Knotty Problems…

I spent quite a few hours recently setting up my watercolor palette.  Apparently, I’m plagued by indecision and inexperience!  But I’m glad it’s finally done.  To celebrate, I decided to do a couple of abstract pieces, each focusing on a triad of primaries.   Sharing here in case anyone is shopping for colors and might like to see how they flow together.   Both were done on damp paper, and so they were able to mingle some on the page.

The first features a cool trio, including quinacridone rose, cobalt blue, and aureolin/azo yellow, all by M. Graham:

0511 1

The second stars Cotman’s cadmium red hue (the only warm red I own), cadmium yellow and phthalo blue, both by M Graham:

They actually looked better dry than wet, a nice surprise.  And I found this to be a fun way to get to know color.

What I learned:

  1. I need another warm red.  Haven’t decided on which.   Any recommendations?
  2. Combining Cotman cadmium red hue and Graham phthalo blue makes mud instead of the vibrant purple I was expecting.  Good to know!
  3. Warm weather means the initial laydown of clear water will dry much faster, meaning if you want a wet-into-wet look, you better shake your tailfeather!

The workweek begins!   I hope all of you have a wonderful week, and I hope to have some nature drawings to share with you before Saturday dawns.  Peace.

31 thoughts on “Knotty Problems…

        1. I used to love the games when I was younger, but part of my multiple food intolerances is a bad heat intolerance….doesn’t translate to baseball very well, and I can do without the crowds, too. I’m glad all the games are televised! 🙂

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  1. I like the second picture, the contrast between the blue and yellow looks nice and bright. Can’t wait to see what your nature drawing will be 🙂

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  2. Thanks for the tips Laura! The kids bought me some more paint and a light box and masking fluid and some paper for Mother’s day, so I’m looking forward to having time to play some more too! 🙂

    True about the water drying faster – eh? Do you paint outside?

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    1. I have a go at it from time to time but still learning about it too. Its nice to see how you experiment with the colours, gives me new ideas to have a go with it again.

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      1. I’m so glad to be inspiring you in some way.

        I think colored pencil may actually be my medium; it seems to be the one I get the best results with, but I fell in love with watercolor first, and that’s what drew me into art. So that’s the one I really want to perfect.

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  3. That’s a neat exercise. I may replicate to test how my palette blends.

    I can’t recommend any other warm reds (I happen to use DaVinci “permanent red,” PR188, but I don’t know how that compares with your cadmium). That phthalo blue might be a little cool to mix with the warm cad red, which could explain the mud. I’d be interested to learn if your cobalt blue blends with the red for a better purple – or, perhaps, if you have a cooler red like your quin rose.

    I am curious if you have any advice on papers. I struggle with papers drying too fast, and I have a sample pack to try several different brands. I’m hoping some will help lengthen the drying time over the Strathmore papers I have been using.

    Always enjoy your posts. Cheers!

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    1. Thank you, Frank!

      Advice on papers….that is a good one. I’ve not yet tested the Canson wc pad in the warmer weather. The Strathmore watercolor block I used for this experiment and the Arches 140# cold press both seemed to work similarly as far as the warm weather and the drying time for the water. I hadn’t thought about it, but you raise a good point: maybe a different paper would give more lead time. I have not yet dived into the 300# Arches pool. I do plan to try it soonish, though, just to compare to the 140#, if nothing else.

      Re the colors – I’m going to take a look tonight after work. I’ll be curious if the cobalt blue looks better with the cad red. I believe the “cool” picture combined the cobalt blue with the quin rose and the azo yellow (and that purple was very nice). I’m curious what warm blue you might recommend to go with the cad red and cad yellow? Sometimes I have trouble deciding if a color is warm or cool. I can only tell relative to another color, usually. The phthalo was definitely warmer than the cobalt, in this case. It may be the warmest looking blue I have, but I’d be curious for your thoughts on a warmer blue.

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  4. Fun to see your experiments! As for another red color, maybe try to buy some smaller tubes so you can mix to see what you like best. Maybe a darker red like a crimson? I have several palettes. Different teachers like different colors so I like to paint with their colors to get a feel for what I like. It is also fun to try different brands like you are doing. I try to stay away from student grade paints. I like your second colors best because they are more vibrant. 😊

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    1. I hear ya, Jill. I do have alizarin crimson, but my understanding is that’s considered a cool/pinky red, similar to the quin rose. When I was first starting with wc, I was overwhelmed by everything I apparently “needed” to buy (and not even sure what I needed and what I didn’t) and so, to get a feel for color, I bought quite a few small tubes of the Cotman because Blick has it very inexpensively. I agree, they are not as vibrant, but at least they give me an idea of what color I’m dealing with, so I know which paints to buy in the artist-grade. I should probably google “warm red watercolor paint” or something lol. Lord knows, Google is the magic-8-ball of the modern world. 🙂 Thanks for your help (as always) and I’m glad you got a kick out of my goofy experiments.

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  5. I’ve not worked with watercolors in so long that the only color I know off the top of my head is Rose Madder Genuine (Windsor Newton)…and I remember it because it actually smells like roses!

    Those are very good pieces for trying out colors. I especially like the top one!

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  6. So funny that the weather teaches the same in Spain and the US right now. 😊 One has to paint a lot faster nowadays to keep up with the water drying… People in the desert can only do fast sketching I guess. 😉 Thought about your “warm red” issue… Maybe you don´t need to buy another warm red. I work with a very limited amount of colors (actually I have only one red) and mix them with water and other colors. You could add a little warm yellow or orange to your red or some other warm color to get your second warm red… But I must admit: Buying colors is great fun too!!! Love your pictures, btw. They look like summer!

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