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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)