I’m challenging myself to paint flowers. Especially, flowers I have not painted or sketched before. I had a picture I took of some Pulmonaria (Lungwort) flowers from our garden. My Hubby had planted them years ago along our walkway. I enjoy these smallish flowers as they give a pop of color along the edge of our garden.
I selected three main flowers from my picture and created a quick sketch using my graphite pencil. I mixed different shades of purple paint from pink-purple to blue-purple using Quinacridone Pink with Cobalt Blue and another version with Quinacridone Pink and Prussian Blue.
To make the pink-purple color, I created a wet mix of Quinacridone Pink and some water to make a puddle of color. Then I added a bit of Cobalt Blue and mixed the two colors. The end result should look like a purple color leaning towards pink.
For the blue-purple color, I created a wet mix of Prussian Blue and some water to create the second puddle of color. I added a bit a Quinacridone Pink and mixed those two colors together. My goal was to get a purple color that leans more towards blue.
My first layer that I apply to the object is alway a light wash of color. I will sometimes leave a bit of white showing to represent a strong highlight.
I kept applying layers of color and adding darker colors for shadows and shading.
I decided at the last minute to create a background of muted green colors. I started with a light wash all over the paper and let my painting dry. Then added a few more layers of color.
I’m leaving my painting alone for now. In a few days, I will look at it again and decide if I need to do anything else with my painting.
Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor
Paint Palette: Art Toolkit Pocket Palette
Porcelain Palette: Home Goods or Tuesday Morning
Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Travel #6, #8, & #10
Paper: Strathmore Series 500 Premium 100% cotton 5″x7″
I enjoy seeing what colors other artists are using in their palettes. One color that surprised me was Daniel Smith Cascade Green. I read and heard about this fantastic green color. Little did I know that it would become my favorite green color.
The specs on this tube of paint says this Cascade Green is made up of Burnt Umber and Phthalo Blue (GS). Having a curious mind, I decided to mix these two colors to see what color I could create.
I’m sure if I spent more time mixing, I could eventually come up with a close match.
I am currently under the weather dealing with allergies and it’s preventing my creative juices from flowing. Have a wonderful weekend!
A quick post for today with my latest artwork. This is a first for me as I decided not to do an initial sketch with graphite. I went with my gut instinct and I decided to let go and apply the paint to paper. I mixed my colors of reds and blues to create the different shades of purples.
You can see from the picture it’s a loose painting with some details. A technique I’m trying to learn and also knowing when to stop painting.
During my watercolor journey, I had tried so many different types of palettes to use with my tubes of paints. I started with the popular metal butcher pans which gave me huge mixing spaces, but hardly a good way to separate and organize my colors.
I expanded into plastic clam shell type palettes where my colors were arranged into organized slots around one side and the middle and opposite side contained mixing areas.
I then looked at empty plastic pans where I could fill the pans with my own color and fit the pans into a plastic case. The only issue I uncovered is that not all pans fit into the different plastic palette cases. There were no standards to the pan sizes. Also the pans would not stay secured. Most of the time, my paints would pop out of their pans.
A year ago, I came across an interesting palette that a few artists were using for their urban and nature sketches. A rust-proof aluminum palette case that uses a magnet base to hold the stainless steel pans in place. Clever idea! The pans could be switched around and configured into a functional palette. The silver pans came in four different sizes along with a large mixing pan with a white base. This palette was called the Art Toolkit Pocket Palette by Expeditionary Art.
At the time I purchased my first Pocket Palette last year, one of their offerings (Essential Colors Edition) included the tiny square pans or “mini” pans with six Daniel Smith Extra Fine watercolors: Hansa Yellow, New Gamboge, Pyrrole Scarlet, Quinacridone Rose, Phthalo Blue (GS), and French Ultramarine. The case also included two large mixing pans.
Here’s a better view of the palette and pans:
Once I got the hang of using this palette, I was anxious to fill the empty pans with my own paint colors. It took awhile to fill all those tiny pans. I read somewhere that it was recommended to fill the pans in two stages. The first stage is to do the initial fill half way. Tap the pan to get the paint to settle. Let it dry for a day or two. During this time the paint settles a bit into the pan as it dries. The next stage is to fill the pan up to the edge. Let the pan dry for another day or two and then close the case.
Here is what my current and full palette looks like. It contains the main colors I use most often.
After using this portable palette for a few months, I knew this was going to work well in my small studio space setup and also when I paint outdoors. I found the mini pans were a bit small to use with my larger brushes.
At this point, I was not sure which pan size would work well with my painting style. I decided to purchase another silver case, but with the slender rectangle pans or what they call their “standard” pans.
As you can see I had to create swatches for each of the Pocket Palettes I own. In the pan, the dark colors are undistinguishable between the dark blues and dark greens.
Now that I’ve had some time to use both palettes, I do have a preference for the “standard” pans. First, it is easier to fill as there is more room to get the tube opening into the pan. Second, I can get larger brushes into the pans. Third, it holds double the amount of paint versus using the “mini” pans.
As my tubes of watercolors multiplied, I decided to add a third palette to my collection. My next order included a black palette case with standard pans. I knew this black case would hold special or unusual colors in my collection. It now holds my Duochrome and Iridescent paints. The sparkling paints.
I have to share this. I was able to get all my swatches from the three Pocket Palettes into one 5″x7″ watercolor sheet of paper. It’s easier for me to see all the colors at one time.
Now that I’ve spent some time talking about these beautiful Pocket Palettes, I wanted to spend a bit to time showing how I fill the pans with paint. I had planned to fill the pans in two stages, but it turned out I was able to fill the pans full on the first pass.
I fill my pan with enough paint to reach the top edge of the pan and down the middle of the pan. I don’t worry about the paint reaching the sides. My main goal is to get the paint into the pan without making a mess.
I took a my fancy toothpick and tamped down the paint into the four corners of the pan. Then I ran the toothpick through the edges of the pan and then towards the middle of the pan. This helps to eliminate any air bubbles between the paint and the bottom of the pan. I also take the pan and tap it on my desk to help the paint settle into the pan.
I did come across a tube of paint that showed some extra handling. Like the tube has been slightly squeezed or handled a bit more aggressive before arriving at my studio. I had a hard time opening the tube and had to use a piece of rubber grip to open the cap. This is what the cap and tube looked like after opening:
After filling each pan, I make a point of cleaning out the cap and tube opening with a damp paper towel. When I use the tube at a later date, it will be easier for me to open. I will also squeeze the sides of the tube to suck the paint back into the tube. Yes, I have a thing about opening a tube and have paint gushing out.
You can see how quickly my pans started to dry. The wet glossy sheen on the paint has started to turn matte-like as it dries (except for the sparkling paints). That’s what I call the initial “top skin” and it will take a few days for the whole pan to dry.
I love using my Pocket Palettes. For me it’s all about function and use. The palettes are small that I can stack them on my desk when not in use or lay them side by side in my portfolio or tote bag. They are extremely durable and a joy to use for outdoor painting sessions.
Thin and small and very portable
Size: 3-5/8″ x 2-1/4″ x 1/4″. A bit larger than a standard size business card
Aluminum case is durable: silver or black
Built in mixing area on the inside cover
Magnetic base inside the case to hold the pans
Current Pocket Palettes offerings are available with 14 standard pans, 28 mini pans, or a combination of assorted pans. They also have a mixing palette version.
There is also a much smaller Demi Palette that comes with 12 mini pans (future blog post)
Extra stainless steel pans can be purchased: mini, double, standard, large, & mixing
A case can hold different combinations of pans sizes to suit individual painting needs
Miscellaneous: Flat top toothpicks in a plastic canister (Dollar Store). Rubber grip roll (Dollar Store). Blue shop towels.
Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors
Palette & Pans: Art Toolkit Pocket Palette by Expeditionary Art
Mixing Palette: Round porcelain dish
Paper (140lb/300gsm 100% cotton): Strathmore Series 500 Premium 5″x7″ sheet
As part of my refresher and getting back into an old hobby, I always practice recreating a piece of artwork from one of my favorite pictures. The “three peppers” is a picture I took when Hubby and I were in the Grand Caymans and stumbled across an outdoor market that had beautiful fruits and vegetables displayed. I’ve already completed a rendering of my three peppers in graphite, oil, and pastel. Now, it’s time for a watercolor version.
Here is my portable setup while I sit in my comfy art chair in our family room. My art chair is actually an “armless chair” that is quite comfy. I love having no arms on my chair as I can freely move my arms around or quickly change my sitting position. I have a hard board that I use when I work with single sheets of art paper. My favorite size is a 11″x14″ board where I can then clip my watercolor paper to the top side of the board and also have my mixing palettes and shop towel within reach.
My three peppers are still a work in progress. I took my time with my painting process. I started the first layer using the light colors. For the next layer I used medium-toned colors. It was getting late and I decided to stop what I was doing and take a quick picture. Right now, my peppers look like they are floating on the paper.
I need to apply a layer or two of darker colors and add the shadows under the peppers. A great start into my watercolor adventure.
My Watercolor Supplies
Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolor
Brush: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece Travel Brush #8
Paper (140lb/300gsm 100% cotton): Strathmore 500 Series Premium 5″x7″ paper
Paint Palette: Art Toolkit by Expeditionary Art
Mixing Palette: Small porcelain flower palette (Hobby Lobby)
I know I’ve spent some time talking about my fountain pens and fountain pen inks. Okay, it’s been a few months of pen and ink ramblings. That’s because I’ve made several new friends in the fountain pen world and wanted to share with them my experiences, research, and pen & ink artwork. Also my creative mojo has been going full speed ahead which means I will be venturing into my other creative hobbies.
It takes a bit longer for me to create a painting versus doing a quick pen & ink sketch. There’s a bit of “setup time” involved with watercolors since I do not have a designated space for painting. In my tote, I have my palette of colors, my porcelain mixing dish, my travel/portable brushes, my sketching tools, my collapsible water container, and small sheets of watercolor paper. When I’m working with pen & ink, I only have to carry my fountain pens, a water brush, and my journal with me.
In a previous post I mentioned about swatching the dots on my Daniel Smith dot sheets into rectangle shapes of color. I decided to take it a step further and created color swatches in my watercolor art journal. So here are the 238 colors in my journal pages:
As you can see, I created the blocks of colors without any guidelines and tried my best to keep them straight and almost lined up. Creating the swatches helped get me back into the watercolor frame of mind and getting reacquainted with my brushes, paint, and paper.
I started a small painting over the weekend and I will be back to share a quick picture in a new post.
Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors (Dot Sheets)
It was at the beginning of my watercolor adventure and my first class where I learned to use student-grade supplies and I developed some bad habits with using the cheap paints and cheap papers. I kept hearing buy what you can afford. At some point in my watercolor painting life I was miserable with what I created and could not get to the next level of seeing any improvements in what I was painting. My paintings were dull and lifeless.
I found a local artist who had a studio in town and she took me under her wings for a few weeks. I showed up for the first session and she told me to get rid of my student grade paints and papers and start using artist quality supplies. She mentioned there’s a huge difference in quality between student grade and artist grade. She let me use her tubes of Winsor & Newton Artist paint for my first lesson and I immediately saw a difference. A few weeks later my mentor saw a huge improvement in my paintings. This eye opening experience brought life back to my art adventure.
When I graduated to artist grade supplies, I had to re-learn or develop new habits with using better grade paints and papers. I went from paint fillers to pure translucent colors. In regards to paper, I went from cellulose paper to 100% cotton paper. It was definitely an eye opening experience and instead of frowning at what I created, it was pure joy to see beautiful colors pop on my cotton paper.
If I had learned to use artist grade supplies at the beginning, I would have immediately developed good habits right from the start.
I was thankful to have the basic small tubes of Winsor & Newton Artist colors and not go hog-crazy getting the rainbow of colors they manufactured. I learned to mix the basic colors of yellows, reds, and blues to create the secondary colors. For example yellow and red to create orange. Yellow and blue to create green. Red and blue to create purple.
I followed several watercolor artists on the Internet and noticed they were branching out into other watercolor paint manufacturers. One brand that peaked my interest was a US based manufacturer, Daniel Smith. I purchased a few small tubes of his paints and immediately fell in love with his pure bright colors.
A few years ago, I signed up for a refresher watercolor class at my local art center. I was glad to see the instructor’s art supply list included Daniel Smith paints and I was happy to try out new colors. I had a lot of fun in that class and enjoyed learning new tips and painting styles. It showed in my final paintings I produced.
Over the last few months I saw Daniel Smith had a watercolor “dot sheet” that contained almost all of the Daniel Smith watercolor paints available. The sheet is arranged by colors and the one I purchased had 4 sheets covering a total of 238 color dots. That’s a lot of colors from one manufacturer! Scroll through the following pictures to see the 8.5″x11″ sheets of colors:
I spent some time playing with the dots. I took my #6 round paint brush and applied some water to each dot. I painted out each dot in rectangle blocks of color. Most of the colors immediately reacted with the water and it was easy to pull the colors out. A few were so dry that it took some time to get the paint to react to the water and move it around the paper.
For the last 10 years, I have accumulated over 40+tubes of Daniel Smith watercolor paints in my collection. As I mentioned before, I used to mix the basic colors to get my secondary and some tertiary colors. Some colors like turquoise and teal take more effort to create. It made more sense for me to purchase a tube of the exact color I needed.
Did I mention DS makes shimmering paint colors? They are actually called Duochrome and Iridescent colors. Here’s a few close up pictures:
I have my shimmering fountain pen inks to thank for getting me into the sparkling watercolor paints. I never thought I would end up with tubes of shimmering beauties. Oh my! Daniel Smith is doing a great job with their paint offerings.
My paint bin is full of paint tubes. I had to create an inventory (spreadsheet) of my watercolor paint collection. Out of the 40+ tubes in my possession, only 5 colors were duplicates. Not too bad as they are the colors I enjoy using the most.
I plan on getting back into creating some watercolor pieces of art. I just need to carve out a few hours a day and just do it!
Before I sign up for a class (online or in person instructions), I look for the instructor’s supply list to see which brands of paint they use or like to use. It’s not uncommon to see good instructors use a combination of brands like Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton Professional. Artists/instructors will have favorites they like to use. That’s part of my art adventure and enjoying new colors I have not tried.
You may have heard the saying “a tiny bit goes a long way”. It definitely does with Daniel Smith or Winsor & Newton Professional paints. Artist grade or professional paints are made from pure pigments of color. Student grade paints are made with a small amount of pigment and lots of fillers and that explains why I used up so many tubes of the student grade paints. Student grade can also be opaque and not as vibrant in color.
Dot Cards are a good investment. Both Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton have dot cards. As you can see from the previous pictures, the cards contain the actual paint dropped onto a card along with the name of the paint, lightfastness, staining/nonstaining, granulation, and transparency. The color dot can be activated with a damp brush. Remember I mentioned about a tiny bit goes a long way? This card makes swatching so easy. You can see what the colors look like and the consistency before committing to a tube of paint.
Winsor & Newton has two lines of watercolor paints. One is their “Professional” artist grade paints. The other is their “Cotman” name which is their student grade paint.
I have not discussed watercolor paint brushes. For me, it’s a personal choice. I’ve accumulated several different brands that I’ve tried over the years. I still have a few of my student-type brushes that have served me well. I did try out a few real sable hair and squirrel brushes that I still have and use occasionally. I now prefer to use synthetic brushes. I enjoy the synthetic sable brushes for the lovely points they keep and the synthetic squirrel for the amount of water and color the brush can carry.
My Favorite Watercolor Supplies
Paints: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors
Paper (140lb/300gsm and 100% cotton): Arches Cold Press, Strathmore Series 500 Premium Cold Press, and Bee Paper Rag Cold Press
Brushes: Cheap Joe’s Golden Fleece, Escoda Versatil, Robert Simmons, and Princeton
Travel Palette: Art Toolkit by Expeditionary Art
Mixing Palette: Small 3″-4″ round porcelain dishes (Tuesday Morning or Home Goods)
Some of you might remember I received my first Benu as a Christmas gift from my Hubby. I fell in love with the beautiful colors of my Bora Bora. The turquoise tropical blue color with silver and gold shimmering particles reminded me of the Caribbean. The medium nib writes smooth and wet and handles shimmering inks beautifully.
Edit: Here’s a tidbit of information. I was doing some research on Benu pens and found that the cap threads are square. So, naturally I unscrewed the cap from my Benu and took out my trusty loupe to see the threads on the body of the pen. Yes! I can see the squared off threads which would normally be rounded in most fountain pens. This square thread form shape has the lowest friction and it is hard to fabricate in a pen design. It’s also the most efficient thread form to screw a cap on.
Besides using my Benu for writing, I also enjoy using it as a tool to sketch with in my pen and ink wash artwork. That says a lot about this pen. I know I mentioned this before, but I could write for hours with this pen. Yes, it fits in my hand and has a nice long grip/section. It’s lightweight and sometimes I felt like I was holding a pencil. I naturally gravitated towards using it to sketch with.
I sketched my first Benu using my fountain pen inks and a bit of iridescent watercolor to bring out the sparkles in my pen.
I was keeping an eye out for another Benu called Tropical Voyage and eventually added that one to my collection. Can you see a theme developing? There’s actually two themes: tropical pen names and the lovely shades of blue.
In my art journal I now have a page devoted to my Benu artwork. I originally had planned to sketch my Everyday Writers or EDWs on this page, but my Euphorias were so colorful and beautiful it was inevitable to have a page dedicated to them.
As I was typing up a draft of this blog post, I received my third Euphoria. I was torn between the Big Wave and the glittering Vodka on the Rocks. I wanted to keep with my tropical theme. After much thought, I decided the Vodka was a bit over the top with all that glitter and too sparkly for me. Can you believe that? Too sparkly for me? Hahaha!
So here’s my Big Wave and all it’s beautiful shimmering tiny particles. It reminds me of a frothy shimmering surf. Be sure the click the arrows in the picture to see the slideshow.
Naturally, I had to do a quick sketch of my pen. I decided to do a test sketch to see how the ink colors and iridescent watercolors play together. I wanted to make sure I could capture the glittering frothy surf.
Here’s my writing samples from my Euphorias. All three are filled with shimmering inks.
Here’s what the page from my art journal looks like:
Here’s another picture to show off the glittering sparkles:
My process of integrating my fountain pen inks and iridescent watercolor paints has greatly improved since my first Benu pen sketch. I do the initial sketch with my inks and let them dry completely. I add the iridescent color(s) and gently apply the sparkling wash over the areas. I try not to disturb the paper too much, otherwise I will lift the ink and move it around on the paper and get a mix of unwanted colors.
Bora Bora Sketch:
Pens used: Conklin Endura Abalone with JoWo Omniflex nib. Platinum Prefounte 05 Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Enchanted Ocean and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Carbon Fire, Heart of Gold, and Thunderstorm.
Watercolor used: Daniel Smith Iridescent Pearl White and Aztec Gold
Tropical Voyage Sketch:
Pens used: Benu Euphorias Bora Bora and Tropical Voyage with Medium nibs. Conklin Duragraph Matte Black with Rainbow Trim Goulet Exclusive LE (JoWo Omniflex nib). Platinum Prefounte 05 Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Arabian Nights, Golden Ivy, and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Blue Moon, and Thunderstorm.
Big Wave Sketch:
Pens used: Benu Euphoria Big Wave with Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Starlit Sea. JHerbin Bleu de Minuit. Robert Oster Blue River, Carbon Fire, and Thunderstorm.
Watercolor: Daniel Smith Iridescent Pearl White and Pearl Shimmer
I thought I would start the new year by spending my day sketching. I picked up one of my currently inked pens and had a “just do it” moment. I started out with a rough sketch using my pencil for an outline and using a pen with my carbon ink to add in some depth and permanent lines.
A few weeks ago, I cleaned out all my TWSBI GOs that I had filled with ink back in July. Now, I’m slowly pulling out different ink colors to use for the winter months and filling my TWSBIs again. I now have a mix of Robert Oster and Diamine inks to use.
Here’s my sketch from this morning.
I had most of the ink colors I wanted to use, but I was missing a sparkling silver ink. (Thanks to my fellow fountain pen ink friends, I now have some good recommendations). I had a light bulb moment and pulled out my watercolor palette of metallic paints. I dabbled some silver and gold paints to my sketch.
I love using my porcelain dish to mix my watercolors. This is actually an appetizer dish that came packaged as a set of 4 plates. I found this at my local home discount store. It’s small enough that I can put one in my backpack, keep one on my desk, and the others in my art tote. I prefer to use porcelain as I do not have to do any priming to the surface. Plastic palettes require some priming to the surface.
For the next few weeks I will be busy creating some artwork, taking some fun online courses (technology and music), getting reacquainted with my embroidery machine and learning a new embroidery software. So much to do. A great way to start 2021!
Pens – TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1
Inks – Diamine Enchanted Ocean and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Carbon Fire, Heart of Gold, and Thunderstorm
Paints – Daniel Smith Luminescent Watercolors
Brushes – Cheap Joes Travel size
Accessories – Metal Pocket Palette, Pentel Water Brush, blue shop towel, and Porcelain dish
Journal – Stillman & Birn Zeta
Plastic palettes have a surface that allows watercolors to “run off” in different areas. To prime the surface, I use a bit of Soft Scrub on a damp paper towel and rub the surface of the palette. I then rinse the palette with water to remove the cleaner. I only need to do this once. This process “roughens” the surface so the paint/water sticks to the areas where I am mixing the paints.
I have found porcelain plates/palettes are perfect for mixing watercolors. No need to prime the surface. I like the smaller plates that have a narrow sides. This allows me to carry my palette around without spilling the paint over the sides. Porcelain plates are heavy and less prone to tipping over or accidental movements.
Besides Robert Oster inks, I do enjoy using Diamine inks for sketching and water washes. I’m finding the Diamine inks are lovely saturated inks including their shimmering inks.