Monday, May 29, 2023

Flying Abstract Colors


5/27/23 Flags at Sunset Hills Memorial Park, Bellevue

We use Memorial Day weekend each year both to pay respects at family gravesites and to express gratitude to all who gave their lives in service to our country. Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Bellevue always puts out a glorious display of flags. They are among the most frustrating of subject matter to sketch – constantly moving, even in a slight breeze, their amorphous, fluid shapes a blur of red, white and blue. Usually I try to capture them fairly literally, but this time I took a more abstract, symbolic approach. After all, the flag itself is an abstract symbol of the freedom we take for granted most of the time and of the enormous price that has been paid for that freedom.

Process notes: Ever since I became enamored with the CYMK-based primary triad, I haven’t carried Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle Scarlet Red (070) and Dark Ultramarine (640), which had always been my standby “flag colors” (I’ve never been completely happy with Scarlet, but it’s the closest I could find in the Museum line). As I just got through saying, the flag is an abstract symbol, so it might have been interesting to see how the stars and stripes would have looked represented by magenta + yellow and cyan. But on my way out the door to the cemetery, I grabbed Scarlet and Dark Ultramarine anyway. Colors are also abstract symbols, but some are more important than others. Even if my marks expressing flags are less than literal, it seemed important to me that the colors be “right.”

But you know me. When I got home, I became curious: How would the flag look using my basic Museum CYM (Phthalocyanine Blue 162, Lemon Yellow 240, Purplish Red 350) hues? Shown at right are the CYM flying colors.


  1. Your triad works for the flag. They are so hard to capture. Just when you think you have the shape right it moves ever so slightly in the breeze and looks totally different.

    1. Yes, I was pleased to see that I could use this triad for the flag, but it's harder to be loose with the strokes if I want to blend the colors completely.


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