Yesterday I had visitors, and while their mother and grandfather worked on their violin/guitar duo, we went into my studio. Having my grandchildren in my studio is a special time for me. At ages three and four, they still wonder uncritically at their ability to make marks on paper, and enjoy the fluidity of colors coming off a brush.
After enjoying the colors separately, this little one decided to try dipping the brush into successive colors, going all the way around the box of paint pans. “Hmmm. . . Brown!” She rinsed the brush and picked up all the colors in a different order – still brown! (Rinse, repeat. Rinse repeat, with glee.)
Many adult watercolor painters spend a lot of time learning this same lesson: too many colors mixed together make “mud brown,” however their discovery is not usually accompanied by the same degree of satisfaction as this little imp felt.
One of my adult students is painting a series of paintings using a pineapple as a motif. I did a quick demonstration painting to show that there are ways to approach the subject that break away from the actual image in front of her.
I used three pigments (new gamboge, quinacridone magenta, and cobalt blue) mixed on the paper, a recognizable silhouette and some layering of color for value changes to get this colorful pineapple. It’s not my usual style, but much like my granddaughters, I enjoyed putting sweeps of color on the page and watching the colors blend where they touched each other (without making mud brown).