A quick demonstration for the ladies who attended the workshop at Village Arts Supply in Santa Rosa on Novemeber 3, 2012  ……

Eye Dropper

I started off with a simple contour drawing in permanent, fine tip marker.  Next I demonstrated how to lay down a wash by “pushing the puddle” of watercolor.  The key is to keep the puddle moving downward while the paper is slightly tipped toward you, turning the paper when you need to work around a corner.  When you reach the bottom, carefully wick away the puddle, drying your brush quickly on a paper towel or sponge between wickings.  Do not touch the surface of the paper with the brush, only the puddle itself.  Let the paper dry at a slant so the paint doesn’t move back onto a dry area.

Demonstration Painting:  “Eye Dropper” – drawn first with fine tip Sharpie marker, followed by watercolor.

Color Scheme: Analogous with Split Complements:  Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green with Red and Violet.

What a whirlwind!

Working by oil lamp

We lost power early on Monday, October 29th as Hurricane Sandy howled its way into New Jersey.  Still hoping that my plane would be able to take off on Thursday morning …. and that I would be able to get myself to the airport past fallen trees and strewn power lines, I completed preparing the materials for the Color Scheme Game Workshops scheduled in Santa Rosa, CA for Nov. 2nd and 3rd.  Oil lamps illuminated my efforts to be totally prepared.

United Club at Newark Airport

With only minor detours I wound my way down to the highway and drove through the predawn darkness to the airport, hoping to be able to make contact with the internet world as I waited for my plane departure.  No such luck.  Terminal C was without internet, but the flight was not delayed.

Village Art Supply Color Scheme Game Workshop

Color Scheme Game Workshop demonstration

Thank you Joanie Springer! for hosting and putting together two fantastic workshops!  No doubt I will be returning to Santa Rosa in the near future.  Thank you Village Arts for hosting the second workshop in the center of your bright and inspiring art store!  A great time was had by all.

Sketchbook Drawings: Top – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watercolor and gouache.  Middle – drawn with fountain pen filled with Sheaffer black cartridge ink. Bottom – drawn first with Sheaffer fountain pen followed by watercolor – demonstration in process at private Color Scheme Game Workshop.

The second throw of the die gave me yellow-green as a dominant color.  Rules are meant to be broken or re-interpreted.

Glass Inkwells No. 5

The first throw of the die gave me an analogous color scheme with one complement.  That means I use three colors adjacent to one another on the twelve hue color wheel plus one complement of any of those three hues.  The traditional interpretation of that color scheme with yellow-green as the dominant color would be: Yellow-Green and the two colors on either side of Yellow-Green which would be Yellow and Green …. plus either Red, Red-Violet or Violet.

When I looked at my ink drawing I kept seeing the two large rectangles as Yellow-Green, almost a yellow.  I didn’t want to use the colors on either side (yellow or green) in the painting.  Instead, I used my dominant color Yellow-Green as the complement of the analogous trio Red-Violet, Violet and Blue-Violet.  The rule that I try not to break is the rule of Being Flexible.

When I teach the Color Scheme Game Workshops, I am reminded that it is difficult for many people to break the rules.  I encourage you to do so!

I have listed below the variations possible, and totally permissible, that I could have chosen when I threw the die this morning.

1. Traditional Combination …. Yellow, Yellow-Green, Green with either Red, Red-Violet or Violet

2. Yellow-Green, Green, Blue-Green with either Red-Violet, Red or Red-Orange

3. Yellow-Green, Yellow, Yellow-Orange with either Red-Violet, Violet or Blue-Violet

4. Red-Violet, Red, Red-Orange with Yellow-Green

5. Violet, Red-Violet, Red with Yellow-Green

6. Blue-Violet, Violet, Red-Violet with Yellow-Green

Remember that the purpose of playing the game is to sharpen your tools so that when you are painting your more ‘serious’ work, you can craft it more masterfully and have more confidence (and more fun) doing so.

Sketchbook drawing: Glass Inkwells No. 5 – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watercolor using a limited palette of Yellow-Green, Red-Violet, Violet and Blue-Violet.

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).

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!

Sometimes strangers go unnoticed in a crowd, sometimes they call attention to themselves by their shape, size or attire.  And so it is with elements in a painting.

“Stranger in a Strange Land” (14″ x 22″) watercolor

While preparing for tonight’s demonstration of The Color Scheme Game for the members of the Art Association in Roxbury, NJ, I painted an abstract composition of geometric shapes, larger than I normally work when playing the game each morning.  I thought this might work better than the over-sized keys.

Over-sized Keys on a Keyring

I’ll be painting beneath a mirror. The audience can watch as I work on a flat table.  The room is a large cafeteria.  I’m concerned that demonstrating my morning ritual of drawing in my sketchbook will be difficult to view because of the small size of the sketchbook.  However, by playing the game on a large piece of paper I would present the game as a way to create something to mat and hang on the wall rather than as an important and fun exercise to sharpen my skills and explore new territory without the pressure of making everything work.

There is one small shape in the geometric abstract that I washed out and repainted.

Detail of “Stranger in a Strange Land”

This resulted in a blue-green shape that clearly does not belong in the color scheme of the painting.  This is a perfect example of what can happen when painting a street scene en plein air ….. the light of the late afternoon sun is reflecting off the buildings, streets and trees …. a crowd of people are shopping at an outdoor market ….. a woman is wearing a beautiful, blue-green dress that the artist can’t resist painting into the scene ….. but the effect of the light is lost as the artist mixes a beautiful blue-green color based on what she thinks she sees instead of the color as it is affected by the sun and the late afternoon sky.

Abstract Painting: ( 14″ x 20″) drawn first in pencil followed by washes of watercolor using a limited palette of one red, one blue and one yellow.

Giant Keys: (14″ x 20″) drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watercolor using a limited palette of one red, one blue and one yellow.

The Color Scheme Game is not only for painters.  Philippa and Sarah are knitters.

Sarah and Philippa testing out the color scheme game

Understanding how colors work together is as essential for fiber artists as it is painters.  We’ve all seen less than beautiful sweaters and afghans.  We’ve also seen gorgeous sweaters, quilts, tapestries, etc.  Quality yarn, like quality paint, can be expensive.  By working out color schemes and value patterns in watercolor, the outcome has a better chance of falling into the category of being gorgeous.

The first stroke of paint

Keeping the paint moist


Off to a great start

How color changes the dynamics of a painting

The day ended too quickly.  I regret not taking a photo of Philippa’s drawing after she painted the cherries orange.  The orange against the turquoise background was stunning.

Sketchbook drawings: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by watercolor on BFK Rives paper.  Limited palette of three tubes of paint, one each of red, yellow and blue.  Sarah and Phil used different colors to compare the results of mixing them.  Philippa discovered that it is quite impossible to mix a violet with a phthalo blue and a cadmium red light.  Instead of a violet, red-violet or blue-violet the result is beautiful browns and grays, great for stones but not so great for bing cherries.  She opted to paint them orange instead.







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