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This week’s challenge is to show a picture of one of my resolutions for the coming year. I have pondered how to do this and was stumped until I walked into my studio and saw this scene:
I have registered for a class with a new teacher and was taking inventory of my paints prior to ordering the supplies on the class list. My RESOLVE is to get more paint out of the tubes and onto the paper this year!
I agreed to teach a couple of friends about watercolor basics, so I am reviewing the lessons that I found most valuable when I started painting. One of those was the making of a color chart, and since some of the pigments that I use have changed over the years, I decided to make a new one, and in the process, I’m learning things I missed the first time around!
Most of us learned as children that red and yellow mixed together make orange, yellow and blue make green, and red and blue make purple. And if we had perfect pigments, we could mix all the colors using the primaries of red, blue, and yellow. However, our pigments are not perfect, so the mixtures don’t make true secondary colors (orange, green, and purple).
One solution to this dilemma for the artist is to use two of each primary color, one tending toward “warm” and one tending toward “cool.” In the color wheel above, all of the colors in circles are pigments as they come from the manufacturer. There is nothing I can add to these pigments to make them brighter, truer colors. The rectangles are mixtures of two primaries. As soon as I start mixing two pigments together, the color starts to lose its brightness. None of the mixtures is as bright and true as the manufacturer’s secondary color (in circles outside the large circle). However, as you can see above, I get a truer orange when I mix a warm red with a warm yellow than when I mix a cool red with a cool yellow. A cool red and a cool blue make a truer purple than warm red and warm blue. And a warm blue and a cool yellow make a truer green.
So why is it we mix a warm and a cool for the green? I thought I was getting this – mixing warm colors with warm colors and cool colors with cool colors. Not so.
It has to do with complementary colors, those colors directly opposite one another on the wheel, i.e. red – green, blue – orange, and purple – yellow. When complementary colors are mixed together, they neutralize one another, making beautiful grays and taupes.
The warm yellow leans toward red, the complement of green, so it will yield a duller mixture than the cool yellow. Likewise, the cool blue tends toward red, yielding duller mixtures. So for a bright green, mix together a cool yellow and a warm blue.
Knowing how to mix bright colors and dull colors is useful for the artist, as a dull color surrounding a bright color will make it appear even brighter. Dull colors are more restful and convey a different mood than bright colors.
For an example of this, see Window in Assisi. I wanted to draw your eyes to the flowers on the windowsill, so I used bright colors there. The stones in the wall, although colorful, are duller colors, so they don’t attract as much attention.
Has this been interesting or useful to you? Do you prefer bright colors or duller colors?
We were visiting my daughter over the weekend and missed the big storm that hit our area on Friday night, knocking out the power to thousands of households. The power is back on in all of our little town, for which we are thankful, because the weather is still very hot and humid, which led me to today’s subject – a nice cold glass of lemonade!
“It takes 120 bad paintings to know something about painting.” - Larry Seiler as quoted by Jeff Mahorney in his blog
Each painting is small in format and should be completed in about an hour or less.
My goals are to improve my technique, to paint faster, and to gain experience with a variety of subjects.
In response to this week’s challenge, I painted the tools that I use to create watercolor paintings: my palette with paints in the wells and some puddles on the mixing surface, brushes, a roll of paper towels, a small spray bottle for wetting the paints, and two containers of water. One container is used for rinsing brushes and the other is clean water for mixing with paints.
And I have to admit that my palette isn’t usually this clean. The paints don’t stay in the wells and I don’t always rinse my brush before mixing a color, which results in dirty spots, especially in the yellows.
Summer is when we spend a lot of time on our boat, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.
Summer is when the crabs have grown big enough and numerous enough that crabbers lay down a line baited every couple of feet. They have a buoy at each end and traverse the line, pulling it over a large hook on the side of the boat and scooping up the crabs in a long-handled net as the crabs rise with the bait, refusing to let go until the last minute. Sometimes the bait is chicken necks, giving this type of crabber the nickname of “chicken-necker,” regardless of whether chicken or shellfish is used for bait. Back and forth along this same line they go, all morning long. If the chicken-neckers are weekend crabbers, they are often excited when scooping up the larger crabs and exclaim loudly to their partner who is driving the boat, “Wow! That’s a big ‘un!” and “Oooh! Look at this one!” I suppose when one has gotten up early and been on the water for an hour, 5:30 a.m. must not seem too early to be loud, despite all the cruising boats nearby with occupants still trying to sleep. (Can you discern our location from these comments?)
This watercolor, painted on canvas, captures the repetitive moves of a professional crabber as he drives his boat back and forth along his baited line. This is a classic crabbing boat, and they usually bear a woman’s name, e.g. Emily, Nora, or Sara Mae. The name, Crabbin’ Cruiser, is a boat name we saw on a smaller open boat with weekend crabbers aboard, but I liked the pun and couldn’t resist using it as the title for this picture.
Is it possible, using watercolor, to paint a visual image that invokes in the viewer the sensation of an auditory event? Can one paint music?
This was the challenge for me as I contemplated my entry for the show (and free recital) tomorrow afternoon at Providence Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, Virginia, whose theme is “Painting the Music.”
I decided to use a book format, since like a piece of music, a book has a beginning and an end. However, this book is all pictures, and I used a “pop-up” format to give more of the impression of motion and the explosion of sound.
The book opens and closes on the diagonal, has three main painted panels, painted on the front and the back, has a ribbon tie to hold it shut, and decorative tassels. The covers are made from foam core board covered with a sequined material.
Update: This entry won best in show! The judges liked the unusual format and that the work tells a story.
In this watercolor painting for the challenge “Two Subjects,” I have horses and snow.
As a general rule, having two (unrelated) subjects in a painting is like having two stars in a play; they tend to compete with each other for top billing. When deciding what to paint, I usually decide who (or what) is going to be the star and make the other images co-stars, or less emphatic. Then all the elements tend to “play well together.”
In this typical European scene, captured in a watercolor painting, a woman makes her daily journey from the market to her home in time to cook lunch for the family. Because many of the old towns are situated on hills, vehicle traffic is often limited. Kitchens (and refrigerators) are small, so many people go to market each day, walking up and down the stairs and walkways that their parents and grandparents have walked before them.
This watercolor sketch is the only work I got done last week. I made another trip to help my daughter with her children since they all came down with the nasty virus. It was much more serious for the children, giving the 16-month old bronchitis and resulting in hospitalization for the 6 week old. Everyone is much better now.
But while I was there, I snatched a few minutes here and there to capture the morning’s activity… and then finished the sketch after I got home!