Friday, August 12, 2022

Alien Palette


8/7/22 A house behind ours

Trying to stay cool during our second (shorter) heatwave of the summer, I went out on our breezy back deck again (above). Although I keep saying there’s nothing back there to sketch, I somehow manage to come away with something every time, don’t I? I’m not saying it’s a gorgeous work, but if I put some color on the page, that’s good enough for me.

In this case, the color is the alien palette in Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles that I’ve been trying, inspired by Beya Rebaï's Neocolor II sets. Discovering that the palette I had picked out lacked a good blending yellow, I added Olive Yellow (015), which is the closest I could find to Rebaï’s Chinese Green (730) in Neocolor II. It sufficiently warmed up minty Beryl Green (214) for foliage. I do like Prussian Blue (159) for deep shadows and have used it before, though typically in the winter, not the dog days of summer (which, according to the Romans, are led by Sirius rising with the sun, and “the heat from the two stars combined is what made these days the hottest of the year, a period that could bring fever or even catastrophe.” Curious about that expression, I finally looked it up).

Starting to sweat on the deck, I went upstairs and turned on the AC in my studio, but I wanted to continue playing with this palette. Through the window, I noticed that our neighbors had put up several umbrellas to keep the heat away from their southern windows, which gave my sketch a few spots of color. I usually see the Seattle sky as a relatively cool blue, but on this hot afternoon it looked warmer than usual. Turquoise Blue (171) felt right (below).

With an unfamiliar palette on this overly familiar scene, I ended up using all the colors except Vermilion – probably too many colors for a small composition and more than I would typically use. I have to remind myself of the old adage: Just because the colors are in my palette doesn’t mean I have to use them. (It’s not an adage? It should be.)

8/7/22 Familiar view, unfamiliar colors


  1. I'm enjoying your sketches with the alien palette! Like me, you can pretty much find a subject to sketch anywhere.

    1. It's fun using an unusual palette, but I'm still not sure how much I like it!


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