flowers was part of my job as a young teen working on a local farm. Though I love flowers, gladioli were never among my favorites. I thought of them only as funeral flowers.

Gladiolus plant, ink and watercolor sketch

My attitude changed a couple of days ago when the gladioli were the only flowers not yet suffering from the drought. It was my first ever attempt to draw or paint a gladiolus plant. I had not realized it is a genus of the iris family, iridacae. It wasn’t until I had completed my first drawing (see today’s post on my other blog) that I made the connection. Drawing opens my eyes to the obvious I often miss even when I am standing in the middle of it.

Watercolor sketch:  drawn first with fountain pen filled with blue ink, followed by watercolor.

Color Palette:  I used a limited palette of phthalo blue (Joe’s Blue), alizarin crimson and gamboge.

The palettes arrived!

Step One: Primary Colors Yellow, Blue, Red

I was amazed by how difficult it was to find an inexpensive, round palette that provided the necessary quantity of wells to work for The Color Scheme Game workshops.  Most of the palettes had only ten wells.  This one has ten wells on the outer ring, but the six wells on the inner ring make it acceptable.

Step Two: Secondary Colors: Orange, Green and Purple

Colors can be kept separate and clean.

Step Three: Warm and cool variations of each primary and secondary color

This is where it gets a little dodgy because the wells are out of alignment and there are only ten.

Step Four: Adjustments and additions…. the fun begins!

Adjustments can be made and additional colors mixed to create more even transitions.  It’s perfect!  Two extra little wells in the center …. perhaps for ultra dark mixes?  Perhaps for ultra translucent mixes …. whatever your pleasure1

I am delighted with these little palettes.

I purchased them on ebay from a vendor called ‘shinykingdom’.  They were half the price that I saw listed on other sites …. though I saw them on very few sites.

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