You never know where accidents will take you. Recently some Cobalt Teal pigment leaked all over my palette, and the next time I went out to sketch I was determined to use it up. It made its way into all my sketches for quite a long time, and in the process it led me down a new path with colour. Most of us tend to always dip into the same wells: green for trees, blues for sky. But what if the sky is yellow? Or the trees purple? The idea for this workshop is to open participants’ minds: to give them fresh ideas and options for using vibrant and luminous combinations of colours, as we explore two and three-colour combinations of pigments.
In this workshop participants will explore new ways of working with colour through limited palettes: brights, neutrals and opaques. We’ll see how painting the same scene in different ways changes our perception of the place. Students will be encouraged to move out of their comfort zones and explore new colour combinations.
In this workshop we’ll look at:
- Exploring new triads of colour, both bright and muted
- Creating a centre of interest through use of pure colour
- Creating unity in our sketches by limiting our colours
- Retaining luminosity and keeping colours fresh
- Defining value relationships and creating lively darks through a wet-in-wet approach and modifying viscosity of paint
We will start by looking at sample sketches and discuss different combinations of triads for creating limited palettes. I will introduce three or four combinations of colours, and then demonstrate the possibilities that can be created with each of them. We will look at creating vibrant neutral colours from our primary colours. As well, each of these triads will include one dark pigment, and I will show how to create lively darks by introducing pigment into wet washes.
In the first exercise, participants will create a small sketch using a triad of muted colours. Emphasis will be placed on finding a focus in the sketch by using the purest, most vibrant colour in one area.
Next we will create a small sketch using a triad of bright colours. This time the emphasis will be on retaining white or light areas in the sketch.
Group will gather to evaluate and compare the two sketches.
Moving out of your comfort zone. Students will be encouraged to experiment with a triad of colours that is different, unusual, unlikely or seemingly inappropriate? In this final sketch, we’ll look at how value relationships take precedence over realistic colour.
The group will gather again to discuss and evaluate the final sketches.
- A selection of tube watercolours. I will be using several triad combinations (but feel free to try other combinations if you have similar hues) Brights (Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red and Ultramarine Blue); Muted (Cerulean Blue, Yellow Ochre, Organic Vermilion); and Unexpected (Cobalt Teal, Quinacridone Gold and Permanent Alizarin Crimson)
- Portable watercolour palette
- Watercolour sketchbook (Moleskine or other) or small watercolour blocks
- Small plastic water bottle
- Brushes: medium size round (size 8-10), small round for details (size 3)
- Pencil, pen for drawing
- Bulldog clips, kneaded rubber eraser, paper towels
- Small folding stool