Watercolour

Exploring Colour

Paint Your Dreams - NB
Paint Your Dreams

My earliest childhood memories of playing with colours was with Carolyn sitting at our kitchen table, probably around 1970 give or take a bit (I’m showing my age!!). We would have our paints and colouring books out and we were very happy. Our paintboxes were very basic – we had a red, a blue, a yellow and a green! And when our paintboxes got a bit posher we also had a white and a black!! So if we wanted an orange, a purple or a brown we had to mix it! We didn’t worry about getting it wrong or making a mess – it was fun, we loved it. Little did we know that such innocent childhood fun would set us up for artistic adventures later in life…

Paintbox Colours - NB
The only colours Carolyn & I had in our childhood paintboxes ~ a red, a yellow a blue & a green…

Why am I mentioning this? Well, in this post I’m, in effect, going back to my childhood days and I’m starting off with just the basics – a red, a yellow and a blue. And with just those colours to hand I’m going start exploring… and I’m not going to worry about getting it wrong or making a mess… and it’s going to be fun

DS Primary Colours - NB

These are my starting colours – the Daniel Smith Primary Colour Set. One red, one yellow and one blue. No more. The primary colours. So with paints, palette, paper, water and brush in front of me I’m ready to have some fun mixing colour…

DS Primary Colour Char - NB
Mixing Daniel Smith Primary Colours

This is the result of a fun evening playing with Daniel Smith primary colours. At the very top of the chart you will see the primary colours on their own ~ all individually gorgeous colours in their own right. At the bottom of the chart you will notice a black colour – this was created by mixing small amounts of each undiluted colour together in my palette. Not all combinations of red, yellow and blue will reach black. But these did, although it did take me 3 attempts to get the ratio of pigments right! Now all the squares in between – 48 of them in total – are all the different colours I created by just mixing together different amounts of the three primary colours. Please view the chart larger by clicking on it as you will get a more detailed view of the lovely colours. So in total on this sheet of paper (19.5 cm x 28 cm) there are 52 colours! I could have created more but I ran out of space…

Now, why don’t I try some different reds, yellows and blues?

Triangular Colour Wheel 1 - NB
Triangular Colour Wheel 1 ~ Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow & Prussian Blue

In my triangular colour wheel above I’ve used Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Prussian Blue. Notice that the Cadmium Red when mixed with a little Prussian Blue makes a rich brown colour and adding more Prussian Blue to the mix makes black – no purple… !

Triangular Colour Wheel 2 - NB
Triangular Colour Wheel 2 ~ Permanent Rose, Cerulean Blue & Naples Yellow

In this triangular colour wheel I’ve used Permanent Rose, Naples Yellow and Cerulean Blue. Notice how adding just a little Permanent Rose to the Cerulean Blue makes a gorgeous dark lavender blue.  And Cerulean Blue mixed with a little Naples Yellow makes a lovely pale turquoise and adding more Naples Yellow makes a lovely soft sage green.

These are just two examples but the different combinations of red, yellow and blue you could mix are almost endless. I will continue my colour exploration in another post. There’s a huge exciting world of colour out there to explore and this is only the beginning… !

Watercolour

Party Time!

Party Time - NB
Party Time

This was a lighthearted, fun start to my watercolour painting yesterday. These balloons were the easiest thing in the world to paint and put a smile on my face. It was a great warm up exercise for further painting projects I did afterwards. The highlights on the balloons were created by wax resist using a white wax crayon – the cheap sort you buy your kids – just simple colourful FUN…

REFLECTING

I’ve been learning watercolour painting for just over a year now. Sometimes I don’t have as much time for it as I would like, but that’s life. I decided I would spend just a minute or two reflecting on some of the things I’ve learnt…

When I started just over a year ago I had ZERO knowledge or experience of watercolour painting. Never done it before in my life ever – I knew NOTHING! I read all the advice about what you need to start off with (from lots of different sources), Some of it I listened to and some I didn’t. But here’s a few things I’ve learnt from personal experience:

PAPER: 100% cotton watercolour paper is the best paper to paint on. Cheap paper just doesn’t give the same results – I’ve bought several different types of cheap watercolour paper and regretted buying all of them. I’ve seen how much better my painting looks on good quality cotton paper. My personal favourite so far is Arches, followed by Fabriano Artistico. I will keep experimenting with different papers but no more cheap stuff… !

PAINT: Painting with artist quality paint, rather than student quality, generally produces better paintings I’ve found, probably because the colours are much more rich and vibrant with artist quality paints. There are many watercolour paint brands I’ve not yet tried but I do know I am totally hooked on Daniel Smith watercolour paints – the quality is superb and the colours are to die for…

BRUSHES: I’ve learnt – the hard way – that watercolour brushes with natural hair (ie. sable, squirrel etc.) are better to paint with because they hold more pigment and water. I do use synthetic brushes occasionally, they have their uses, but nowhere near as much as my sable and squirrel brushes. One of my most favourite brushes is a Silver Black Velvet size 10 Round brush. This is actually a squirrel and synthetic mix brush and is lovely to use – holds loads of pigment/water and has a very nice point. I will buy more of these brushes.

Also I don’t stretch paper, I’ve never got to grips with it – maybe it’s just me… ! I buy much of my watercolour materials from Jackson’s, a UK art supply shop and they ship internationally. This may be worth checking out if you live in one of those countries where Arches paper has become extremely expensive to buy in local art shops.

This is just a little of what I’ve learnt on my watercolour journey so far and some of my personal preferences. I’m sure others have very different preferences. I hope you might find this information useful – especially those of you who maybe be considering venturing into the wonderful world of watercolour…

Watercolour

Rambling Rose II

Rambling Rose 2 - NB
Rambling Rose II ~ WIP

This is the second painting in my rambling rose series (the first was in my previous post). I may work on this painting some more, so I guess it’s a “work in progress” but at the moment I’m enjoying it as it is…

I used the same colours as the first one – Permanent Rose and Naples Yellow. This painting measures approx. 8″ x 6.5″ and was painted on Khadi paper. And this one too looks better when viewed from  a distance – you get the “rose effect” better. It was painted loose, wet in wet and I’ve just let the watercolour paint do what it naturally likes to do – working with it, not against it…

In the summer of 2016 I planted a lovely pale pink climbing rose in my garden. This spring it has doubled in size and, although it is only early may, it has buds forming on it already! This summer I want to paint these gorgeous roses from my garden. So I’m going to take lots of photos of them and also I will cut some and bring them indoors to paint. On a nice summers day I may even do some plein air rose painting in the garden…

BACK TO BASICS

I also spent some time recently getting back to watercolour basics – basic colour mixing and practicing brush control…

Mixing Primary Colours - NB
Mixing Primary Colours

This is a very basic colour mixing exercise. I  picked one of each of the primary colours ~ I chose to use Cadmium Red, Quinacridone Gold and Indanthrene Blue (in the top line of the chart from the left). All of them are quite strong primary colours. I then randomly mixed them together using varying quantities of pigment and water. These are just a sampling of the colours I could produce. This chart measures 5.5″ x 7.5″, but if I’d used a much larger piece of paper I could have easily quadrupled the number of different colours created. This is a fun way of learning about colour – how they mix, what different colous and shades you can produce. And it illustrates that you don’t need to buy lots of different colours, when you are just starting out with watercolour – just a few will do…

Next a fun brush control exercise:

Leaves - Brush Control - NB
Leaves in Earth Colours

I used a whole range of different earth colours for the exercise above. But it’s not about the colours, it’s about brush control. I used just one brush – a Jacksons Icon Quill size3/0. It’s a lovely brush, it holds lots of water and pigment and has a superb point.  The purpose of the exercise above was to practice working from the tip of the brush to the body and then back again to the tip again. I enjoyed painting my leaves. More brush control exercises will be on the agenda in the future…