A Watercolor Sketch of My Palette

I thought it would be a fun project to create a sketch of my watercolor palette that I’m currently using.

I did a blog post a little over a year ago on how I filled my half pans. You can find my post here.

The mixing areas of my palette still looks fairly new. That’s because I enjoy using my porcelain tray to mix my colors in. When I’m at my studio desk, I have a bit more room to accommodate this larger palette and my porcelain mixing tray. I can also create larger pieces of artwork and my mixing tray can hold a bit more paint.

I’ve decided to stick with this one palette for the next week or two and get reacquainted with the paint colors and get my palette a bit dirty. This will help me figure out what colors I want to keep for a scaled down palette of colors for urban sketching.

Palette: Meeden Empty Watercolor Tin Box Palette Paint Case with 24 piece half pans

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (15ml tubes)

Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in size 6

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in size 6″x8″

Back into My Watercolor Paints

Sometimes I just have to let go and see where my creative juices flow. Right now, it’s creating some artwork using my watercolor paints. I’m thankful for my sketching muscle memory and for having the ability to sketch quickly and spend more time painting.

It’s been a year since I last picked up my paint brush. My recent painting was from the previous post where I used my Sennelier paint set and created the teal pumpkin. That was my practice painting session to see if I could create something with my brush.

My watercolor mojo is back and I’m taking advantage of this wonderful creative moment by sketching more pumpkins. I remind myself to use less water and patiently build the layers of colors. Also, to sit back and let my painting breathe a bit and not overdo my artwork with too many layers.

For this painting, I used my favorite Daniel Smith Watercolor paints. I used a generic 24-pan set where I squeezed my tubes of paint into the pans. I wrote a post about this process and you can find it here. I also used my favorite brushes from Cheap Joe’s.

For the main body of my pumpkins, I decided not to mix any colors and just use the colors from my pans. I went with Quinacridone Coral, Quinacridone Sienna, and Pyrrol Scarlet. For the stems, I used Quinacridone Gold for the base layer. I created a browny mix using Ultramarine Blue and Raw Sienna and used it to darken the stems.

For the shadows under the pumpkins, I used the browny mix from the stems and added a bit more Ultramarine Blue. I also added a dab of paint color I used from the pumpkin’s base color.

I tried to remember all the watercolor tips and past painting skills I developed and I have to say it all came back quickly.

Just for fun, I used an inexpensive watercolor pad of paper that I found at Hobby Lobby. I liked the size of the paper and I thought I would give it a try. I was surprised at how well it handled the layers of water and paint I laid down.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor Paints

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Synthetic Travel Brush in sizes 6 & 8

Paper: Master’s Touch Fine Art Studio Watercolor 140lb cold press paper in 6″x8″

Pumpkins & Acorns in Watercolor

I finally finished my watercolor painting. I know from my previous post I was rather vague or did not show a complete picture of my artwork. I was testing out a new watercolor paper (journal) from Franklin-Christoph and wanted to see how well the paper held up to the copious amount of water and paint I used. Here is my setup from this morning:

The last few layers of colors involved adding the shadows underneath the objects. Before my pumpkins looked as though they were floating on the paper. Now, they should look a bit more grounded. That’s what I was hoping for.

I also added a bit more color to the curve of the objects to make them look rounded and give more depth.

To keep a consistent feel in my artwork, I used my favorite yellow color called Nickel Azo Yellow to mix the final paint colors. I mixed that yellow paint with Alizarin Crimson to create a soft orange color. I mixed the same yellow with Cascade Green (fave color) to create a pretty olive green color. I do enjoy mixing colors together to see the cool surprises I can create. Like creating the olive green color.

You can see in my middle pumpkin I used the orange with a bit of green (colors used from the other two pumpkins) to create a bit of harmony in my painting. While I was thinking about this, I also added a bit of orange to the green pumpkin.

For the acorns I included both orange and green colors since they sit in between the orange and green pumpkins.

For the shadows, I used Neutral Tint in the darker areas and added dabs of the associated pumpkins colors to show a bit of its reflective color. I use this technique quite a bit in both of my pen & ink and watercolor artwork.

Another composition item I think about while planning my artwork is numbers or quantity. Odd numbers make an artwork look visually pleasing. It also forces your eyes to move around the artwork. I also think about odd numbers when I take my pictures.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time using this watercolor journal. There’s over a dozen layers of colors and the paper has held up well. No noticeable ripples on the backside of the paper. Love this bound watercolor journal concept with 100% cotton paper. It fits nicely in my Franklin-Christoph VN Vagabond NWF Notebook Cover or a normal traveler’s notebook cover. This journal size is about 4.3″x 8.25″.

Remember I mentioned the epiphany I had in my previous post? It was about using less water in my watercolor paintings. This made a huge difference especially when using this new journal paper. I did notice when I used too much water, the paper would produce spots in the overly wet areas. You can see it on the orange pumpkin (far left).

My favorite watercolor paper is Arches and I’ve never had any issues with that paper brand. I wished Arches still created a journal with their papers. I have one from early 2000 that I stumbled across and will eventually use it (when I get better). In the meantime, F-C’s journal is perfect for my practice and to take along with me on my travels.

In regards to using this paper with fountain pen inks, I have done a few test sketches and I’m not too happy with the results. I might need to spend another week and perhaps change up my pen & ink techniques to see if this paper changes my mind. I will definitely be back to share my thoughts on this and also a few pictures and let you, my readers, decide how to use this journal with pen and inks.

My paper thoughts: Does a decent job with watercolor paints

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Brushes: Cheap Joes American Journey Round #2, #4, and #6

Palettes: Art Toolkit by Expeditionary Art Folio Palette (large) with paint pans and Pocket Palette (regular) with mixing pans

Journal Cover: Franklin-Christoph VN Vagabond NWF Notebook Cover

Watercolor Journal: Franklin-Christoph VN Watercolor Refill

Watercolor Epiphany!

I’ve been struggling with watercolor painting. I was not getting the instant gratification like I would receive when I completed a pen & ink sketch. My watercolor creations were just mediocre and appeared lifeless. I felt as though I was in an endless loop of creating some paintings and then never completing them. I would also fall back to creating my artwork using my trusty fountain pens and inks.

Today I had an overwhelming desire to do a watercolor painting. Several things came into play with this desire. First, I had received the new Franklin-Christoph watercolor journals and could not wait to try this paper out. This new journal can be used with watercolors, guache, and pen and inks. I thought I would start out testing this paper with my watercolor paints and then do another test using my fountain pens and ink. A review will be forthcoming later this week.

Second, I had just completed a few pen & ink sketches of pumpkins and acorns and I wanted to see what I could do using my watercolor paints. That would require some color mixing techniques as well playing with different colors which I enjoy doing.

I spent less time thinking about the process (a good thing) and just started sketching with my pencil. Next thing I knew I was mixing paint colors and then applying paint to paper.

Somewhere along the layers of paint I was laying down, I experienced a huge epiphany in what I was doing. I used smaller round brushes like #6 and #4. I used less water in mixing and wetting my paper. My painting came to life.

Here’s a sneak peak from this morning’s session. I know it’s a partial shot of my painting. It’s still a work in progress.

At this point, I’m really happy about what I uncovered and I feel as though I can move forward in this creative adventure.

I had another realization this morning. I was mixing my watercolor paints and creating colors that I currently have in my TWSBI GO fountain pens. I am having too much fun!

I’m Here!

It was 28 days ago when I last wrote an entry on my blog. Since then I’ve been radio silent and you were probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Right? Maybe? Hahaha!

For the whole month of September I felt like I’ve been running non-stop. I had appointments, projects, and deadlines to take care of. I had out of town relatives stop by for a visit and ended up needing my assistance and staying a bit longer. As always, it was great to catch up and spend time with them. The next thing I knew September came and went.

On the creative side of life I have been keeping up with my artistic hobbies.

I have been busy practicing my not-quite Copperplate handwriting using my Opus 88 Omar with the lovely Stylosuite EF Xwing Harpoon nib. I’ve noticed my hand and arm movements are more free flowing and not as jerky as before. I’m now dabbling into creating my own style of writing and adding flourishes.

I’ve been keeping up with my pen and ink wash art. I’ve been practicing and creating sketches of grapes. For some reason grapes have been tripping me up. In the past, I’ve started my sketches and never finished them. I decided to break down my “grape picture” I’ve been working on and just focus on a few grapes versus huge clusters of them surrounded by vines and leaves.

Here’s my pen and ink wash version:

While I was on this “grape” adventure, I decided to break out my watercolor paints and see what I could do. It’s still a work in progress and I need to tackle the leaves.

My watercolor grapes took a few hours to create as I was working in layers of colors. Each layer had to dry completely before I could add another layer of color on top. I love watercolor painting, but I rarely have blocks of hours to devote to a painting. I think that is why I enjoy using my fountain pens and inks for sketching as I can quickly get bold and vivid colors and instantaneous results.

Before I forget, I found a new toy. I managed to snag a fantastic deal on a Cricut machine. So now my baby Joy has a big sister the Maker.

I procured some sample paper packs and I immediately created some stickers from my artwork. This is still a work in progress as I’m testing out different brands and types of papers. Can you tell? I’m having way too much fun!

I’ll be back with more artwork, new inks, and other interesting finds that I forgot to mention. Be well and stay safe!

Blueberry pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Tokyo Blue Denim, Eucalyptus Leaf, and Thunderstorm

Grape pen & ink sketch: Robert Oster Sydney Lavender & Melon Tea. Van Dieman’s Ink Beetroot Relish and Eucalyptus Regnans. Jacques Herbin Amethyste de l’Oural and Vert Atlantide.

The Art Toolkit – Folio Palette

I came across what I would call the ultimate portable palette. It’s called the Folio Palette from Art Toolkit.

It looks like one of my other pocket palettes, right? This folio palette is actually a larger version that holds more pans of colors. Some folks actually use it on their desk/table and then take the pocket version for travel or plein air painting.

Here’s a picture that shows the size comparisons. On the left is the regular Pocket Palette. On the right is the new Folio Palette.

There is quite a difference in the size. To give you an idea, the Pocket Palette holds 14 standard (small rectangle) pans while the Folio Palette can hold 30 standard pans.

Here’s a picture from an earlier post in regards to the different pan sizes.

Here’s the care and maintenance instructions for the Art Toolkit’s palettes.

Along with the new palette size, there is also a new XL mixing pan. It’s their largest square size mixing pan.

My Folio Palette came with these assorted pan sizes

Remember my “mini doodle kit” metal container that I reused to store all of my metal pans of paint? Well, here it is next to the Folio Palette.

I was able to fill my Folio with all the pans I had filled previously. I like having a larger mixing space.

If I need additional mixing space, I can always reuse one of my Pocket Palettes as a mixing palette.

My Pocket Palette with a standard mixing pan and the new XL mixing pan

Once I’m done with my current projects, I hope to get back into watercolor painting and actually use my new palette.

Filling My Half Pans With Paint

I had found a few empty half pan palettes sitting in my storage bin waiting to be filled with paint. I hate to see an empty palette not being used. I pulled out my 24-pan palette case and decided to fill them with my tubes of Daniel Smith colors.

Look at all the lovely colors!

I sorted through my tubes of paints and selected my must use colors. I took my empty half pans and labelled each one with the paint I was going to fill them with. Then I arranged the tubes of paint according to how I was going to arrange them in my palette case. I started with my primary cool and warm colors in yellows, reds, and blues.

My half pans waiting to be filled

I used the smallest Avery labels I could find and wrote out the color names using my Platinum Preppy with Carbon (permanent) ink.

I spent a little over an hour filling my half pans with paint. I tapped the sides and corners of the pans to get the paint to move around and spread out to the corners and edges.

The initial fill can be a bit lumpy
Tapping the sides and corners will spread the paint in the pan
The last sharp tap on the bottom of the pan smooths out the paint in the pan

I let my pans sit in the palette case to dry overnight. The paint will shrink along the edges and a few may crack as they settle into the pan and dry. I could tell that the first few pans I filled were not as full.

I pulled out a few pans that had shrunk quite a bit and filled them with a second layer of paint. My New Gamboge pan was a good candidate for another fill.

My pans requiring a 2nd layer of paint
The 2nd layer of color added and more tapping
Here’s a pan with a crack or separation in the paint
A quick fill and a few taps….
A few of my pans after adding the second layer of paint
My lovely 24 pans of color

To keep the dried paint from falling out of their pans later, I made sure the paint touched the corners as well as the bottom of the pan. That’s why I spent some time tapping the pans to get the paint to settle.

I started to notice some colors (e.g. Phthalo) will stain the metal palettes.

This palette has become a favorite of mine. It has generous mixing areas and I have the ability to swap around the pans to fit my painting style.

Yes, my 24-pan palette is a bright pink color! I plan on decorating it and using my Cricut Joy to add some personalized vinyl stickers.

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Palette: Meeden 24-pan watercolor palette

One Idea – Using Two Mediums

I’m a bit behind in blogging about my watercolor adventures as I’ve been busy focusing on my pen and ink adventures. Today, I will be sharing my two paintings I created with the same beach theme: water and sand.

I was in the mood to spend some time with my watercolor paints and my Escoda brushes and to quickly create a painting using the wet-on-wet technique.

I pulled out my Arches journal that I created a few weeks ago. I had taken my 9×12 paper pad and cut the paper in half. I then punched the holes using my disc punch and bound them with my discs. This gives me the ability to reorganize my paintings, remove bad pieces of artwork, and move my swatch page of colors around in my journal.

To create a nice border around my painting, I used blue painter’s tape to create a frame around my painting.

I wet my paper using my Escoda #10 Ultimo (synthetic squirrel) brush. This soft brush holds a lot of water and I was able to cover my paper with water quickly. To create the “water” in my painting, I used Cerulean and Phthalo Turquoise. To create the white caps in the waves, I used a clean damp brush and lifted out the colors.

To create the beach or sand, I used my Escoda #8 Versatil (synthetic Kolinsky sable) brush and created the first layer of color using Quinacridone Gold. While the paint was still wet, I also applied Burnt Sienna to the dark areas of the beach.

While I was taking a break, I had a brilliant idea to re-create this using just my fountain pens and inks.

I used my blue painter’s tape to create a clean frame around my sketch. The following picture shows three TWSBI GOs filled with Honey Bee, Glassmith, and Lucia inks. I actually used two additional colors to create this pen and ink art: African Gold and Sydney Darling Harbour.

To create the white caps on the waves, I used my gel pen with white ink to put in the highlights.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time today creating some artwork. I pushed myself to create two paintings while using two different mediums. I also challenged myself to create a “painting” using my fountain pens and inks. I’m having too much fun!

Watercolor supplies:

Brushes: Escoda #10 Ultimo (synthetic squirrel) and Escoda #8 Versatil (synthetic Kolinsky sable) travel brushes

Paints: Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Sienna, Cerulean Blue Chromium, and Phthalo Turquoise

Paper: Arches Cold Press 300gsm

Pen & Ink supplies:

Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs and Medium nib

Inks: Birmingham Glassmith. Vinta Inks Lucia. Robert Oster Honey Bee, Sydney Darling Harbour, and African Gold

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta A5

Loosely

That’s how I’ve been practicing my painting skills recently. Trying to paint without thinking about the details too much. No initial pencil sketching allowed. Just starting with blank sheets of watercolor paper.

The lovely purple paint is a mixture of Quinacridone Rose and Ultramarine Blue.

My first two attempts below were just okay. It allowed me to figure out a different painting style and to paint quickly.

Unfortunately, I only had a few minutes of pure painting enjoyment before I had to go tackle a few other projects that are not art related. More to come!

Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor

Paper: Arches Cold Press 100% cotton 140 lb

Brushes: Cheap Joe’s American Journey #6 & #8

Painting a Sea Shell Card and My DIY Watercolor Paint Palette Case

I collected a few sea shells from Hubby’s glass jar and I wanted to paint a special card for him. I spent a few minutes painting a practice piece and to warm up my fingers and hand.

My practice sketch and palette cases of colors

For the actual card, I decided not sketch the outlines with my carbon ink and fountain pen and instead used my watercolor paints to create the sea shells. I also added some shimmering colors over the shells to make them “pop” on the paper.

A simple card for Hubby

If you noticed in my pictures, I had a few of my pocket palette cases sitting on my desk where I was grabbing various paint colors and mixing them in my porcelain palette. I spent way too much time creating this card and found myself stopping and pausing while I was looking for colors across several palettes.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my processes or steps. What can I do to improve my prep or setup time before I paint? Or how can I consolidate my pans of paint into one case?

I realized I needed a larger metal palette case to hold my frequently used watercolor pans.

I was digging around my studio and saw a nice size metal case that contained a mini doodle kit I had received as a gift a few years ago. I enjoy reusing what I have and repurposing for my current needs. I knew this metal case would be large enough to hold all the colors I needed and still be portable.

My mini doodle case repurposed as a watercolor palette

Once I removed all the included art pencils, accessories, and the plastic tray I was left with an empty metal tin case. I measured the bottom of the case and started to research something called “magnetic sheets”. I started with adhesive magnetic sheets and decided the adhesive was not be an added bonus and more of an issue as the reviewers found the adhesive over time would eventually stop working. My mind knew that the thicker the magnet, the better it would stick to metal. I settled on the 4″x6″ size sheet and found a few 60 mil offerings in quantities of 10 or 25 sheets.

When my Marietta Magnets package of 10 magnetic sheets arrived I could not wait to create my custom palette case. This 60 mil magnetic sheet is slightly firm with a little flex. I was able to use a household scissor to trim the sheet from 4″ x 6″ down to a 3-3/4″ x 5-3/4″ size. I decided not to completely cover the bottom of my case with the magnetic sheet, but to leave a slight gap so I could easily remove the magnet if I needed to. I’m happy that I went with a thicker magnet as the pans stay in place. Mission accomplished.

Close up of the 60 mil magnet under the pans

I grabbed my pocket palettes and removed my frequently used paint colors. I placed the pans in my new custom case and rearranged them several times to figure out the best color groupings and arrangement to fit my needs.

My new custom palette case

Now a few of you are probably wondering how I can tell the colors apart as some of the pan colors look very similar. I came up with a system and labeled the back of the paint pans. I used my Avery 5422 labels to write out the colors and then cut up the labels to fit the pans. There was a good reason why I went with a stronger or thicker magnet as the labels cover up a bit more of the underside of the metal pans. The pans were sliding around a bit in my pocket palette with the thinner magnet. Now with my new custom case and stronger magnet, I do not have to worry about the pans moving around.

The labels on the back side of a few of my pans

I enjoy seeing all my colors and there is definitely more room for me to rearrange my pans and swap out different colors depending on what I’m painting.

I’m happy with the magnetic sheet I found and it’s working beautifully holding my pans in place.

I still have two Pocket Palettes that are used for my Iridescent paints and for my Primatek paints. I plan on reusing my other empty Pocket Palettes for other paints I have from Winsor & Newton and M. Graham.

Tip:

Any metal case can be converted into a palette case including an empty Altoid mint tin or a Kaweco metal tin.

The magnetic sheet should not be too flexible or too thin as there might not be enough holding power. I went with the 60 mil as I knew I had a label on the backside of my pans and label would sit between the magnet (palette) and metal (pan) reducing the magnet’s strength.

Metal Paint Pans: Art Tool Kit

Watercolor Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine

Brush: Cheap Joe’s American Journal travel brush #10

Porcelain Palette Dish: Home Goods or Tuesday Morning appetizer dish

Porcelain Flower Palette: Local art shop

Card: Strathmore Watercolor cards & envelopes, cold press, 5″ x 6.875″