Monday, 1 September 2014

Watercolour Swatches on my website.

I have been making painted swatches of all the watercolours I have tried and am finally adding them to my website.

Each swatch is as pictured - with a coloured wash into wet paper, then a 'juicy' wash on dry paper below

You can see them here. Click on any swatch to see the full card. Hover to see the paint name, manufacturer and pigment number.

There are hundreds to go but I have made a start. If there is a colour you hope to see, let me know and I'll add it if I have it.

Paint samples to add are also welcome :-) Contact me here.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Colour exploration - a single pigment colour wheel


My sketch books have been busy!

Below is a colour wheel painted out in only single pigment colours. Some are not quite ideal, and not all are necessary, but an interesting exercise to do.

  • Ultramarine Violet in the 5.30 position is very weak in Daniel Smith. Another brand may be better.
  • Amethyst Genuine could go in the 5.30 spot instead, but is very dark and neutralised. 
  • Indanthrone Blue in the 4.30 position is also a neutralised blue. 
  • Cobalt Turquoise in 2.30 is not as bright and powerful as a mix of Phthalo blue and Phthalo green would be, and is more opaque and granulating but I love it!  Amazonite genuine is a more transparent alternative.
  • Cobalt Green in 1.30 would be better replaced with phthalo green YS.
  • In the 11.30 position I have placed New Gamboge, but have mixed Quinacridone Gold below as that's my favourite warm yellow.
  • Quin Rose in 7.30 could equally be Quin Magenta PR122.
Notice the two triangles in the middle connect the primary triad Hansa Yellow Medium, Ultramarine and Pyrrol Crimson and the secondary triad Benzamida orange, Phthalo Green and Carbazole Violet. Together they make fantastic 6 colour palette seen here.


Each of these pairs opposite each other on the wheel neutralise each other to a grey or black, creating a huge range of earth and tertiary colours, with the exception of the yellow greens and the red purples.

Here they are painted out in pairs.


3 - lovely deep greys

12 - don't neutralise each other to grey. good for orchids!


1 makes raw umber hues

2 neither ultramarine violet nor Smalt a perfect combination. Try amethyst?

4 Lovely orange earth colours


5 Indigo and red earth hues

6 Orange earth hues


7 Indian red and venetian red hues

8 Deep greens and greys

9 Black, grey, plum, aubergines


10 Lovely purples and deep greens

11 not so interesting.



I don't tend to work with a palette of pure bright colours as I love the earth pigments, but it's fascinating to see where they all fit into the palette.

Colour exploration - Super bright 6 colour palettes


Once again I have been exploring palettes with no earth colours but this time using neutralising pairs. Here are a couple of gorgeous bright palettes to consider. 

The first is based on my gorgeous bright quartet, posted here. I have added Phthalo Green YS PG36 which neutralises purple magenta to a grey, though not a black. I have also added Carbazole Violet which neutralises Hansa Yellow Medium to create yellow earth hues and raw umber hues, as well as the lovely neutralising blue and orange pair. So the palette contains one of each primary and one of each secondary in neutralising pairs. They are quite neatly arranged around the colour wheel, though not completely evenly.

Super bright 6 colour palettes
The second set switches Purple magenta to Carmine (or better yet a crimson such as Pyrrol Crimson or Permanent Alizarin). This will neutralise with phthalo green BS to a black and a whole range of lovely aubergine and plum colours. That combination is why I tend to have a crimson in my palette. Ultramarine is my favourite blue for painting and is completely neutralised by the orange as seen here. The yellow and purple neutralise each other as noted above. (see these and other neutralising pairs here.) Notice how evenly the colours fit around the colour wheel. I think this would be the brightest, most balanced 6 colour set I could find. See this star set of colours on the full colour wheel here.



Monday, 25 August 2014

Plein Air watercolour Sketching Workshop

Feel like coming to a Plein Air Workshop this Friday?

If you are in Sydney I'd love to see you there.
For bookings check this link
http://www.artest.com.au/ArtEst.WeekendWorkshopsandMasterclassesforadults2014.html

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Ultramarine, Mid yellow and Magenta - a gorgeous basic bright triad with Ultramarine.

I wrote a post about this set here in May 2013. I wanted to have another look at them, so here is the amazing range you can get with Ultramarine Finest Schmincke PB29, Purple Magenta PR122 Schmincke and Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 Daniel Smith, though Schmincke Pure Yellow would do the same thing. Or if using W&N, Winsor Yellow, the more granulating French Ultramarine and Quinacridone Magenta.
If you want to add a 4th to create neutral browns and greys more quickly, add an orange - a bright orange as seen here or a Burnt Sienna as seen here

Other Burnt Sienna options are shown here

This is an alternative to the beautiful bright quartet using Phthalo Blue Red Shade shown here.

Alternative primary red options are the more crimson W&N Permanent Alizarin, DS Carmine or DV Permanent Alizarin Quinacridone. I prefer the more crimson primary reds, but nothing I have used mixes cleaner than PR122.

Ultramarine and Oranges - looking for a neutralising pair.

My previous post showed what is possible with a quartet of transparent non-granulating colours based around Phthalo Blue RS and Transparent Pyrrol Orange D.S. See here

But what if you don't mind granulation and love Ultramarine but still want a really bright limited palette?

In these sketch book tests I was looking for an orange to neutralise with Ultramarine to create blacks, greys, deep blues and browns the way Burnt Sienna does.

Row 1 - a tiny dot sample of W&N new limited edition Transparent Orange PO171with their limited edition Phthalo Saphhire which is very like Phthalo blue RS. This mix makes greens rather than greys and black.

Row 2 - W&N Transparent Orange mixed with DS Ultramarine. This looks promising but I ran out of my dots sample! I'll add to this if I get some more. It is a lovely orange, though incredibly similar to the Schmincke PO71 version :-)

On the right is the more red Transparent Pyrrol Orange DS - made from the same PO71 as Schmincke Transparent Orange seen in row 3, but, as is often the case, it doesn't mix in the same way. It is so important to know the brand, colour name AND pigment numbers to be able to match a particular paint mix.

Row 3 - W&N Phthalo Sapphire next to DS Phthalo Blue RS - you can see how similar they are. Then Schmincke Transparent Orange and DV Benzimida Orange PO36 which are also very similar though perhaps the Benzimida Orange is cleaner and slightly less yellow? I then mixed Benzimida Orange with Ultramarine - creates a wonderful range of earthy browns, greys, black and deep blues :-) Very similar to the mixes I get using Burnt Sienna and ultramarine.

4 - Ultramarine blue mixed with Schmincke Transparent Orange. These are also lovely lively colours with a hint more yellow perhaps.

5 - Phthalo Blue RS with Benzamida Orange and they don't neutralise, though they do produce lovely greens. (even better with Phthalo blue GS!)

So the perfect neutralising bright orange for DS ultramarine seems to be Da Vinci Benzamida Orange or Schmincke Transparent Orange with W&N Transparent orange looking promising. Three different pigments, three very similar colours.

Would they be the same with other brands of Ultramarine?
Below is Ultramarine Finest and Transparent Orange, both Schmincke. Lovely.
The second row is DaVinci Ultramarine Blue with DV Benzamida Orange - same as with DS
Oranges and ultramarine blues, different brands.
Next is DS Ultramarine with Schmincke Transparent Orange and finally DS ultramarine with Benzamida orange again.

Schmincke Transparent orange has a slightly more golden glow, so adds a slightly green cast to the neutrals.

To see Ultramarine mixed with Purple Magenta and Hansa Yellow medium, click here


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Colour exploration - 4 bright, non-granulating watercolours - an amazing quartet. (updated)

I have been exploring limited palette options again and came up with this set. This is an unusual palette of watercolours for me as it doesn't contain Ultramarine, my favourite blue, or Burnt Sienna, my favourite earth orange, and it does contain Quinacridone Magenta though that is not a favourite! I find it a difficult 'real world' colour and would generally rather use a rose or crimson. However, PR122 is an amazing mixing colour which, like phthalo green, can transform other colours beautifully and mixes very cleanly but is best not used alone.

This quartet of colours is designed to be transparent, bright and non granulating - a bit like working with inks - and works beautifully!

It is based around a fabulous pair of transparent watercolours - Transparent Pyrrol Orange DS and Phthalo Blue RS DS. These neutralise each other completely to create a fantastic range of greys, black, warm browns and burnt oranges. See the first colour mixing row 1.

Other manufacturers make Phthalo blue RS (or Winsor Blue RS) but I have not found an alternative brand for this orange. Schmincke make Translucent Orange with the same pigment but it is not as red. (see separate post on oranges and blues)

Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 Daniel Smith, Purple Magenta PR122 Schmincke, Phthalo Blue R.S. PB15 Daniel Smith and Transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71 Daniel Smith.
To make oranges and greens a mid yellow is added - Hansa Yellow Medium PY97 DS, though it could be Schmincke Pure Yellow or W&N Winsor Yellow or DV Hansa/Arylide Yellow Medium. This is a lovely bright yellow.

2 -  Hansa Yellow Medium mixed with Transparent Pyrrol Orange PO71 DS 

4 - Hansa Yellow Medium mixed with Phthalo Blue RS PB15 DS to make bright greens. 

To make purples and reds and crimsons the very bright Magenta PR122 is required. This is not made by Daniel Smith (I often wonderful why not) but is available as Purple Magenta by Schmincke or Quinacridone Magenta in many other brands including W&N, Daler Rowney and Old Holland. I prefer the Schmincke version. 

3 - Mixed with the DS Transparent Pyrrol Orange it creates gorgeous reds and crimsons 

5 - Mixed with Phthalo Blue RS it makes amazing purples  

6 - I mixed Purple Magenta with Yellow as they also make wonderful oranges, reds and crimsons. 

You can see how easy it is to create bright mixes of oranges, greens and purples. 

7 - I then added a little magenta to the Phthalo Blue RS to create a warmer blue, which made more neutral greens when yellow was added 

8 - I did the same thing adding some Transparent Pyrrol Orange to the yellow to made it warmer, then adding the blue to make more mossy greens 

9 - The last row is all three primaries mixed together to create a range of darks and neutral earth hues.

Another very bright transparent and no-granulating pigment is Phthalo Green PG7. I use this for many mixes, especially to make a rich black with a crimson. I mixed it with the Purple Magenta (1 below) to see if it would neutralise to black. Like Quinacridone Rose, it makes great purples but not black. 

Mixes with my amazing quartet along with Phthalo Green PR7.
2 -  I mixed a crimson hue by mixing Transparent Pyrrol Orange with Purple Magenta, then mixed that crimson with Phthalo Green and yes - blacks and aubergines are possible. 

3 - back to my bright quartet colours, I tested the yellow to see what earth yellows I could create just with my initial 4 colours. Alone mixed with a purple made from the blue and magenta, hansa yellow medium creates some interesting cool earth colours. 

4 - With a little orange added Hansa Yellow Medium creates yellow ochre and raw sienna hues and some raw umber options.

5 - I tried mixing a crimson from the magenta and orange then creating a phthalo green hue to try to create the same aubergine and black options. It comes close, though required all four pigments. I try to steer away from 4 pigment mixes but it is possible. 

So I think a phthalo green is a useful addition if you want to limit yourself to three pigment mixes but increase to 5 bright transparent colours. Phthalo Green yellow shade would be the best option as it neutralises magenta to a grey. And if you want a 6th? A purple is the obvious choice for a balanced palette. Such lovely sets of 6 can be seen here, but as purple is very easy to mix, I'd rather add Quinacridone Gold DS :-)

My next tests will be with Ultramarine instead of Phthalo Blue RS to see if I can find a completely neutralising bright orange........ see here.

Happy painting!