Granted, there is only one tiny piece of paper glued onto the watercolor paper, but….. that still makes it a collage.

Orbs No. 22, Watercolor & paper, 22" x 30"

Orbs No. 22, Watercolor and tiny piece of handmade red paper, 22″ x 30″

I’m not a purest when it comes to painting.  When the painting begins to take on a personality, I nurture that personality, mood, story, whatever it might be evolving into, with anything and everything I can to make it the most that it can be.  In this case, the painting needed a tiny rectangle of red paper (1″ x 1.5″).  The final touch was the dark orb next to the piece of red paper.  Before adding those two elements, the depth of the painting was remarkably shallow.  Those two elements, one because of the color contrast and the other because of the value contrast, created the illusion of extreme, infinite space.  It helped to view a black and white version of the painting as it neared completion.  I make a habit of viewing my paintings in black and white to avoid guessing at design problems that might be resolved with only one or two strokes.

I used a combination of brush, splatter, junk templates, mouth atomizer, saran wrap, collage, scrape and comb.

Orbs. No. 22 – Watercolor and paper, 22″ x 30″, to be included in the Healing Arts exhibit at Overlook Hospital in November.

Finally!  The downloadable, PDF Version of The Color Scheme Game is now available on my website!

Color Scheme Game Kit

Color Scheme Game Kit

Die and grayscale are not included.  Print on cardstock (available at office supply stores) and laminate with clear contact paper.  Color scheme templates and custom color wheel templates make learning about color, color schemes and mixing colors with a limited palette a breeze!

Visit my Website Store for details.  Website: ChrisCarterArt.com

Directions for playing both The Color Scheme Game and the Extended Color Scheme Game are included.

Contact me if you have any problems.

In the early 70’s I rented an apartment near Cleveland Circle in Boston.

Sliced-Apples-Artist-Trading-Cards-ink-Watercolor-chris-carter-artist-030613-sz-web

The kitchen was narrow with high ceilings. A large window allowed the morning sunlight to pour past the potted herbs onto the glass doors of the cupboards, the counters and the floor.  The night I painted the walls bright orange and the cupboards fire engine red, I dropped into bed with a migraine.  I thought it was from the colors I’d chosen in too small a room.  Most likely, it was from the fumes.

Next morning, I awoke to the most cheerful kitchen I’d ever experienced.  The following year, I moved to a studio/loft space where I repeated the red and orange interior decor wherever possible … the bathroom I constructed and the one wall that wasn’t brick.  The memories of those days flooded back to me while painting this morning’s drawing, a sketch of Mike’s kitchen in Mountain View last month.  I threw the die and came up with the color scheme Analogous with One Complement.  The dominant color was to be orange/yellow.  As I remembered the effect of the fire engine red paint, my orange/yellow counter top became more of a red/orange.

Artist Trading Card – Morning Sketch: Sliced Apple, drawn in ink with fountain pen, followed (weeks later) with watercolor.

While sipping my morning cup of coffee there is always time to do a quick color study of something simple.

Cotton Swabs

Cotton Swabs – Artist Trading Card

My bathroom provides a multitude of objects to use as shapes for an abstract design with which to play with color.  Cotton Swabs is a study in complementary colors,  a limited palette of Yellow and Violet.  The cotton swabs are the supporting actors in the design performance.  The shapes of the background and shadows are the lead actors.

Morning Sketch playing the Color Scheme Game:  Cotton Swabs – Ink and Watercolor – ACEO – Artist Trading Card

Color Scheme: Complementary

Dominant Color:  Yellow

Rose Madder is the only fragrant pigment I am aware of.  I couldn’t resist adding a bit of it to the Rose Geranium sketch I posted previously.

Three Stages of the Rose Geranium Study

I could have, and probably should have stopped after adding two spots of Rose Madder.  But ….. my mind kept wandering to that place of curiosity that so often gets me into trouble, while at the same time pushes me ahead.  I wanted to see what the Rose Geranium drawing would like like with a background of yellow/orange.

Memories of playful times in the 60’s and early 70’s flooded my thoughts …. skirts made from half a yard of Marimekko fabrics, kitchen walls painted bright orange with window trim in bright pink …. and brightly patterned BBQ shirts.  Now chefs wear pants made from similar fabrics that awaken the senses.

The study went from being focused on shapes and patterns to being focused simply on playful color … not necessarily a bad thing.

Rose Scented Geraniums with Rose Madder and Orange

On Tuesday I created my first six monoprints. They will, most definitely, not be my last.

Monoprint No. 6

With eight of us crammed around the table working from the same piles of black, white, magenta, cyan and yellow piles of ink, it was difficult to be fussy about choosing and mixing colors.  My first five prints taught me a great deal and pleased me only minimally.  I wanted my last one to have a bit of dynamic movement and for that, I needed to have color contrast.  My favorite, foolproof color contrast (also a powerful value contrast duo) is yellow and purple.

For this print I ripped two squares of newsprint paper and two irregular smaller shapes of paper.  I inked all four and placed them on the plexi plate on top of the two ghost images from the previous two prints.  The clarity of the fibers along the torn edges of the squares is incredible!  I would have loved to make one more, using the ghost images of the squares….. but time ran out.

Though neither turquoise nor hot pink have ever been favorite colors of mine, they often find their way into my paintings.  During my twenties and thirties I resented their persistence and worked hard at keeping them from intruding.

Nicole’s Creature, a somewhat recent gift, made specifically for me.

I no longer resist.  The two colors, especially together, bring life, energy and joy into my paintings and I welcome them.

As I look back through the daily drawings of the past six months since I’ve returned to painting full-time, I see more inclinations from my youth having worked their way back into my art.  I’m grateful that those early seeds of inspiration and expression did not give up on me.  Instead, they waited patiently in a state of dormancy until I was ready to acknowledge and nurture their potential value.

Sketchbook drawing: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor.  Rives BFK paper.

Regardless of media or subject, it all boils down to the values of the shapes working well together …. or not.  I can accept less than gorgeous colors in a painting of resolved values and shapes more than I can accept gorgeous colors in a painting that is visually abrasive because of it’s unresolved interplay of shapes.

Black and White Comparisons at various stages

I painted an 18″ x 24″ en plein air watercolor, thrilled with working larger.  It’s difficult to swing my arm, use larger brushes and splatter color here and there when I am working small.  Wanting to stay loose, I began without any drawing to guide me.  It would have been fine if I hadn’t included the wooden structure…. but then it wouldn’t have been a painting of the gateway to our Secret Garden.  The splattering began as a way to camouflage the errors in the structure.  The next problem was the composition of light and dark shapes.  I wanted the light to show through the structure, connecting the sky with the foreground.  I also loved the light shape of the tree against the dark shape of the tree just to the right of the structure.  Unfortunately, those two shapes were too close in size and shape.  One of them had to go, for the sake of the painting.

Final resolution

I am pleased with the results.  This is a great size for me. Next time I’ll try to resolve the value shapes before I start playing with paint.  Then I’ll be free to dive into gorgeous color interactions.  In this painting, the neutralized reds added life to the green masses.

Detail of Secret Garden

Trumpet Parts No. 77 was painted on the inside cover of my large, leather-bound sketchbook.  Each time I opened the sketchbook, I was forced to see this sketch that gave me a queasy feeling in my stomach.

Original Version of Trumpet Parts No. 77

I either had to glue something over it or change it.  I opted to try a few changes before gluing old, torn dictionary pages to cover it up.  I don’t often such a negative response to my sketches.  I either like them or I don’t like them.  Rarely do they make me physically ill.

Trumpet Parts No. 77 revisited

I made one change, then another and another and another.  It turns out that the blue didn’t work for me at all.  A bit surprising since the blue/violet shapes had been my favorite.  Though I still don’t like the sketch very much, it no longer makes me sick.

Color is quite powerful!  Color combinations are even more powerful!

Sketchbook painting: ink and watercolor

P.S. Sorry Nan!

Black ink is great for the initial, dip pen drawing while painting during musical performances.  The black lines bring the color to life.  Colored inks, on the other hand, become part of the color scheme, bleeding into the watercolor and often separating into the various colored pigments that they are made from.  Below are examples of the watercolor bringing out the red in Waterman Havana Brown Ink.

Jeffrey Hills playing Tuba (Sousaphone), SteelStacks Cabaret, Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Ernie Elly on Drums, Preservation Hall Jazz Band

The Havana Brown is beautiful on its own, too.

Frederick Lonzo, Mark Braud, Charlie Gabriel
Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Another example of the ink bleed into the yellows, blues and purples.

Sketches:  Drawn first with dip pen using Waterman Havana Brown Ink, followed by watercolor