Monday, March 08, 2010

more than enough

The light was hitting some silk flowers in the disaster area I call my art room, so I sat down with my timer to do a 20-minute painting. I was actually "finished," at least as far I could go with (my always-too) wet paper, but decided to keep pushing on until the alarm went off. ... I had a teacher who thought I never "pushed" far enough; I never really knew what she meant.

I've been tormenting myself with selecting colors to fill a new 32-well palette. You'd think 32 would be more than enough ... and it is, and yet there's always something you have to leave out, something you may want. I had just about selected my 32 when I read recommendations of three other colors. So I decided which I'd swap out for those, if I decided to swap them out and made these swatches.

The first set is the hardest: whether to trade green gold for quinacridone gold. I don't think I can do it ... and now I want to add Q gold too. Something else will have to go.
In the second set, cobalt teal (M. Graham) and cobalt turquoise (W&N), happily, there's no discernible difference--in color, flow, granulation: so no choice to be made. Yay.
The last set probably looks a bit puzzling--they're not even close: brown madder and raw umber. But a teacher whose paintings I love uses raw umber for stormy skies with beautiful results. I don't have many "earth" colors on my palette--usually just raw sienna, burnt sienna, with the additions here of brown madder (it was on John Singer Sargent's palette) and burnt umber, so one of these would have to go to make way for raw umber. But turns out I don't care for raw umber at all and since, as far as I can tell, either raw sienna or burnt umber (which is just like raw umber but with some red in it) would do just as well for stormy skies, there's no need for raw umber.
And, now that I look at it, I think I'll eliminate brown madder to make room for Q gold too.

My palettes are always so full of the cool red to purple spectrum. I don't give much thought to the yellows--a difficult color I try to avoid! (I usually use aureolin or new gamboge) or greens--so many, so tempting: I'm a sucker for trying new greens but should really discipline myself and stick to a couple and get to know them; I've a fondness for Hooker's and sap.
I'm adding Winsor blue and Winsor green (YS) to my 32 well palette. I've never used these before, but in other painters' painting, they're so intense ... I want to throw them into the mix.

I'm curious, what are your favorite/most useful earth colors? Greens?

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Gillian said...

It's funny you saying that those are silk flowers because your painting looks similar to a silk painting - so vibrant and beautiful!

Adventures in Art said...

Beautiful flowers! you use such exciting colors. Thanks for sharing the info about your color choices. Very interesting! I'm trying to find the colors I like and that work for me.

Joyfulartist said...

I like sap and hookers for greens, too, but I almost always add another color to them instead of straight out of the tube. I think I have at least 4 yellows, two warm and two cool. They are great to add to green. I love quin. gold.
I only use pthalo green and red to mix together to make gray or black. I don't care for burnt umber or raw sienna. I live in Florida and I find that I paint with brighter colors than when I'm in the northern climates.

Mineke Reinders said...

The flowers are lovely. I don't know if "pushing" is always a good thing with watercolor. Good when it means trying the unexpected, but not good when it means doing more than necessary. That doesn't apply to this painting though, which looks as fresh as all your work.

Thanks for sharing your color dilemmas. I love both Q gold and green gold (I lost the latter somehow)and would keep them both. I've never used brown madder so have no opinion about it. I would ditch raw umber - I've tried it but never loved it. But then again, I'm not a great fan of the earth colors in general. Sepia is the only earth color on my palette, and I couldn't do without it. At least, until they come out with a quinacridone sepia, or something like that :).

Good luck filling those 32 wells... Remember, you can always leave a few of them empty and fill them with whatever color you need when you need it. I sometimes use the mixing area of my palette for an occasional color too, when I don't want to allocate its own well to it, because I might not use it again for months.

Sorry to ramble on, but this is such a fascinating subject!

A Brush with Color said...

I'd love to hear all your colors--they're always so pretty, Laura. These look like good choices. As far as earth colors, I do have the Q Gold, and I think it's lovely. I only in the past year ever tried brown madder, and it's sort of an interesting paint, but I admit I'm not practiced using it yet. Love your painting!

Ruth said...

I have to say, Laura, that all that paint color talk is pretty sexy. I've been in love with food and its sensuality lately. Now you've got me going with all those raws.

Congratulations on your recently proofread poetry volume, by the way. It looks wonderful.

RHCarpenter said...

Beautiful choices - I can't live without my Quin Gold! ha ha I always switch and play with blues and yellows for greens, although I buy tubes of green I then don't use :( I do like Raw Sienna and Lunar Earth (for the granulation effects), but don't have a lot of earthy colors. I love your palette even if you shy away from yellows so it works for you :) And I'm loving your TMCs - you really get a lot out of 20 minutes - and I think when your teacher says you don't push through enough it probably just was a statement about your higher key paintings? Nothing wrong with painting high key.


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