Why YOU need a curated watercolor palette…and my scary overhaul!

Why YOU need a curated watercolor palette…and my scary overhaul!

What’s a curated palette? It might sound like something an art dealer would come up with, right? Nope. It’s YOUR palette. YOUR group of colors. It’s what helps define YOUR voice as an artist.

And you know what? That can change from time to time. Mine just did, and I want to share the excitement and the terror with you!

Tutorial

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Meet the 8 new colors

I’d like to introduce you to the new colors that have entered the scene – and say a fond and loving farewell to those who served me well but needed a period of retirement. I reserve the right to bring some back if I miss them!

 

Yellow changes

Aureolin sadly got the boot to make room for a yellow that bursts; if you’ve been watching me for a while, you know I love me some Nickel Azo and the way it breaks into its own song and dance when it meets wet pigment! But I have never liked the actual color of it by itself. 

I found a good substitute though, after testing out all the yellows I could find and seeing who played nice like NA. And it’s Indian Yellow! It’s got not only the playfulness but a nicer base color, and the ability to have a gentle value range too.

Remaining in the collection: Hansa Yellow Light, New Gamboge, Yellow Ochre.

 

Red changes

I’ve wrestled with reds for a while, even avoiding red subjects sometimes because of my dissatisfaction with how Anthraquinoid Scarlet sometimes dries. It’s not reliable for a strong red. So byebye to that as well as Permanent Alizarin Crimson, which I just don’t seem to use much at all.

Hellooooooo to new friends Pyrrol Crimson and Permanent Red Deep! Both are more staining, but are also more intense when painted, so I’m excited to try some of those red roses I’d avoided for a long time.

Remaining in the palette: Quinacridone Rose. And since Transparent Red Oxide is renting space in the reds, it stays too.

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Blue changes

Massive overhaul here! Going away are Cobalt Blue and Phthalo Blue Turquoise; yes I had a limited blue selection but that’s now changing!

Welcomed to the palette: French Ultramarine, which I’ve wanted to swap in for some time now, since SO many artists swear by it for mixing neutrals. I want to see what the fuss is all about because I’ve been doing that successfully with Cobalt for years.  French Ultramarine does have a bigger value range too, so I’ll be playing with that.

Also welcomed: Duochrome Cabo Blue. A duochrome has some shimmeryshiny properties which is nice, but also the ability to burst like Indian Yellow and Nickel Azo, so watch for playtime there.

 

And some fun: Verditer Blue was a class requirement some years back and while it was nice I just never paid attention to that tube. Which has now changed, because OH how perfect is this blue?

Turquoise change

I mentioned Phthalo Blue Turquoise making an exit….it’s described as perfect for oceans but I never found it to have quite a greenish turquoise feel to it. Pretty and intense, but too staining and too blue.

Meet Ultramarine Turquoise! This color has a wide value range, which can get overwhelming if overdone, but oh I love it for a soft wash.

 

Green change

Two exits: Green Gold is easily mixed with a yellow, and while I liked having it handy, I decided to vacate it to make room for the bonus Verditer blue. And I’ve noticed I haven’t used Green Apatite in quite some time so it was voted off the island.

Incoming in greens is Chromium Green Oxide, which I promise to regularly misname Chromium Oxide Green or other combinations of the three, ha! But I’m interested in what I’ll do with an opaque green, and playing with how it mixes with other colors too. I love the non-screamy and natural tone it brings to a painting.

Sticking around: Cascade Green and Sap Green.

 

Last but never least, my heroes

In the last section of my palette are my most and least used colors but all must stay until something else begs its way in. Payne’s Blue Gray is likely my most-used color! I use it to deepen colors; even if darkening with complements, a dash of PBG is often just what I need. A friend who was helping me with my paint color choices in my house even noticed it; she looked at my collection of framed paintings and asked “What’s that color? It’s your signature hue!” And it was a PBG sky.

Lunar Blue and Moonglow are simply some of the most wonderful granulators. If I need some granulation within another color, I can drop a little of one of these in and get that texture. Plus both have a HUGE value range and can create a lovely painting all by themselves!

So what’s in your palette?

How many colors are in your curated palette? Or have you yet to try curating one? Let me know in a comment, as well as what questions you have about setting one up….I’d love to help!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

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How to create a value scale BEFORE you paint/draw

How to create a value scale BEFORE you paint/draw

Is it dangerous to mention the word “scale” in a January post?

This is not about that kind of scale! I’m talking a value scale: a range from white to black and all the values in between. Yes they can be greys, but also – color!

A bit on Saturday’s mess-up:

My apologies for the broken link in the previous post; that caused some massive stress for a bunch of you, and I’m sorry about that.  

The reason I even switched to a newsletter instead of relying on a link to work in an automated email is because of mistakes. I hate being so human that I disappoint readers.

If there’s an error when you receive a newsletter, please just come back in a few hours. Inevitably someone has told me there was a problem and it got fixed. Newsletters link to this blog, and this blog I can edit anytime, but an email in your inbox remains busted.

Tutorial: How to create a value scale BEFORE you paint/draw

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Black and white value range

It’s relatively easy to think of value when it’s black and white. It’s not hard to see one grey lighter or darker than another. This tiger cub was drawn during the monthly Open Studio zoom call at Artventure, where we gather and just chat while working on our own projects. One attendee said she was surprised because she had thought I had finished already, then I added the richest darks. That inspired today’s video! 

The January call will be on the 27th, come bring your own art project and visit with us on Zoom. See the Artventure Event calendar for info.

Color value scale

You can create a value scale in any hues. Be prepared that you might THINK a color fits in one slot but will need to be in another spot instead. If you label your swatches, keep them in an envelope so if you use those colors again, you’ll have the value scale handy.

Decide if you will WANT the full range, or stop one or two short. For my piece I didn’t want the REALLY dark darks.

 

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Apply the value scale

Once you’ve decided what the range is, get busy painting or drawing! Some mediums work best dark to light, but I find if I’m in doubt, starting light and getting darker is safer. Keep your scale nearby to compare as needed.

The palette

When Seth from FraNordHandmade on Etsy  asked if I’d be interested in trying a palette, I looked through the site…so many options! Different shapes, sizes, numbers of wells – tons of options. I had thought maybe the 6 well palette would be a little bit big for my sketch easel but not so much that it wouldn’t work. But once I saw it’s not just ceramic, it’s ceramic. Meaning a klutz like me will assuredly drop it on a sidewalk someday and shatter it. So it’ll instead stay in the studio, where it works great for using colors that aren’t in the big palette – I can squeeze out a little paint or create puddles with sticks, then wash it and be done. You’ll see it in an upcoming video since I found a great purpose for it!

One thing that does bother me a little is the handmade-ness means paint is getting stuck under the corners of the pressed-on wells. While I can run ceramic under the sink and clean that out, the feet under the palette are felt – anyone know what would happen to wet felt? How long would that take to dry…? I’d like to wash it then use it right away but I might not be able to do that with wet feet.

 

Mentioned in this video:

The watercolor sticks video

For your convenience….

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

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Art Challenges & Creativity – Wash and Ink

Art Challenges & Creativity – Wash and Ink

Did you ever know there’s such a thing as Letter Writing Week? I found out recently and was thrilled! The only problem: it’s the second week of January. And apparently someone else calculated that to be NEXT week, so I’m just celebrating a week early. Whaaaatevah, right? 

My real point in this video, however, isn’t Letter Writing Day nearly as much as addressing how we, as artists, use art challenges. I think people see them as helping to improve their drawing by being forced to draw some object on a prompt. But the real challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to stretch your creativity instead. Let’s talk about that!

Art Challenges & Creativity  

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Push your creative thinking

Instead of being literal when meeting an online art challenge, just drawing what’s in the prompt, see what the poem contains that applies to YOU.

  • How does it make you feel?
  • What does it make you think of?
  • Do you smell anything? Taste anything? Feel a temperature?
  • What mood are you in?

There are unlimited questions that can guide you to find your personal interpretation. 

 Wind and Window Flower

by Robert Frost

Lovers, forget your love,
And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
And he a winter breeze.

When the frosty window veil
Was melted down at noon,
And the cagèd yellow bird
Hung over her in tune,

He marked her through the pane,
He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by,
To come again at dark.

He was a winter wind,
Concerned with ice and snow,
Dead weeds and unmated birds,
And little of love could know.

But he sighed upon the sill,
He gave the sash a shake,
As witness all within
Who lay that night awake.

Perchance he half prevailed
To win her for the flight
From the firelit looking-glass
And warm stove-window light.

But the flower leaned aside
And thought of naught to say,
And morning found the breeze
A hundred miles away.

This poem is in the public domain.

Ignore prompt lists if necessary

Don’t stop at seeing “spider” on an Inktober list. If the prompt doesn’t move you – go draw something that does. The point of a month-long challenge is to just do something each day; not to do THAT thing. Sure it’s interesting to see how 745 peopld draw that spider. But how many of the drawings tell you how they feel about a spider? 

You are fully allowed to go off track. If anyone questions you about why you’re drawing a tree when the prompt is house, just tell them houses are made from the wood of trees. Or send them to me, I’ll give them the what-for!

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My painting

My flower painting is headed to my poetrypal. Along with a handwritten letter to tell her, in as best prose as I can muster, how grateful I am for her texts. Even if it takes me time to reply, because I need to read the verses aloud a few times to let it resonate! 

 

Fave poem?

If you’ve got a suggestion for a poem I can send her a little of, drop it in a comment. I’d love some help in paying her back for the joy she brings me!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

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How to sketch latte foam art (3 mediums)

How to sketch latte foam art (3 mediums)

For my celebration of Cuddle Up Day, let’s sketch latte foam art! And yes I know I don’t drink coffee. But swirling some beautiful art in a cup of something warm seemed too perfect not to do….art in a coffee mug! And in three different mediums, so there’s something here for everyone to try out.

Tutorial: How to sketch latte foam art

Make a cup of your fave warm beverage before  you tap play!

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Alcohol marker

I used Copics here…. layering colors from the light peach and yellow underneath the coffee browns. The shadow cast on the top of the foam is on the side where the light hits.

Colors: E01 YR23 E35 E33 E29 0

Fresh Brew Class

This brand new class is available (and on sale!) – it’s a level 3 intermediate course, and will show you how to make three awesome cups of coffee using photo references. We’ll talk value, shape, layering, color – and at the end you’ll get lots of coffee cup photos to keep practicing on! SIGN UP FOR CLASS

Colored pencil

Once again layer layer layer! Start light and you can keep adding deeper color til you’re happy.

Colors: 1034 Goldenrod 945 Sienna Brown

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Watercolor

A little less complicated design here since watercolor can be challenging to get all those soft blends; after getting it mostly where you want it, paint over it with a middle tone to push some of the foam under the coffee’s surface.

Colors: Yellow Ochre, Transparent Red Oxide

Zoom call coming up!

Over on Artventure I’ll be hosting a zoom call with some bonus info for those in class (anyone can come, but the zoom will answer some questions left on the cutting room floor.) See the Events tab at Artventure.

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

ALCOHOL MARKER:

  1. Copic Markers 
  2. Colors: E01 YR23 E35 E33 E29 0
  3. Copic Hex Chart 
  4. Copic sketchbook 
  5. Fresh Brew Class

COLORED PENCILS:

  1. Prismacolor pencils 
  2. Colors: 1034 Goldenrod 945 Sienna Brown
  3. Prismacolor Hex Chart
  4. Electric Eraser, Mont Marte

WATERCOLOR:

  1. Lake Michigan Book Press Sketchaday is custom made with Arches:
    1. Arches Cold Press Pad
    2. Arches Cold Press sheets
  2. Daniel Smith Watercolors: Yellow Ochre. Transparent Red Oxide
  3. Winsor Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round #8 https://amzn.to/2WjFI8e
  4. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Sable Round 4 
  5. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Brush – Inlaid Liner (Needle), Size 10 

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Watercolor fiesta (my last video!)

Watercolor fiesta (my last video!)

It’s GIVING TUESDAY! Ever since I ran Operation Write Home as a charity years ago, I’ve appreciated giving so much more than ever. I mean, I always knew organizations needed money. But the idea of running on a shoestring really hit me hard back then—and anything I can do to help other orgs become sustaining so they can focus on the work, not the money. Here’s a little blast from way back in the past:

Whatever your cause and passion, please do go give something today. Set up a regular giving plan with them….I’ve got plans for monthly giving – even tiny amounts – with 4 organizations, and I move heaven and earth to be sure I can cover those. (I even missed my cable bill earlier this year to help keep food going to Ukraine through World Central Kitchen!)

This year, Giving Tuesday’s on one of my YT days. AND it’s my final ful ltutorial for 2023! So I decided to make a bigger push toward getting something ready for today. Late last night I finished getting the files uploaded for a new class, and put the final touches on a page all about CHARITY at art-classes.com ! I hope you can find something to participate in, whether large or small.

Tutorial: Watercolor fiesta (my last video!)

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Green Thumb Watercolor: Poinsettia

Another in the Green Thumb series! It’s been added to the Green Thumb Watercolor Sketches class with the sketch – or you can try your hand at sketching your own! I used Indanthrone and Azo Yellow for this one – a bit of a wild combo since Indanthrone like to stay center-stage. Funds generated from this course will benefit the Nature Conservancy. 

Arctic Bear Watercolor

This level 4 Arctic Bear Watercolor class has sooooo many tips in it! I went back in my mind to so many troubles I had as a new watercolorist taking on more than I was ready for. If you have problems, I’ve been there! This isn’t an easy painting by any means, but for those who give it a try, I promise  you’ll learn a lot regardless of how your bear comes out. Funds from this course will support Polar Bears International..

Visit the charity page for more!

The courses launched over all these years are listed on the Charity page, as well as the printables. I’ve added some just for today, in case there’s a class that tugs at your heart too!

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

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COMPARISON: Watercolor vs Gouache / Atmospheric Perspective Paintings

COMPARISON: Watercolor vs Gouache / Atmospheric Perspective Paintings

Cue the battle music and the smoke machines: IT’S A DUEL! It’s time for a head-to-head comparison between gouache and watercolor!! In the video I’ll be showing you the same painting in both, showing how to create an effect in one medium then in the other. 

Tutorial: Watercolor vs Gouache / Atmospheric Perspective Paintings

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Atmospheric perspective in gouache

Creating the colors and values to depict (and even exxagerate) the depth in a scene in gouache requires mixing the colors. There’s no accidental mixing by colors moving around on their own – it’s all conscious desicsion-making.

Some of the big benefits of gouache are….

  1. It’s a slower process; water’s not causing panic as color flows.
  2. You can stop and take a break without having to worry that the paper will dry.
  3. You can paint over areas that didn’t work out.

Atmospheric perspective in watercolor

Since watercolor pigments move within the moisture on the paper, it’s easy to get a flow of color with softly blended edges. Thicker paint moves more slowly, wet mixes flood out into the area they’re dropped into. Less paint creates that desaturated, faraway look, and thicker mixtures are great for foreground detail.

Some of the big benefits of watercolor are….

  1. Quick flowing process; the watercolor took about 2/3 as long as the gouache painting.
  2. Soft edges easily can be created with wet-in-wet techniques.
  3. Detail can be added using my favorite needle (“inlaid liner” brush!

So which is better?

That’s all a subjective choice! I find there are some subjects that lend themselves better to one or another—and sometimes I don’t find out til I’ve tried it a few times. Ha! I love having the option to try the other water media if one doesn’t work. My gouache work is taking on a more loose, painterly, oil painter style, unlike many gouache artists who carefully exploit the “graphic” nature of shapes and color blocks that gouache can create.

Oil painting class

I’m in Samuel Earp’s Online School to learn gouache from studying the process that oil painters use. It’s really helping a lot already! While oils can get more blending than I can achieve with gouache (that may change as I explore techniques), I’m learning a ton about mixing colors for the right atmospheric perspective in landscapes.

Supplies

Some product may be provided by manufacturers for review and use. Compensated affiliate links are here at no cost to you. I appreciate your support of my work with your purchases! Full affiliate and product disclosure | My trusted partners in art

  1. WATERCOLOR:
    1. Daniel Smith Watercolors:
      1. French Ultramarine Blue
      2. Payne’s Blue Gray
      3. Transparent Red Oxide
      4. Green Apatite
    2. Arches Cold Press Pad
    3. Winsor Newton Kolinsky Sable Series 7 Round #8 
    4. Da Vinci Maestro Kolinsky Brush – Inlaid Liner (Needle), Size 8 
  2. GOUACHE:
    1. Daniel Smith Gouache:
      1. Ultramarine 
      2. Titanium White 
      3. Permanent Green Light 
      4. Hansa Yellow Deep
      5. Burnt Sienna 
      6. Lamp Black 
    2. Joybest airtight palette 
    3. Jack Richeson travel brush set –BlickAmazon 
    4. Canson XL:  BLICKAMZ

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