Saturday, June 18, 2022

Summer Palette Refresh, Triad 2


6/14/22 Maple Leaf neighborhood (new primary triad 2)

Caran d'Ache Museum Aquarelle primary triad 2

Yesterday I showed one of two primary triads I am trying out for summer. Here’s the second one. The only difference between this one and yesterday’s is the blue, which is a warmer Caran d’Ache Turquoise Blue (171).

The sketch above posed several interesting color challenges. First, I am still getting to know this triad, which is noticeably warmer than the other one I’m trying (and much warmer than my favorite CMYK triad). Second, the day was overcast again, and from the angle I chose, the subdued light  illuminated both sides of the house nearly equally with very little difference in value in the roof angles. Finally, the two yellow caution diamonds were also nearly equally illuminated, but I wanted to show one at a right angle to the other.

As I pondered the roof, I suddenly remembered color temperature! I haven’t been focusing on color temperature since I started the composition challenge, but things I learned from Sarah Bixler’s workshops and Ian Roberts’ videos popped into my head: If I make a hue warmer, it appears closer to the light, even if the value differences are slight. With colored pencils, it’s easy enough to add a bit more yellow to warm up the slightly more illuminated side.

Much warmer primary triad 2

As for the two caution diamonds, I applied the same principle, but probably went overboard. I made one diamond cooler and therefore slightly less illuminated, but it got darker than I had intended.  

One additional challenge was the ultra-tiny spritzer that I keep in my small walking bag (it’s the perfume atomizer shown in this post). It’s much harder to target the water output compared to my favorite spritzer (also shown in that post), but I like its small size, so I tolerate it. I over-spritzed the page in a couple of places, and I also had to use a thumb or a hand as a mask to keep from over-spraying areas that I wanted to keep dry. But as all watercolor painters know, it’s best to embrace the out-of-controlness of water media instead of trying to manage it!

Rare bird observed in the wild! (Photo by Mariah)

As I was happily sketching, a woman walking by was surprised to realize what I was doing. She was familiar with plein air painting (“with the easel and palette and all that”), but urban sketching was new to her. She was so delighted that she asked to take my photo (and I asked her to take one with my phone, too). I know so many urban sketchers that I always feel like we are everywhere all the time, but I guess we are still a rare bird that average pedestrians are surprised to encounter in the wild.


  1. Have with your new palette. I'm sure you'll reach new grounds and shake up your habits with it

    1. Thanks! Not sure I'm in love with this triad, but I'll keep working with it!


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