Thursday, November 25, 2010

Colour palette

On my last post Caroline asked about the colours and papers I use, so I thought I would take the opportunity to give a few details.

My usual palette consists of seven colours:-

Raw Sienna
Burnt Sienna
Permanent Rose
French Ultramarine
Winsor Blue (Green Shade)
Winsor Green (Yellow Shade)
Burnt Umber

Occasionally, for flowers or bright objects, I add Winsor Yellow and Scarlet Lake.

The colours are all transparent and are spread evenly around the colour wheel -

I find that this gives me the greatest number of possibilities for mixes. Most of the time I only have to mix two colours together. I can make a good range of warm greys with Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna, or cool greys with Winsor Green and Permanent Rose. Both mixes produce a very dark grey at full strength. In fact Winsor Green/Permanent Rose will give me as close to black as I ever need. I have Burnt Umber for dark mixes as well, but I tend to forget to use it because Burnt Sienna seems just as good for that purpose.

I don't always need to use all of the colours. In fact I have often only used Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Raw Sienna.

I used to follow the maxim that you should always mix greens from yellow and blue, and never use a ready-made green. However, I found that the mixes were often a bit opaque and nearly always involved using a bit of red to get the right colour. Since I started using Winsor Green (which is the pigment Pthalocyanine Green), I have found that I can get a good range of transparent greens by mixing it with the earth colours. Also I usually only need to use two colours.

The papers that I use at the moment are Bockingford Rough and Fabriano artistico in Rough and Not (Cold-pressed). I like these papers because they are not heavily sized and the paint flows on better. Sometimes I use other papers, like Arches or Saunders Waterford, but I find that they don't take the paint so well and it tends to dry lighter.

The paper is usually 300gsm (140lb) and unstretched. It does curl up a bit if I am doing a very wet painting, but it isn't usually too much of a problem. If it doesn't dry flat, I dampen the back and press it between sheets of clean paper overnight.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Autumn at Braemar

Autumn at Braemar
25 x36 cm

When I visited Deeside I was hoping to see some wonderful autumn colours in the trees and I wasn't disappointed. There is a hill above Braemar, called Morrone, which has it's lower slopes covered with birch trees. A short climb leads to a viewpoint with a panorama of the Cairngorm Mountains.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Old Brig o' Dee

Old Brig o' Dee
25 x 36 cm

I have a wonderful book of Diploma Paintings by members of the Royal Watercolour Society - The Glory of Watercolour by Michael Spender. One of the paintings in the book is "The Old Brig o' Dee" by Samuel John Birch, so when I was in Deeside I was keen to see the bridge for myself and make some sketches of it. The trees have grown a lot in a hundred years, so the view is less open now. Birch may also have used a bit of artists' licence to show more of the bridge. That's certainly what I did for this painting; when I sketched it I couldn't see the left-hand arch. I have made a pencil sketch of Birch's painting for comparison.

 Sketch of the painting of
"Old Brig o' Dee"
by Samuel John 'Lamorna' Birch

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Autumn Sunshine

Autumn Sunshine
16 x 26 cm

Among all the gales and rain we are still having some sunny autumn days here.