Friday, April 18, 2014

Fully Leafed

4/18/14 Platinum Carbon and Diamine Grey inks, Kuretakebrush pen, watercolor, Zig marker,
Canson XL 140 lb. paper 
This slightly asymmetrical maple growing in a traffic circle has become my favorite seasonal sketching tree – the one I track from season to season to watch it change. A few blocks west of my house, it’s easy to walk to on a comfortable day, and there’s plenty of parking if I need to stay in my car. Though not exactly sunny, today was unexpectedly dry, so I took a short walk to sketch it, now fully in leaf. Since I could stand anywhere instead of staying in the car, I took a slightly different angle this time. Here are the other three times I’ve sketched it:

Technical notes: Today’s tree might be something of a small watercolor milestone: I think I’m finally ready to ditch the sap green paint that has been in my palette for probably a year (preceded by various other greens before that). I used to depend on greens from the tube, at least to get me started in a mix and sometimes entirely. But the longer I sketch, the braver I become in mixing my own greens from various combinations of blues and yellows (with uneven success). I used to think it was the blue that was critical, but now I’m finally learning that it’s the yellow that makes the difference between an OK green, a really muddy one or a vibrant one.

All the greens in today’s sketch were made with varying combinations of nickel azo yellow (which I learned about from Stephanie Bower), Quinacridone Gold, French Ultramarine or Indigo. Not a touch of that sap green was used. It hasn’t been used in quite a while, but I left it in my palette as a security blanket. I’m ditching it – and maybe I’ll replace it with something more useful.

On a similar subject, I’ve been using cobalt blue the past month since Stephanie’s workshop also, but I’m not convinced it’s useful. I like it when I need a clear blue sky, but I could also use Ultramarine for that. (Let’s face it: I’ve had few opportunities to paint clear blue skies!) I might ditch the cobalt, too, and then I’ll have two vacant spaces in my paint box for something else. Or maybe I’ll decide that six paints is all I need! With the two ditched colors, here’s what’s in my palette:

Alizarin Crimson (WN)
Quinacridone Sienna (DS)
French Ultramarine (WN)
Indigo (WN)
Nickel Azo Yellow (WN)
Quinacridone Gold (DS)

Any suggestions on one or two really useful colors to add?

1 comment:

  1. Leaves? Lucky you. Most of our trees haven't even started exposing buds.

    As for colors, I mostly carry only 6 as you describe. I'm not familiar with Quin Sienna but assume it to be similar to my W&N Burnt Sienna. My 12-color palette still has Sap Green on it and I find it handy for darkening reds. Truly a 'convenience' sort of thing but having complements to the primaries (orange, violet and green) are handy if you want more colors. I'm sort of simple-minded when it comes to such things to learning how to manipulate half a dozen colors seems to give me more flexibility than throwing a large palette at the same problem.

    Cheers --- Larry


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