Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dark Edges

This week's final exercise involves dipping the brush tip in a second darker color. Payne's Gray is suggested. The idea is to create three dimensionality with shadowing, all in one stroke. I quickly found this to be harder that expected. Getting two paints to proper levels, picking up just the right amount of Payne's Gray, and gaining the intuition to know just how long that gray holds up--well, practice is needed! :-)

This week's exercises proved to be more interesting and challenging than expected.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lifting Areas of Pigment

This week's third exercise is about lifting areas of still damp pigment. The recommended practice is to use a cloth or tissue. Tissue worked fairly well, but as I was working with small areas to start with, there just wasn't much room to move about. Cotton swabs (Q-Tips) proved effective for those small spaces!

This seems like an easy way to add a little bit of depth.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lifting Veins

After dry brushing we are asked to experiment with lifting veins. In this case, we are to apply clean water to lift and separate the pigment. I've done a bit of this where after applying water, one gets in with a tissue and mops it all up. See, in that case one picks up the pigment. Here the pigment remains, pushed to the sides.

It helps a good deal to catch the paper at just the right state of dampness. Too wet and the veins spread, too dry and one must work repeatably and only gain a lesser effect.

I think what I most liked was the effect created with parallel veining. I think it will well simulate the monocots like the grasses and those lilies that are challenging me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lily Color and Dry Brushing

A bit of dry brushing and experimenting with color mixing. I planned on more today but was thrown off when I discovered a yellow daylily was already in blossom!
So where to begin? Color study? Petal texture? Why not both? I worked with Winsor Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Thalo Blue BS, Thalo Green YS, and Cerulean Blue.

At this point, the yellow seems to base fairly well with Winsor Yellow with just a bit of Cadmium Yellow Pale. For green, the Thalo Green as a wash seems okay.

I tried some shadowing with Neutral Tint but ended up with Payne's Gray which leans a bit into blue.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dry Brush

I did get in a bit of dry brush last evening and more this evening.

But before we get to the results, I must tell you about a recent and exciting development. One of my fellow students digs her very own earth colors from the Appalachia region of North Carolina. We have exchanged a number of messages on the topic with her providing pictures and ending with an offer to send me some of her earth pigments! I'd been thinking about trying my hand at mulling my own watercolors from a Natural Pigments kit and now it's going to happen. There will be a bit of delay as she sends up the earths, the kit comes back into stock, and the course wraps up. So, an apres course activity is set. I've actually another activity lined up; more on that later...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Week 3

Week 3 has arrived!

Other Helpful Watercolor Techniques: continuing to become confident with brush, paint and water.

This week we are asked to peruse the web for watercolor techniques and societies. This is so already done for me!

Brush work begins with dry brush technique. We have a little video to get us started but this is of course a matter of feel and experience. Fanning the brush is mentioned.

Next up are lifting exercises, running a brush with clear water over a damp painted area to part and lift the pigment.

And then an exercise in using absorbent material to soften edges or lighten strongly painted areas in still wet paint.

And lastly, what I think will be my favorite, is dipping the brush tip in a darker color to apply a wide range with a single brush stroke. This reminds me of instructions from when I dabbled in Chinese painting. (That's a whole other story... Yep, I have brushes and inks and papers and DVDs, oh my!)

Weekly Journal. This week's topic:

Reach deep into description and experience in discussing a favorite painting.

Student Open Forum. This week's topic:

Share our web discoveries from the above assignment.

Okay, that's this coming week. This is third and final preparatory week. Next week we begin full paintings using all our acquired skills. This week looks like a lot of fun for me and I could use an easy week. Allergies (no it's not my age, no it's not my age, no...) have been slowing me down lately but I have crawled into work.

But enough of that. There is a new project afoot! More on that very soon... :-)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Week 2 Journal

Here are the guidelines for this week's journal:

Are you too hard on yourself? I am surprised that I often hear from so many students that they work very hard at not being too critical of themselves as they undertook a new course, challenge, or project, such as watercolor.

The creative process can slow us down, quiet that noisy, self-critical voice, and allow for moments in which we're not planning ahead to the next hour, day, week, event. Check yourself: are you taking this one step at a time, or are you expecting much more achievement than is realistic? Is it relaxing, or stressful?

And my submission:

I don't feel that I am too hard on myself, although I think others see me that way. I do feel highly motivated to reach for quality. I can recognize that I am a beginner and see some of my work as a real mess but I do manage to pull off some pieces that I really like. It is all experimention and learning at this point. Maybe that is how it will always be?

I had a plan to pursue painting when I retire—a moving target somewhere between one to four years. When I questioned why I should wait and instead build a foundation, I overcame inertia and now work every day at something or other. That I post a blog article daily, meaning that I must have material, helps to keep me producing. The wonderful comments I receive from readers nurture my confidence and creativity.

Sometimes I can feel content and settle into my work, time disappearing. Otherimes I am in a rush and knock something out for a blog post. Regardless, my daily commitment to produce is probably a very good way to proceed. It's that coming back to it time and again that has subtlely made art work an integral part of my life.

In the big picture, I am now so pleased. You see, I did spend a few years collecting books and supplies but spending very little time doing. Tons of research, yes. Doing? Nope. Now, with joy and confidence, I have lifted off. I think for me it comes down to having the faith that daily practice and learning will bring me along.

Leaf Shape Washes

Marcia asked that I try more washes with shapes other than boxes and try washing from very light to strong color. So here's a real mix with some outside the box play time as well.

That funky looking viridian maple? A mistake by waiting too long to come around the leaf let the wash dry enough that the second pass didn't blend. Rather than try to let subsequent washes cover it up, I decided to leverage the mistake and push it through.

Drying time is seriously affected when the air conditioner's running--low humidity sucks the moisture off the paper with a vengeance.

And that's it for wash week. I have a journal entry to knock out and then it's time to plow into Week 3.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wash Sticks

Here are a few vertical washes, some experiments with multiple grading. Work has lately been draining and I just couldn't push a lot of effort in tonight, but this evening I did upload a bunch of washes to Cornell. I may send in a few more but there's probably more than enough already. In that case, I can wrap up this week's work with a journal submission.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Graded Washes

This evening I pushed the graded washes a bit with some wet in wet work as well as dry overlays, especially with yellow ochre. The dark brown is the Rublev Umber. Green is Viridian and the light red is Permanent Rose.

I like this long horizontal. Perhaps I should try a vertical format as well...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Wash Experiment

Ah... something other than a square. Finally...

Within our wash exercises we are to also apply washes to leaf and other shapes. Here I tried to work in various wash methods. More of these to come later this week.

A few more blocks here. One must be very careful about dropping water. In the middle block a large splat must have been busy at its work for some time before I noticed and drew off the puddle.

Happy Solstice! :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Wash

Here's a bit more wash work. A real mix--flat, graded, blended, and a bit of overlay with yellow ochre. There seems to be a real art to getting the wash just right, not too wet, not too dry. Light colors smooth out easier, leaving very little streaking. The darker colors, ah, they need more practice.

There's a bit of an oops here... Forgot to spin the scan ninety degrees counter-clockwise.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wash Experiment

I've been practicing washes and ended up with all kinds of overlays, essentially overworking my washes. No worries as I think the washes were coming out fairly well. I'll get back to some of them for course upload tonight or tomorrow.

I clipped a lily leaf just to get the feel as I might try, timing permitting, to paint a yellow Day Lily. The fine parallel veining was beyond my brush skills so I lined with a Gillott 290 nib and straightedge, and then applied various washes.

Later this evening, I spent some time with various washes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Week 2

This is wash week!

We are provided with a video instruction of wash techniques and advised to check the web for more examples. Reference is also made to Coral Guest's Painting In Watercolour.

Four types of washes are introduced:
  • Flat - a single color evenly applied with a constant value.
  • Graded - a single color applied with a graduated value.
  • Blended - one color blended into another color and applied with a constant value
  • Overlaid - a single color evenly applied with a constant value over any kind of wash. Be sure the wash is dry before overlaying.
We are encouraged to be brave about mixing plenty of wash and in doing so to create vibrant color. We are cautioned about overworking.

Weekly Journal. This week's topic:

Are you too hard on yourself? I am surprised that I often hear from so many students that they work very hard at not being too critical of themselves as they undertook a new course, challenge, or project, such as watercolor.

The creative process can slow us down, quiet that noisy, self-critical voice, and allow for moments in which we're not planning ahead to the next hour, day, week, event. Check yourself: are you taking this one step at a time, or are you expecting much more achievement than is realistic? Is it relaxing, or stressful?

Student Open Forum. This week's topic:

Have you found a watercolor that was really inspiring to you? Is there an artist that you admire? Please use this week's forum to share some examples of work that you very much appreciate, and tell us a little bit about why they are compelling to you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Week 1 Journal

Each week, students submit a personal journal on the week's assignments and suggestions from the instructor. Here's this week's guidance:

One of the exciting elements of painting is choosing a subject. This week, if you have not yet had the opportunity, then please spend some time considering and gathering objects as subjects for your painting.

In the process, have you found any treasures? You may reflect here about any element of the creative process to date, how your familiarity with the tools is progressing, and any concerns you have about Moodle or any other aspect of the course.

And here's my journal:

It is enjoyable being back in class. You know, prior to joining up for the first course, I described to my friends in excrutiating detail why I didn't need a course. All the time I knew my motivation was fear, so I had to throw myself in. I am so glad I did, as now I look to this class without trepidation. Perhaps it helps that I blog something or other daily and that my readers comment in a most supportive fashion. I will be looking for in-person guidance after this course. I'm obviously not cured of fear but it does not have the hold it did some six months ago.

It's been three months since the last course and this first journal could begin to read like a "what did I do over the summer" essay. To minimize that, in a nutshell, I made forays into Gothic calligraphy, Celtic art, and split primary (mostly) color mixing. It's all blogged about in detail so I'll leave it at that here, except to say these recent explorations excite me and leave me wondering on direction.
One constant seems to be my love of this art. I've dropped music and band, at least for now, to better focus. I felt my available time too short and needed to focus my interests. I am trying to develop a good foundation of knowledge and experience for retirement within a few years—all while having a fun time.

Regarding subjects, I have lately been attracted to vines—English Ivy, Bittersweet Nightshade, Poison Ivy, and Virginia Creeper. They are all about my yard. Most of them show dramatic change throughout the seasons with flowers, berries, and leaf coloration. But I am not sure yet if they make my whole picture. Perhaps something of a showy flower.. Yellow Day Lilies come to mind, but the timing might not work as the pods are now small and hard. I find their beauty not only in the full blossom but in the quickly turning shriveled browns. I can always rely on my local florists if need be.

While blogging the prior course, I often gleaned material from the week's posts for my journal, but this week of charts is quite similar to prior weeks and weeks of similar material. There is one subject I found most intriguing—brown and grays and saturation and value. See this post, and especially the exchange of comments, for the details. Color theory is so fascinating.

I think I will wrap up this week at this point and get a good start on washes. I'm especially looking forward to practicing blended washes.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Play Time

Well, I was asked to play. :-)

Picked up some nice feedback on the charts.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sap Green

From a a previously unopened tube of Permanent Sap Green...

Permanent Sap Green is what is known as a convenience color, a mix of a couple of pigments. In this case, Winsor Green YS PG36 comes premixed with Isoindolinone Yellow PY110. That Winsor Green is actually a phthalo, a real heavy hitter. I was reminded of that as soon as I began mixing, as even the cadmiums had a hard time holding their own against that powerful pigment.

Students are asked to "really push those greens" and starting with green instead of blue in this exercise made that quite simple. I particularly liked he way the greens rolled off into browns as we moved further towards red and then into the earth colors.

I may get back to another chart or two, but I think next up is an exercise where I am to simply "play with my paints". Maybe for me that is not as easy at it sounds, having been boxed in with all my color charts.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Here's Another

Students are encouraged to especially explore the greens. Tonight I got in a Thalo Blue chart. This week's work must be submitted by Friday at the latest so I still have time for more--perhaps a cerulean, maybe sap green.

Although the yellows do bring up some nice bright greens, I'm more fond of the earth color mixes.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

More Color Charts

Here is the first of a set of blues mixed with the warm colors at the other end the color wheel. I plan to follow the same method with thalo, cerulean, and some greens--that is, time permitting. This exercise took all of a few hours so I'm not sure how far I'll get this week.

Another assignment calls for working with complementaries.

Yesterday I pondered (whined about?) browns and grays. Katharine kindly stepped up and helped me sort out saturation and tonality. Do check out the comments in yesterday's post for the details.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Color Chart Exercise

This week's exercises call for exploring color mixing. Rather than the detailed manner in the style of Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green, these exercises are about lots of single mixes. I did get in a bit of the old style by doing two mixes, each in different tonal ranges.

I'll get to more of these, as well as some complementary gradations.

I have been thinking an awfully lot about browns and saturation in general. I guess browns can be categorized as low saturated yellow, oranges, and reds. But, then how does gray fit in? This morning I pulled up a bunch of my color charts into Photoshop and began drawing off the saturation, essentially bringing the chart down to a complete lack of color, only shades of gray.

So now what, I thought. Can lack of saturation be both brown and gray? As saturation decreased with yellow, the color slid off onto ochre. Excellent, I thought. Reduced saturation of yellow does lead to brown! But then I continued to decrease saturation and those ochers became gray! So now, I found reduced saturation of yellow led to gray.

I brought up all kinds of charts. Blues, greens, reds, and then some. Of course, as saturation decreased, every color finally became some tone of colorless gray.

So with all this, can I posit a hypothesis that browns are reduced saturation of yellow, orange, and red? There don't seem to be words for reduced saturation colors at the opposite end of the color wheel.

I do hope I'm making sense. I've spent a good deal of time thinking about this, messing about with Photoshop, and just staring at the multitude of browns and grays all about my yard.

The reason for all this commotion? One of my exercises calls from making brown by mixing primaries and then making gray by mixing secondaries. I've read in at least one other book the same thought. My feeling is that this doesn't really make sense. In fact, Exercise 24 has both browns and gray in the same mix. Example 17 is another good example.

If in general, secondaries can be mixed from primaries, then how can it matter? I wonder if I'm onto something here... Or am I just getting mixed up?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Week 1

Friday's are due dates on weekly assignments, meaning they are also start dates for the coming week. Here's a look at this week's activities.

Paper preparation and brush care. Since I've been exclusively using watercolor blocks, I don't need to get into stretching paper, so that's covered. Cleaning brushes I have down; been doing that every night for a couple of months.

Paint charts. I can hear the collective groan. "He's not gonna do more charts, is he?" Well, sure, why not? :-) We are especially encouraged to mix up as many greens as possible. What I'll do is go through my charts, picking out my favorite mixes and reproducing them. It'll be good practice in being able to reproduce mixes at will. Scan and submit.

More charts, now to create browns and grays. Complementaries. More greens. Same as charts above. Scan and submit.

Paint play. Experiment with varying amounts of water. Different brush strokes. Just go wild and be comfortable. This exercise is considered very important. Those who play the most, learn the quickest. Scan and submit.

Weekly journal. This week's topic:

One of the exciting elements of painting is choosing a subject. This week, if you have not yet had the opportunity, then please spend some time considering and gathering objects as subjects for your painting.

In the process, have you found any treasures? You may reflect here about any element of the creative process to date, how your familiarity with the tools is progressing, and any concerns you have about Moodle or any other aspect of the course.

(Note: Moodle is the name of the web-based software platform that the course runs upon.)

Student Open Forum. This week's suggested topics:

Sometimes students, particularly during the winter months, have found it challenging to find simple, intriguing, beautiful elements of the plant world to begin painting. Have you gathered some subjects that are especially pleasing to you?

We would love to be inspired by your best ideas!We also welcome your creativity in hunting down bargains. Share with the forum any art supplies you have stumbled upon at a discount price. Most of the people that I interact with about painting find a special pleasure in getting their supplies!

(Note: We are a class of three, a class with a maximum of twenty. We are all veterans of the Botanical Illustration I class. I think we'll be a lively bunch. The forums are the only place students know there are others about. Last course I had a good deal of fun, exchanging lots of messages. I got to learn a bit about papermaking, something I'd love to try out on the deck this summer.)

How do you hold a brush? Think about how I paint. What muscles groups are involved? Try different grips. Quite simply, become aware.

That is the week in advance. Tonight I'll start by taking notes from my charts, building a list of mixes I want to get to.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Payne's Gray

The Blogger software is making available a new template designer and I'll be trying out a few new looks. What's here now is a canned solution that can be tweaked. As for the header, it doesn't do well here... More play on this soon...

Our instructor, Marcia, is fond of using Payne's Gray and we have exercises that call for its use. With all the tubes in my collection, I still had to go out for a tube. No problem there as I simply love buying supplies.

From Wikipedia:

"William Payne (March 4, 1760 – August 1830) was an English painter and etcher who invented the tint Payne's grey."


"Among the innovations with which he is credited were "splitting the brush to give forms of foliage, dragging the tints to give texture to his foregrounds, and taking out the forms of lights by wetting the surface and rubbing with bread and rag". He also abandoned the use of outline with the pen, but the invention by which he is best known is a neutral tint composed of indigo, raw sienna, and lake called Payne's grey. His methods were regarded as tricky by the old-fashioned practicians of the day. but there is no doubt that he did much to advance the technique of watercolour painting, and was one of the first 'draughtsmen' to abandon mere topography for a more poetical treatment of landscape scenery."

Winsor & Newton's Payne's Gray has a bit of a different makeup:

Chemical description: Copper phthalocyanine, Carbon black, Quinacridone
Color index name: PB 15, PBk 6, PV 19

Here's a bit of play with that color. A graduated scale, some wet in wet, dry brush, and a meld about a wash of thalo green.

Wikipedia contributors. "William Payne (painter)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 7 Jun. 2010. Web. 10 Jun. 2010.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Celtic Cat Returns

You might remember the Celtic Cat from a couple of months ago. Back then he was only 1" square. I scanned him, sized him up to 4.8" (to fit an on hand mat), printed, and transferred to a watercolor block. Except for the Holbein Gold Gouache, all colors are from the Rublev watercolors. Lines with Pigma Micron Sepia.

The gold really doesn't show its majesty with this scan. Of course, that also hides the unevenness. I think I've read that many thin coats is the preferred method of application. Also placed a very light gold wash over the eye for a nice sparkle. I may be reproducing this image later to shape up coloring and detail but, for now, this one's a keeper and nearly ready for framing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Small Color Study Continued

I mentioned yesterday that I felt I needed Winsor Violet to approach saturation. Well, now I'm not too sure. So, this evening I tried a mix of French Ultramarine and Permanent Rose. That went quite well so I followed up by replacing the Permanent Rose with Permanent Alizarin Crimson.

I think the Perm Rose mix is perfectly fine. See that long stripe of violet? To the right is the Perm Rose mix. Pretty good? To the left is the Alizarin mix--still not bad but maybe a smidgen less saturated? A bit grayed?

These are fun tests and I can't help but think that all my previous mixing exercises set me up for these refined color studies. It's a tremendous amount of fun seeing just how many nuanced colors can come from two pigments. I'm imagining the subtleties that could be introduced into a flower petal.

I'll be getting into some of these studies with greens, perhaps waiting for the course as this kind of work is called for in a week or two.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Small Color Study

I've spent a bit of time with initial sketches of Bittersweet Nightshade. I guess I'm getting into plant mode. This evening I tried to match up colors on the nightshade's flowers. I began with my color charts and came close with a mix of French Ultramarine and Permanent Rose but the saturation just didn't seem to be there.

So instead, I tried starting with Winsor Violet and adding tiny bits of Permanent Rose to make a graduated chart. Then I went after the anthers and style which vary from a slightly greenish yellow out into an orangy yellow that slides off in saturation.

Once everything was dry, I tried lifting color from that practice petal to the right. Nothing doing! I've occasionally tinkered with lifting but nothing serious so it could be that I simply need practice. W&N does list the staining property of each paint but of course staining exists across a scale. So, I must get it some experience with this by trying to lift while still damp or dry for each paint. Interesting...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Scan Play and Additional Resources Book

Listed as an additional resource, I am gaining perspective from Painting Flowers In Watercolour by Coral G. Guest. Although it gets into plenty of detail on each topic, it is the high level combination of topics that struck me. Thumbnail sketches, tonal studies, color assessment, lighting, washes, and dry brush technique all come together as a process.

I'm sure all these topics are well covered in many watercolor instructionals. In fact, Valerie Oxley's Botanical Illustration comes to mind. I guess I was simply in the right frame of mind to get the gestalt-like picture.

During the course's first week, each student uploads a test scan to assure that once the real business gets underway that there will be no upsets. Last course I submitted a scan of forced crabapple so I continue the tradition with scanned Bittersweet Nightshade twisted about with Photoshop.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Cornell Watercolor Course

The official name is Botanical Illustration II: Working With Watercolor.

This course, as did the previous, draws upon Bente Starcke King's Beautiful Botanicals. In this introductory week we are asked to skim the introduction, materials, and chapters 1 - 4. Although no longer in print, it's easily available at a reasonable price. I have a copy and especially enjoy the spiral binding. Cornell makes available scanned pages for students not wishing to invest in a book.

These books, all in my library, are listed as additional resources:
  • Painting Plant Portraits: A Step-by-Step Guide by Keith West
  • How To Draw Plants: The Techniques of Botanical Illustration by Keith West
  • Painting Flowers in Watercolour: A Naturalist Approach by Coral G. Guest

It's been three months since the last course ended. I went back over my posts to remind myself where I've been all this time--calligraphy, illuminations, zoomorphics, color charts, robins, skunk cabbage, and some hellish loose w/c attempts. A good range of topics, even if some were ever so briefly touched upon. I think it is the Celtic art that I found most endearing and I will want to slide back into that later this year. Getting back to the course...

Here are the weekly lessons topics:
  • Lesson 1: Brush Care, Preparing Paper, Getting to Know Color
  • Lesson 2: Applying a Wash
  • Lesson 3: Other Helpful Watercolor Techniques: continuing to become confident with brush, paint and water.
  • Lesson 4: Painting in Watercolor: Keep it Simple to Begin With
  • Lesson 5: Progressing Toward More Complexity
  • Lesson 6: Pulling it All Together
Just as during the previous course, this blog will now shift focus to daily updates on what's happening with my assignments. At this time I have in mind the thought of using of local vines as drawing and painting specimens. They may not meet the needs of all flower painting exercises. We'll see as I go along. I've quite a collection of photographs on this subject that need to be collated. Also, I figure I can get out and sketch in the field to get a feel for all this. As you can see from the lesson plan, it will be weeks before painting turns to actual subjects.

There. That's the plan! Naturally subject to change, but a start that I am comfortable and excited with. :-)

Friday, June 4, 2010

More Water Play

I so like the combination of Yellow Ochre and French Ultramarine, quite the versatile pair. I am trying to pull in the feeling of water's motion about the rocks. I think a trip with sketchpad and camera to lake's edge this weekend will help.

The welcome message for the upcoming course came in this week. Monday marks the start day--the first week mostly about familiarity with the web interface and assurance of uploading image scans. Some reading assignments, predominantly on material from the previous drawing course. Details coming soon.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Birch Point

My little scanner couldn't handle this size of this Arches 10x14 CP so there's a bit missing. This is a sketch of my favorite spot around the lake using the exercise 17 palette (French Ultramarine with a dash of Permanent Rose mixed with Winsor Lemon. I like this palette because I can get close to neutral grays. I have a few books on texture that I'd like to get through. Ideas and examples on water, stone, and bark, maybe this weekend.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reflections On Water

In the same spirit of last evening's post, here are palette variations on an simple exercise from Painting Light and Shade. The bloom was a mistake and once I felt it irreparable I just went with the flow and bloomed away.

My fave is the last. I love those wispy clouds. Thalo Green and Permanent Rose make nice complementaries.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Painting Light and Shade

Painting Light and Shade by Patricia Seligman (also the author of The Illuminated Alphabet) came in today. Brand new for only ten bucks! I've not had much time tonight to poke around in it so after a quick scan, I thought I'd try this out. London by Doug Lew. Well, it's kinda scary (ha ha!) but I did learn that there are times when it pays to work from a distance. It wasn't until I decided enough was enough that I had pulled back for the larger picture.

This is another of those limited palette exercises. French Ultramarine with a touch of Permanent Rose. Cad Yellow. I had a really hard time with wetness. Either too much water or not enough. Paper buckling like crazy. I don't know if I'm overdoing the water or if that's okay but my Fabriano pads can't take it. The buckling doesn't leave when the pad dries. So, it's either control the water better or it's time to start stretching.

Winsor and Newton Replies

You may remember that I hadn't heard back from Winsor and Newton regarding my questions on cadmium paints. Well, today I received a nicely informative response!

Here was my original question:

I am a newcomer to watercolor painting and now working through some color mixing exercises.

I'm using Cadmium Yellow and read that this is really a mix of two pigments--PO20 Cadmium Orange and PY35 Cadmium Yellow Light. Then I noticed that Cadmium Orange is actually a mix of PY35 Cadmium Yellow Light and PR108 Cadmium Red. How curious, I thought, that Cadmium Orange would contain no Cadmium Orange but that Cadmium Yellow would!

Could you help me understand why this is so? I'm just a beginner so I'm lacking lots of information but I am very curious.

And here is today's response:

Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry about the delay. I needed to contact the lab and I’m afraid your answer was caught in between a chemist’s vacation and my vacation. The reason for both of these mixtures is that Winsor & Newton tries as far as possible to maintain the same colour standards we always have in spite of changes in raw material supply.

When cadmium pigments were first introduced in the nineteenth century the colour range was limited to mid yellow to yellowish orange. The pigments were made by a simple wet precipitation process and had good but not outstanding permanence.

In the early 20th century the yellow pigments were greatly improved in opacity and permanence by calcining them after precipitation and the colour range increased to include paler greener shades which we would now call cadmium lemon or cadmium yellow pale. In the 1930’s the modification of the cadmium sulphide yellows by including selenium in the process extended the cadmium colour range from yellows through oranges to deep reds.

The original cadmium yellows used by Winsor & Newton were of the old non-calcined type and were generally redder than the modern pure yellows. When replacing them it was found that the best match for Cadmium Yellow was achieved by mixing the modern yellow (PY 35) with an orange (P0 20).

The old type Artists Water Colour Cadmium Yellow Deep and Cadmium Orange were a little more difficult to match because they had an unusually reddish masstone and a relatively yellow undertone, and it was found that a better match for these was obtained with a mixture of a PY 35 yellow and a cadmium red PR 108.

Kind regards,

Lynn Pearl
Senior Manager
Product Marketing & Technical Services
Winsor & Newton