Yesterday I used all the blues in my watercolor box. Little dabs of them are now in the wells of two different plastic palettes. An easy, non-abstract subject which uses all shades of blues is the ocean. I started with the redder shades of blue in the foreground and worked toward the horizon with the greener blues and smaller brushstrokes. It seemed to work out.
Today’s experiment: the reds
Today I wanted to finish the upper half of the picture, so I looked at my handy color strip book that I made and tried to choose the bluer reds close to the horizon, working upwards on the paper to the more orange shades, to yellow and finally to blue.
Below is my color strip book unfolded to display the reds through the yellows. I hid the unsaturated colors.
Since I am on the west coast of the US, and I already had an ocean, I thought I’d try to portray a sunset. Some sunsets show the whole range of the spectrum, from red to violet, but in the case of my Sunset #1, I ran out of paper at cerulean blue.
I tried to portray the reflection of the sky in the blue foreground from yesterday, but I think I forgot to leave enough white space to allow for placing the red through blue shadings of the sky on the water. One thing about sunsets though: there is always tomorrow. I need to keep practicing.
Sunset #2 was done on paper with a smoother surface than Sunset #1 above. I did several things differently with this experiment. (I only made it to lemon yellow this time, before running out of paper.) First, after the blues dried, I washed over the bottom third with clear water. I think this was a mistake because it eliminated the pure white spaces that would have been nice to paint with the sky colors for the reflection. Secondly, instead of dabbing the end of the paintbrush to get a texture, as in #1, I painted each shade of red as a continuous line. This was probably a mistake as well, since I took too much time between painting each line. It would have been better planning to have the second color ready before the first line dried, the third ready before the second dried, etc.
Probably the best strategy would have been to choose a red that blends nicely with a yellow, making sure that the yellow blends nicely with a given blue, and do a graded wash: first the red to the yellow, then the yellow to the blue. This would allow the paints themselves to mix themselves.
What to do with the unsaturated colors?
In using my color strip book, I noticed a problem when attempting to put them in the same order as the spectrum. The problem was the degree of saturation of each color. I would like to try an experiment similar to today’s, with earth tones. There are many varieties of brown, from yellow to red shades. I am not sure if there is a blue shaded earth tone. Does Payne’s Gray count?
Thank you for reading. As always, I am looking for any input you care to give for future experiments, or feedback on the current one.