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
Watercolour
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
Watercolour
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
Watercolour
16 x 26 cm

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