Color Palette Tests: Testing a Different Blue

April 18, 2011

See the full post for discussion of some color tests.

110412FoxAlone Left: A sketch from my imagination, while experimenting with Cobalt blue. Read below for more details.

I'm always creating color swatches and tests of various watercolors and gouache paints in my journals. The other day I had to look something up in my journal and it fell pages before several triad tests in my February 2006 (!) journal.

I had bound a couple journals using Richeson's Stephen Quiller 140 Cold Press Watercolor Paper. It's a lovely paper to paint on and of course I found myself doing nothing but going to meetings while I was working in that journal! (Not quite, but almost.) I was determined to do some work in it and did accomplish that, but I also did some testing.

I was looking at triads with gouache colors I like to use, and other colors I was thinking of substituting. I had a chart for Indigo Blue (my beloved PB60), English Red, and Golden Ochre.

In the next chart I worked with Cobalt for the blue. In still another chart I kept the Cobalt and English Red, but then used Indian Yellow for my third color.

All of the paints I'm referring to now are Schmincke Horadam Gouache (which I purchase from the Italian Art Store, since my local store, much to my chagrin, won't carry it—claiming lack of space and popularity. If only people would wise up and try this paint. It is the absolute best gouache in the world! And another thing, if you are thinking of buying some gouache and these prices look more expensive than other brands I have two points for you: 1. Better Paint, and 2. Larger Tubes.)

I recommend that you do your own tests with these colors. Paint a pure dot of color for each of these colors at the point of a triangle (a red, a yellow, and a blue point), then in between the two points of each side of your triangle blend the two point colors to get mixes, and place dots along that side of the triangle documenting your mixes. At the center of that line will be 50/50. Close to the blue point will be 80B/20Y (percent) while at the yellow end of that line you'll have 80Y/20B. Try to make a graduated line of at least 5 dots between each main point. Repeat for the new pairings on each side of the triangle. You end up with a lovely chart that shows you wonderful possibilites that will all work harmoniously in one painting.

So coming back to my charts the other day, I realized I'd never painted anything (besides the chart) with the Cobalt Blue, Indian Yellow, and English Red. (I usually use Dark Indigo for my blue with those two other paints.)

I was determined to paint with them immediately. I did a quick pencil sketch from my imagination on a sheet of 90 lb. Nostalgie from Hahnemühle. It's a pretty slick surface and my testing pencil with the rectangluar lead just flew over the paper in the most delightful way. The paper isn't for watercolor, but as you can see I stroked the paint on anyway.

I started with a very light mix of Cobalt Blue and Indian Yellow on the sky, more blue than green. Then I worked on the other elements of the picture. When the blue sky was dry I went back over it with dry brush strokes of yellow and titanium white, letting some of the under color poke through. And then I added the orange sun.

I'm not a "draw from imagination" kind of person, and my animal anatomy shows it—the fox/terrier/squirrel—but the main goal of using those paints together was accomplished and I now have several paintings planned, using that color palette. I just hope it doesn't take me another 5 years to get around to them.

Experiment with a new triad today and see where it takes you.

  1. Reply

    LOL! I feel so relieved that you don’t know what kind of animal it is either. I was going ” Aww, what a cutie, but…what IS it?” and my choices were indeed dog, squirrel or fox. 😉

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