On September 26th and 27th I’ll be teaching another Color Scheme Game/Color Value Workshops at RileyStreet Art Supply in Santa Rosa.  On September 28th and 29th I’ll teach Watercolor Techniques at the art story.  Online registration is open on my website: ChrisCarterArt.com.

Orbs No. 20 - Watercolor - 12" x 18"

Orbs No. 20 – Watercolor – 12″ x 18″

I’m looking forward to spending time with new students and traveling a bit with former students who will be sharing some of their favorite en plein air painting spots with me.  I’ll do my best to post a few of our color adventures while I’m away.

Image:  Orbs No. 20 , watercolor, 12″ x 18″, created using flea market trash as templates applying paint with a mouth atomizer.  Color Scheme: Extended Analogous.

An entire sketchbook might be filled with drawings of these marvelous, old inkwells. (Sorry, Nan!)

Old, glass inkwells

At the demonstration last Thursday evening a man asked me what my favorite color scheme is. When I threw the die for this drawing and it came up indicating an Analogous Color Scheme, I realized I definitely have preferences when it comes to color schemes.  I prefer analogous with split complements and triads.  I enjoy playing with pure colors that give me a wide range of values.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with unknown ink of a yellow-brown nature, followed by watercolor.  Colors of the limited palette are yellow-green, green, green-blue, and slightly grayed green-blue.  Red-violet would have been more fun as a shadow color.

Applying what I learn playing The Color Scheme Game to everything I paint is the purpose of playing the game.  Making a conscious decisions along the way is far easier when I have the experience of playing with color schemes as a foundation for my choices.

Deciding on the color of the shadows and cells

My first choice for the shadows was to give the sketch some punch by using a yellow-green.  The bleed of the Noodler’s Rome Burning ink already was giving a yellow glow to the paper.  I reminded myself of the original intent of the sketch.

This is part of the series of Family Treasures Drawings and Paintings.  In the box of treasures I saved from my father’s house are three doll shoes, one red, one white and one black.  Where are the mates?  Perhaps on a road somewhere.  Haven’t you wondered why you see so many single shoes on roads?  Or maybe they are hanging out with the lost socks that never make it back from the laundry.  This sketch is about the shoes, not about bright color interactions.  I wanted each shoe to maintain its significance.

I chose gray.  I can’t remember the last time I used gray as a shadow color!  I mixed the most beautiful gray I could, A warm gray for the heel and sole in shadow of the white shoe, and a cool gray for the shadows cast by the shoes.

Family Treasures No. 26, Doll Shoes, Red, White and Black

Drawn first with a Sheaffer Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s Rome burning Ink, followed by watercolor.

Analogous Color Scheme with Red as the dominant color.  All other colors are neutrals.

My black was created by mixing alizarin crimson, french ultramarine blue and a touch of yellow ochre.

Playing with shadow colors again.

Trumpet Parts No. 91, Color Scheme Game

My concentration was on the temperature of the colors, the value of the colors and the contrast of shapes.  Overhead lighting cast a strong shadow beneath the trumpet horn.  I opted to eliminate the minimal shadows cast by the dice and other trumpet parts, feeling they would create busy patterns out of nice, simple shapes.  My color scheme directive was Analogous with One Complement, Red  / Violet as Dominant color.  I opted to include the two cooler hues to the left of Red / Violet rather than work toward the warmer Red / Orange.

Trumpet Series Painting: drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor

After sifting through the photos I shot in Keyport yesterday, I forced myself to do a quick sketch from one of them.  I don’t enjoy working from photographs.  They don’t give me information regarding color, values or the energy of the places I’ve been.  Maybe I’m just a got-to-be-there snob.

Enjoying the afternoon at Keyport Harbor, NJ

What I decided is that I need to know what it is I want from my plein air paintings and why I am entering the weekend Plein Air Events in my area.  My intention was to visit the harbor prior to next weekend’s event in order to decide where I want to set up.  Driving home, I thought only of the people I met, not of the boats floating in the water or the landscape.

When I tossed the die to see what color scheme would be chosen for me, it came up Extended Analogous Color Scheme with Green as my dominant color.  That would have been fine if there hadn’t been people in the image.  The last thing I wanted to do was to have the people disappear into the shrubbery.  Sometimes rules work and sometimes they don’t.

My plan is to work from the photos all week. Hopefully, I’ll get over my aversion to them and have a better idea of where I want to be next weekend.  Only the paintings done during the weekend event may be entered in the event exhibition or competition (if there is one).

I look forward to seeing the two men on the bench, Joe, Don and Judy Pie (the tiny dog hidden under the bench) next weekend.  They told me they would save me a spot on the bench in case I want to sit down when I’m painting next weekend.  I just might take them up on their offer.

Drawing: Working from a photograph rather than life …. drawn first with fountain pen, followed by watercolor.

The subject of the painting can be chosen either before or after the dice are thrown. Yesterday afternoon I chose the subject based on the dominant color chosen by the twelve-sided die.

Rooting Oxalis, red-purple and yellow-green

I threw a two (Complementary Color Scheme) and an eight (Dominant Color = purple / red).  The rooting Oxalis in the kitchen window fit the bill.  I enjoyed both drawing and painting the Oxalis enough to chose it again for my morning subject.  This time I threw the dice after having chosen the Oxalis.

Rooting Oxalis, Analogous Colors

This time I threw a five (Analogous Color Scheme) and a two (Dominant color = Yellow Green)

I find it best to not look at the subject after the drawing stage is complete.  I move to my drafting table to apply the paint.  By not looking at the subject of the drawing, I am able to make decisions based on the value shapes and graphics of the painting rather than the reality that might not really work in my sketch.  This is especially helpful when the color scheme does not fit with the actual colors of my subject.

Sketchbook Drawings playing the Color Scheme Game: drawn first with fountain pen filled with black ink, followed by watercolor.


Top painting:  Limited palette of Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue and Cadmium Yellow Light

Bottom painting: Cadmium Yellow Light, New Gamboge, Cadmium Orange, Ultramarine Blue, Antwerp Blue and a touch of dioxazine purple to neutralize the yellow for the mason jar’s wire.

Very little time this morning for playing games.  Luckily, the toss of the dice gave me an easy color scheme in the real world.

Lily and Rose, Analogous Color Scheme

The analogous colors are green, yellow and orange.  Though the Valentine’s Day flowers are wilting, they worked well for this quick sketch before getting on with my busy day.  What is the orange shape in the bottom right corner?  It had to be there to balance the awkward comp0sition.  I would scratch my name into this mark if I wanted to sign the work.  I wanted to try anchoring the drawing on two, opposite sides.  I might have succeeded without the mark had I taken more time to compose the flowers and leaves a bit better.   Sketchbooks are great for this sort of experimentation.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with Waterman Phileas filled with black ink, followed by watercolor, limited palette.

While waiting for our salads to arrive, I quickly sketched Sue’s Special Coffee Drink, coffee, Tia Maria and whipped cream.

Sue's Special Coffee Drink

The dominant colors in this analogous color scheme are red, orange and yellow, all other colors are neutrals.  A touch of blue gives a bit of relief to the overall warm palette.

sketch: drawn first with fountain pen filled with a mix of red and black Noodler’s ink, followed by washes of watercolor added later …. the salads arrived before I could add color to the ink drawing.

A trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens provided a perfect opportunity to test my Peerless Watercolor Papers.

Typhonodorum Lindleyanum

It is difficult to say anything negative about these easily transportable watercolor papers. I am spoiled by the ease of flow and coverage I can achieve using tube watercolor pigments and find the lack of flow a bit frustrating.  The Peerless Papers require a different technique which I will explore over the next few months.  The Peerless colors are beautifully vibrant and well worth spending the time to learn how to manipulate them successfully.

The only place to sit was a low cement wall, four feet long, across from a giant Typhonodorum Lindleyanum.  The edges of the leaf were yellow, tinged with orange.  The color turned to green and ultimately to a dark blue-green as the leaf met the stem, a perfect analogous color scheme.

Sketch: drawn first with fountain pen followed by washes of Peerless Watercolor Papers using a Kuretake Water Brush.

One of my favorite paintings from this week’s Blues Jam…

Justine Gardner, Musician

Justine is a delight to paint whether she is on stage playing bass or sitting at a table sipping wine.

Nothing complex here.  The ink line is simple and direct.  The watercolor washes are simple and direct, an analogous color scheme at its most basic level, yellow, yellow/green, green/blue.

Drawn first with black ink using a dip pen, followed by strokes of watercolor