watercolor


The cicada I sketched didn’t last too long after I returned it to the wild.  The next day I found its wings in the driveway.

cicada-wings-ink-watercolor-drawing-chris-carter-artist-060713-webThe cicadae mating song can reach over 100 decibels, the loudest song known in the insect world.  “The adult male cicada possesses two ribbed membranes called tymbals, one on each side of its first abdominal segment. By contracting the tymbal muscle, the cicada buckles the membrane inward, producing a loud click. As the membrane snaps back, it clicks again. The two tymbals click alternately.”

Here is the ink drawing shown in the last post …. now painted using an analogous with one complement color scheme.

17 year cicada

17 year cicada

Finally, after far too long, I am offering online critiques and private lessons….. visit my website for information and sign up.

I hope, within the next month, I will be able to offer The Color Workshop as an online option.

Thanks for your patience.

Images:  Drawn first with ink using a fountain pen, followed by watercolor.

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For the past several years a small group of women artists met in homes and coffee shops to share ideas and support one another in our journey along the creative path.  B gifted each one of us with a small, cardboard chair as a symbol of our friendship.  She discovered the chairs in Paris.  Each is made from one piece of flat cardboard folded into the shape of the chair.

Cardboard Chair No.1

After playing the Color Scheme Game for a couple of years now, the world of neutrals sprawls out before me like an unexplored territory.  I feel as if I rounded a corner and now find myself in the Yosemite Valley of possibilities and beauty.

Cardboard Chair No.2

Sketchbook Drawings:

Cardboard Chair No. 1 – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor and gouache.

Cardboard Chair No. 2 – drawn first with carbon pencil followed by watercolor and gouache.

For those of you who have been following my blog, you know by now that I get distracted easily.  Every time I clear space in my head, a new idea for a series of paintings fills the gap.

Early morning light… 6:30 am and 7:30 am

In addition to experimenting with the new, Seasonal Variation of The Color Scheme Game, I am exploring the colors of the landscape through the day.  I attempt to match the colors as closely as I can with little, if any, concern for describing the landscape itself.  I make note of the date, time, weather conditions and the colors I mix.  the BFK Rives printmaking paper that I have been using in my handmade sketchbooks may not be the best paper for this purpose.  I find I am using more water, diluting the pigment more than I usually do when playing the game.

Journal of Landscape Light: painted with watercolors on BFK paper, early morning on September 26, 2012

Yesterday I taught the first, official Color Scheme Workshop at the Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster, New Jersey.  Five fabulous, hard-working, fun-loving students attended.

Hard at work playing the Color Scheme Game

I tried to keep them happy with snacks of almonds, sunflower seeds and raisins.  I think it worked.  They were still smiling at the end of the day!

My Fabulous Five

Feedback was great.  There were some excellent suggestions made to make the workshop even better next time around.

Color mixing exercise transformed into color wheel

The Center for Contemporary Art was pleased and scheduled another workshop on February 26, 2013, 10 am to 3 pm.

Annie’s Creative Color from a black feather

Each student worked with a different combination of primary colors, a limited palette of one red, one blue and one yellow.  Working in a group allows comparison of various mixes of warm and cool primaries.  Creative color alternatives abounded by the end of the afternoon.

A big thank you to my fabulous five!

As I sat outside Artfully Elegant (next to the historic Bethlehem Hotel), I sketched the street and the people enjoying the monthly Art Walk.

Art Walk, Bethlehem, PA, August 2012

A fountain pen, a waterbrush and a cd case with pieces of Peerless Watercolor Papers taped to the inside works incredibly well to add touches of color to a drawing.  Everything is conveniently on my lap and I’m able to stop at any moment to talk with people about the paintings I have displayed on the table beside me.

En Plein Air Sketchbook drawings: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Rome Burning Ink, followed by washes of Peerless Watercolor.

I highly recommend making small color wheels using only three colors. Label them carefully with both the manufacturer and the name of the color.

Possible combinations of six pigments, warm and cool

Professional grade can differ greatly from student grade.  A “hue” will contain more binder and less pigment.  Manufacturers also differ significantly.

Looking at photos of color wheels is not the same as making your own.  by making your own you will immediately understand the characteristics of the pigments, the transparency or opacity, the tinting strength and the tendency toward warm or cool.  The mystery of mixing greens and purples will vanish.  The little color wheels can be carried with you when you paint en plein air.

In The Color Scheme Game Workshops, I ask the students to bring one tube each of any red, yellow and blue watercolor.  Each student makes one color wheel.  We end up with a variety of pigments being used and a variety of oranges, purples and greens to compare with one another when the color wheels are completed.

The ideal limited palette includes a warm yellow, cool yellow, warm red, cool red, warm blue and cool blue.  With those six pigments almost any color can be mixed, including all the beautiful neutrals.  A few of my favorite colors that can’t be mixed are the cobalt violets and the turquoise blues.  when travel space allows, I usually bring viridian and burnt sienna for convenience and economy.  I can mix those two colors but it is more costly in time and money to do so.

I used the following colors to make the eight wheels shown above.

Aureolin (Winsor Newton) – cool yellow, transparent, professional grade

Gamboge Hue (Grumbacher) – warm yellow, slightly opaque, professional grade

Phthalo Blue (Sennelier Aquarelle Extra Fine) – cool blue, fairly transparent, professional grade

Ultramarine Blue (Cotman) – warm blue, slightly opaque, student grade

Carmine (Holbein) – cool red, transparent, professional grade

Cadmium Red Light (Grumbacher) – warm red, opaque, professional grade

At first glance the Aureolin and the Gamboge Hue might appear identical.  However, their unique characteristics become apparent when mixed with other pigments.

Note that no matter what the proportions of cadmium red light to phthalo blue might be, one will never arrive at a purple, only variations (often beautiful) of browns and grays.  There is too much yellow in both the cadmium red light and the phthalo blue.  The yellow negates any purple that might be tempted to appear.

The following are the eight combinations possible with six pigments, a warm and cool of yellow, red and blue:

Warm yellow, warm red, warm blue

Warm yellow, warm red, cool blue

Warm yellow, cool red, warm blue

Warm yellow, cool red, cool blue

Cool yellow, warm red, warm blue

Cool yellow, warm red, cool blue

Cool yellow, cool red, warm blue

Cool yellow, cool red, cool blue

It’s worth the time to create the color wheels.  Please believe me!  Let me know, after making the wheels, if you agree.

Six variations are possible given three shapes painted using three colors …  3 times 2 times 1. (An early math lesson I use often to remind myself of the choices possible when putting brush to paper or canvas.

Six Variations …. plus two more by altering color

The six variations using green, yellow and purple are shown above.  If I add red to the variables there are now twenty-four variations ….. 4 times 3 times 2 times 1!

For this exercise I chose yellow, green and purple to illustrate not only color changes but also value changes and the spacial illusions created by each variation.  Yellow is a light value, green is a middle value and the purple is the dark value.  My morning color exercises remind me daily the importance of thinking value first …. then color.

Sketchbook color study in watercolor.

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