World Watercolor Month Days #25 and #26

Not sure how I forgot to post my bit of watercolor yesterday but here it is. I have a new palette and I’m debating how to set it up, so I’m still messing around to see what colors some new possibilities become when mixed with other more known players. Seems to me that if you’re going to have another palette it should be substantially different in some ways from the other ones you’ve already got going. I don’t know. On the other hand if it was wildly different from what I commonly use, chances are I wouldn’t use it? Ack.

Yesterday I received my first postcard for the August Poetry Postcard Festival. Today I received postcards #2 and #3. They blew me away, humbled me and filled me with gratitude.

World Watercolor Month Days #25 and #26

World Watercolor Month Day #22

It rained all day and it’s still raining. Which is good because during that insane sunset last night the temperature and humidity dropped 10 points each and this morning it was a swell 65F.

An online tutor that I have, Alan Owen in the UK, posted a video demonstrating mixing various greens and wondering what blues and yellows we were using to mix greens. He’d asked me that question the other day about a painting I’d posted to the group and I have the feeling he’d prefer that we all mix our greens. I do test mixes from time to time because in theory mixing greens make sense. You have blues and yellows on your palette that should be all you need to mix up whatever you need. In reality I keep a few greens on my palette and mix from there. I think it’s often water control that messes me up.

But anyway – rainy day and a question worth answering – what greens can you get from the blues and yellows on your palette (and beyond). I took nine blues and six yellows and did a rather orderly mixing chart. Then I did a page of just various greens I have.

I’ve been thinking of setting up the new palette I got recently but was trying to figure out how to make it different than the one I’m carrying at the moment. So while pondering this I swatched out the yellows and red and browns plus a few purples. That about covered the whole spectrum.

mixing colors, swatches, new palette//

new palette

World Watercolor Month Day #22

Playing with color

I try not to buy a lot of different colors in watercolor since, in theory, you can mix all the colors you need from a rather limited array of colors. In reality this isn’t totally true (mixing bright or pale pinks is not easy for instance, and when you paint a lot of trees – a LOT of trees – using a range of prepared greens makes life a lot easier) and you know – you watch some video or wander into the art supply store and suddenly you’ve got a tube or two more in your stash.

This friends is how I recently ended up with a group of greys (warm, cool granulating, etc) and a set of new Winsor and Newton transparent colors and a couple tubes of Cobalt Blue, Deep.

And this is why every once in awhile you have to take time to mix colors together and find out what happens. In class last week, I asked if I was the only person who wasn’t a big cerulean fan. Only the teacher responded, without judgement!, with a great explanation of why cerulean, as a granulating color makes great color mixes and provides texture. He also explained the differences between that and the other two I have tried. He did say that different people see color differently. To me, it’s a little greyed.

I resolved to try it again after I use what’s in my palettes. My test was to add yellow and red to make a green and purple and then to use a complementary orange to see what happened.

The idea of cobalt deep surprised me – cobalt is one of the basic, everybody has it and uses it, colors but deep – very granulating, intense… oooh sign me up. I did find a Winsor & Newton version – lovely.

But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here to say that sometimes you see something on the interwebs and think – that’s not true, is it? the man demonstrating at the American Watercolor Society did a whole scene using a bunch of mixed values all made of French Ultramarine and Golden Ochre. He explained that they don’t blend in the way that you might expect, to make something greenish. Instead, they blend as two suspensions and then granulated out into a mixture of blue and ochre particles. Mind blown. (also saw Cobalt Deep used similarly when creating shadowed areas using it and another color)

I search for a “gold(en)” ochre since all mine are yellow or just ochre and most definitely make green. Once in hand, this is what happened.

Playing with color

Greys – Grays – Got ’em

Got a package via Fed Ex today, rushed from the heart of Dick Blick. They didn’t want me to wait until the twenty-second as indicated when I’d placed the order. Five new paints – all greys/grays/sorta-grey.

I had just enough time to try these out on a bit of Arches hot press 140 and I knew I should have found some cold press instead. But here you go, joined by five other greys I already had and, in the middle, the common mixed grey of french ultramarine and burnt sienna. All Daniel Smith except for the one, noted as Holbein.

The new ones were pretty non-granulating compared to the others, at least on this paper. I think the grey titanium will be useful.

Greys – Grays – Got ’em was originally published on

Sharpening the Blade (or pencil)

Got a new Blackwing pencil – Volume 4 – and used my uber sharpener to get it going.

These pencils have different woods and leads. The new one has a redder wood than my previous models.

Sharpening the Blade (or pencil) was originally published on


I’m pretty confident that although the cats could drag the whole black roll around, they’ll be unable to pull the nice “fur” brushes out of it without developing opposable thumbs.

The things we do to protect cats. See also: snap-cover water jars… and covered palettes…

Cat-proofing was originally published on

Helpful Cats…

Several mornings in a row I awoke to find various brushes out of the roll up they live in and scattered upstairs and down. Not amused. The most favored of course are the sables and squirrel mops. The cat(s) seem to have pulled them out of the roll leaving everything as is.

In desperation I got the same brush roll I use in my travel kit which folds over the end of the brushes. Hopefully this will eliminate the temptation. Bad kitties.

The fellow at my local art supply store found this all rather amusing. I was just glad they had another roll.

Helpful Cats… was originally published on

What’s in YOUR car?

It’s almost that time of year, emphasis on **ALMOST**. Right now it’s still a bit chilly and often windy to sit outside and paint, so I’ve been painting in the car. Here’s a quick look of what I have with me. Also there’s a jug of water and a recycled bottle or two of water and a bag of old tshirts torn up to use as rags.

This is what I use when painting in the car: my roll of brushes, palette, paper, sketchbook (right now it’s a hand*book with watercolor paper, often it’s a Strathmore sketchbook), and a cup with a smaller cup which both fit in the car’s cup holder. I can use a drawing board or the corrugated plastic to hold paper using clips.

Here’s the pack and a shot of the tripod which lives in a side water bottle pocket. A water bottle lives in the pocket on the other side. Another one can live next to the guerilla box inside the pack if needed. The roll of brushes and the palette fit nicely on top of the box.

Here’s almost everything that’s inside the pack and the box. In the rearmost section of the pack are a couple pieces of corrugated plastic that protect some sheets of paper torn to various sizes. There are some spare clips and whatnot in one of the top pockets. Sometimes the damp rags and waterbowls live in a front pocket that seems waterproof lined rather than plushy. Sometimes the brush roll lives in the box.

Not seen: a great folding chair that is very light and which can be strung from the pack with a strap system made for camera tripods, easy on, easy off.

What I like about this pack – it’s light and has a pocket large enough for the tripod and a clipping strap that helps secure it. It’s not over-engineered inside with too many pockets and divisions so the main compartment is big enough for the pochade box with the palette and brushes on top of it. (I took those with me when shopping!) The back compartment is big enough to hold paper sizes that are reasonable to travel with. I’m pretty short and it’s not too big and I can comfortably use it, with or without the waist belt. What I like about it everytime I use it – it has a strong handle on top and one midway on the front so it’s easy to pick up and move around, even fully loaded. I do try to keep out frivolous things and sometimes rearrange it for a particular place.

What’s in YOUR car? was originally published on

Here and There Tuesday

Yes it was sloppy slushy snow this morning but nothing in the grand scheme of things. When I went out to push snow off the car, it was wet but obviously not going to stick around.

When i ducked back into the house for something the mailman came. In the mailbox was a very carefully taped up box with Air Mail and Customs info from Australia. Australia? The label indicated “Art Materials:… OH!!!!

It is a thing of beauty!

Then Mom and I went for a shot of holiday spirit at Faddegon’s in Latham.

I took the long way home because it looked like it might be an interesting sunset but also to do an errand or two on the way. When I got home I pulled out my new brush and paint and tried it out.

And then I did this small painting of what I saw on the way home.

Prepping the palettes

Today was the day I sat down with my two “travel” palettes to refill and reorganize. I will be doing a week of plein air over at the Clark at the beginning of October so this will give them a little time to set up and behave. I’m waiting for the Fed Ex guy to arrive with my new tripod, having realized the other night the head on the other one wasn’t working right – it looks like it’s missing a part. It works but doesn’t lock the plate in place. So here’s to v.2.

My goal today is to get it all into a backpack. Come on Fed Ex guy!