Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Experimenting with colours

A friend loaned me a book on watercolour recently. It's by an artist called Ray Campbell Smith. I immediately fell in love with how he paints skies, trees and water. I'm currently reading the chapter on colours. He works with a limited palette - mostly raw sienna, ultramarine and light red (which is a rusty kind of red), and also phthalo blue. And he produces magical landscapes with these colours.
So I had to try it. The initial test I did looked promising. Lots of yummy mixes, particularly in the mauves and greys and brick tones.

But maybe the raw sienna I have isn't as good (although it is Sennelier), but I can't get good greens out of it! They just don't pop enough for me. Granted, I'm practising on cheap paper, so you can't really compare. So I experimented some more, this time with yellow ochre. Much more interesting results, in my opinion. Fabulous mixes with both ultramarine and phthalo blue. And when mixed with Schmincke English Venetian Red (PR101), gorgeous grays and earth tones.

But still not bright enough for the way I paint, it would seem.  When I tried to paint trees, they just looked, well, wishy-washy. The scanned painting looks actually a lot better than the original, where the light greens lack brightness and the darks are not deep enough.

So I went back to my recent green palette and I was much happier with the result! Until I scanned it! It looks far too fluo on my screen. I'm promise it's not that bright in reality!

But it's got me thinking about toning down my greens all the same. Maybe that's just the way I see green? Or is it that green is one of these colours that don't accurately reproduce digitally? That might explain why Ray Campbell Smith's paintings look lovely in the book? I must find out more about this extreme variation between paper and screen! Maybe my brain thinks spring green should be bright, nearly yellow, but that's not how it actually is. Maybe I need to rethink my whole palette?? Much soul-searching ahead!

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