Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Watercolor Palette

Paris in Spring
11" x 15" Mats to 16" x 20"

Spring - The Seasonal Palette
The green shades of spring are exceptionally fresh and vibrant. To capture the colors of spring in your paintings, color mixing should be kept to a minimum. Remember the more colors you mix together, the duller and more subdued the resulting color will be. For the spring palette, it is a good idea to limit your color mixing to only 3 colors. For example, most spring greens can be mixed from a simple 2 color mix of one blue and one yellow. Also, consider using a “purchased” green for some of the greens in a spring landscape.

The majority of greens found in a spring landscape consist of a lot of yellow. Early spring flowers are predominately yellow. For the first fresh leaves of spring, grass and flower, yellow is the most significant color on the spring palette.

Spring Palette Colors:

• Sap Green

• Ultramarine

• Viridian

• Cerulean blue

• Phthalo Blue

• Cadmium Yellow Pale (cool yellow)

• Cadmium Yellow Deep (golden yellow)

• Lemon Yellow (cool yellow)

• Indian Yellow (golden yellow)

• Yellow Ochre (golden yellow)

 Color Mixes:

• Cadmium lemon + Ultramarine = Cool, fresh green…..good for flowerbeds

• Diluted viridian can be used to add bluish- green texture (good for shadows and shaded areas in foliage)

• Cadmium yellow + cerulean blue = Bright, sharp green for foreground foliage

• Yellow ochre + Phthalo blue = dull green for dark-leaved trees

Important Yellows

Cool, acid yellows are particularly useful for springtime because when mixed with blue, they create sharp greens characteristic of fresh leaves. The coolest yellows are those with a blue bias: lemon yellow, cadmium yellow pale, cadmium lemon. Depending on the blues theses yellow are mixed with, these yellows will produce a range of cool, vivid greens found in a spring landscape.

Golden yellow (those with a red bias) produce warm or subtle greens, depending on the choice of blue. These golden yellows include cadmium yellow deep, Indian yellow, and yellow ochre.

Spring Blues

The blues used are primarily ultramarine, cerulean blue and Phthalo blue. These blues are used for sky as well as mixing with yellows to create spring shades of green.

Purchased or Premixed Greens

Self-mixed greens are usually easier to integrate into a landscape than a single color of a premixed green. However, spring foliage is often so bright that it is important to have that color stand out, rather than simply blend in. In this case, purchased greens are great in a spring landscape. However, purchased greens can be mixed with blues and yellows to blend foliage.

The following are examples of purchased greens that work well in the spring landscape:

• Sap green

• Viridian (use in limited quantities as this color can dominate a scene)

Spring sunlight is usual low which make the colors appear particularly bright and luminous. With watercolor, you can capture this translucent effect perfectly by applying paint in a thin layer so that the white paper shows through the wash of color. Avoid using white paint in a spring landscape. The chalky effect of white paint is particularly unwelcome when you want to capture the fresh, sunny colors of spring. To create white flowers and highlights, leave patches of unpainted white paper.

Happy Painting!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Daylight Savings Time - What It Means to an Artist!

Spring Smile
Watercolor 9" x 12" Mats to 14" x 16"

Daylight savings time starts tomorrow!  Although I don't enjoy "losing" that hour's sleep when our clock's spring forward, I do enjoy the end result - later sunsets!  Even though the number of daylight hours don't change with daylight savings time,  the daylight hours are found on the clock at a time when I can better use them. 

What does that mean to an artist?   Well, to me, it means that I have more daylight hours when I am awake to paint.  (It also gives me more time for yard work which will soon be needed with the coming of Spring.....but that is another story!)  There is just "something" about natural light when painting. 

March 20th is the first day of Spring, but I am already working on spring paintings and preparing my lesson plans for teaching the "spring palette."    I'll discuss the spring palette in upcoming blogs.  But, as you are outside the next week, take a look around at what's blooming in your area...even if it is weeds.  What is the dominate color?

Until next blog....take a nap and rest up for "springing forward!"

Happy Painting!