While preparing for the recent watercolor demonstrations I’ve been doing, I cut open the tube of Cadmium Red Deep that I never use.  I don’t use it because I think it is as ugly as Cadmium Red Light is beautiful.  After making the Color Scheme Game color wheel using Cad Red Deep as my primary red, I discovered the potential of beauty within that color I deemed as ugly.

No. 1 - Artist Trading Card - Watercolor

No. 1  – Watercolor – 2.5″ x 3.5″

This limited palette of raw sienna, cadmium red deep and ultramarine blue produces lovely neutrals.  The watercolor demos are over for the next two months, but I continue to use this odd palette.  In fact, I have replaced a dozen of the paintings I originally planned to hang in the upcoming solo exhibit at Connexions Gallery with new paintings created with this palette.  I can’t help but be reminded of the story The Ugly Duckling.

Raw Sienna, Cadmium Red Deep and Ultramarine Blue

Raw Sienna, Cadmium Red Deep and Ultramarine Blue

I’m coming up for air….. just for a moment….

Hat City Kitchen ... Listening to the Blues

Hat City Kitchen … Listening to the Blues

I’ve been happily lost in the world of live music, art exhibits, travel adventures and learning how to make my own online tutorials.

The Bad Hands - 4th Annual Blues Bash

The Bad Hands – 4th Annual Blues Bash

To top it off, it’s getting warmer and I’ll be back to drawing in my garden within weeks!

Happy Spring!

Paintings: drawn first in ink with dip pen followed by watercolor, painted during live performances.

Video: demonstration of creating a color wheel for the color scheme game using raw sienna, cadmium red deep and ultramarine blue as my primaries.

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!

It never ends.  There is always one more handy tool to make and one more useful template to include in the Color Scheme Game Workshop Kit.

Wine Corks and Push Pins

A wine cork cut into three sections and a push pin work beautifully to attach one of the color scheme templates to the standard or custom color wheels.  The plexi-grid with contact paper to keep the lines from rubbing off works for both the half-sheet and quarter-sheet BFK Rives paper that I’ll be using for demonstrations.  When I work in my sketchbook, guides are totally unnecessary.  When working so much larger, the grids will help me to place the objects.  When drawing with a fountain pen in front of an audience I like to minimize disasters.  Chances are I won’t use the guides anyway, but I’ll feel better knowing I have them.

Marking brushes with enamel paint

It’s always a good idea to mark the brushes I bring to a workshop.  Now the ends of the brushes match the porch door.

Plenty of twelve-sided dice

Eventually these brightly colored, twelve-sided dice will be scattered about the country.  I like to think of my fellow artists tumbling out of bed, grabbing a sketchbook, pouring a cup of coffee, throwing the die, pen or brush in hand … and falling in love again with both drawing and playing with color.  What a great way to start the day.

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.

Instinctively, I avoided using both red and blue in today’s morning sketch of my mother’s tin of wooden thread spools.  This proves to be an excellent example of the Foolproof Color Scheme I was introduced to in Jane R. Hofstetter’s book 7 Keys to Great Paintings.  This remains one of my favorite books to keep me on a path towards better paintings.

Family Treasures No. 16

The inspiration is my mother’s green tin filled with wooden spools of thread.  I found it when clearing out my father’s house last October.  For as long as I can remember, thread was kept in this tin, in spite of several other sewing baskets my mother acquired over the years.  I recall that it was “much handier than a sewing basket” for keeping track of her collection of thread for mending.  The bright stripes are a variation on the bright colored placemats I bought in Avignon several years ago.

I think this is the first time I have drawn objects in one cell overlaying another cell.  I often allow objects to work their way across the edge of the cell into the non-cell background.  After a recent dialogue with DB regarding the disparity of scale on road maps when details of cities are shown, I decided to see how she feels about the presence of two different scales appearing in the space of one cell.  Maybe I’ll play with overlaps in a Venn Diagram mode. Hmmmmmm.

detail of ink and watercolor painting. Family Treasures No. 16 Green Tin of wooden spools of sewing threads

Painting: drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor.  Arches Watercolor Paper

Color Scheme:  Foolproof…. Five analogous colors, skip one on each end and include the last three analogous colors on a twelve hue color wheel.

This weekend I revised The Color Scheme Game to include two, extremely useful, color schemes.

Trumpet Parts No. 88

The new color schemes and the number they relate to on the dice are now listed on The Color Scheme Game page.  New cards have been printed and are available on Etsy.  Workshop palettes are in transit, color wheel templates are completed and brushes are on order.  Everything is ready for stress-free, fun workshops to begin.  Please contact me if you are interested in hosting either a demonstration, workshop or an Art Party.

Scheduled Color Scheme Game Events:

September 6, 2012:  Roxbury Art Association, New Jersey.  Demonstration.  www.ArtAssociationInRoxbury.org

September 12, 2012:  The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster, New Jersey – Half Day Color Scheme Game Workshop, 10 am – 2 pm.  wwwccabedminster.org

March 10, 2013:  Essex Watercolor Club, New Jersey. Demonstration. www.ewcclub.com

Almost all of the paintings in the Trumpet Parts Series have been closed-form, closed-value paintings.

Trumpet Parts No. 95

The colors and values are limited by the boundaries of their shapes, creating paintings more decorative than realistic.  I found it easier to experiment with the color schemes by first creating an ink drawing of closed shapes, then painting the shapes with flat washes of full-saturation color based on a twelve hue color wheel.

With only five more paintings to go in this series, I am already turning my attention to the next series for my morning, wake-up paintings, Family Treasures. My goal will be to include open-form, open-value paintings that include a broader expression of the color scheme by including more neutral color mixes and saturation levels.

Sketchbook painting: drawn first with fountain pen, followed by watercolor.

Adjacent Double Near Complements may not be an official Color Scheme but it is one I find I intuitively use quite often.  I generally choose either the warm half of the color wheel (skipping the center two hues) or the cool half of the color wheel (skipping the center two hues).  It works well with the in-between colors as well.  Pick any two adjacent two colors, skip the next two colors in either direction and use the next two colors.  It’s simple and it is beautiful.

Harp Player and Sean Daly, The Grisly Pear

This painting, created during the January 30, 2012 Blues Jam at The Grisly Pear in the West Village, illustrates the ADNC color scheme.  (Violet, Red Violet, Orange Yellow and Yellow.

Drawn first with dip pen and black ink, followed by watercolor.

This is the season for mixing greens if you are a plein air landscape painter.  A little time making quick color wheels can save hours of time in the field as well as a great deal of heartache when the greens on your paper or canvas don’t work well together.

Comparing greens resulting from two different blues

The little color wheels using only three pigments each are valuable tools, saving far more than the fifteen minutes it takes to make each one.  The two wheels illustrated here were painted with only one variation…. the blue.  Both wheels show Winsor Newton – New Gamboge as the yellow and  Winsor Newton – Permanent Carmine as the red.  The wheel on the left shows American Journey – Joe’s Blue (Phthalo) as the blue.  The wheel on the right shows Grumbacher – Ultramarine Blue as the blue.  Obviously the orange mixes are the same.  Notice that the purple mixes are fairly close.  The green mixes, however, are strikingly different.  Hopefully your monitor shows this difference.

When the wheels are placed atop one another, showing the greens of the two wheels next to one another as they might appear if you mixed them and used them in your painting, you will see that they don’t work well together at all.  Why? because they describe a different kind of light illumination on a landscape, perhaps a different weather condition or a different global location. I feel safe to say that it would be close to impossible to make them work well together in a painting.

One of the reasons many painters add a green to their palette (such as Viridian or Hookers) is to resolve this conflict of greens mixed with different blues.  By adding a pigment that falls between the yellow and the blue, the temperature of your yellow plus blue mixes can be altered without turning to mud.  Once again …. charts should be made so you know what works well together for you.

The color wheels are created using watercolor.  Oil and acrylics will mix giving similar results, but I recommend making comparison color wheels in those mediums, too, in addition to the quick watercolor wheels.