Mis?Adventures in Watercolor: Going in Circles


Color charts and color wheels and all those wonderful things recommended for the watercolor student?  Not really my bag.

But watercolor is more of a challenge than other media I’ve tackled in the past.  And I do like experimenting (did you know that about me?).  The colors do more than just color.  They stain and granulate…or they don’t.  Some are more transparent, some more opaque.  Some are delicate and some are dominant, and boy howdy!  Does it all make a difference!  That’s just the paint—don’t get me started on the brushes and paper!

Well, yes.  Start me on the brushes.  I need to practice my brush skills.  Especially with the new brushes I bought for my watercolor class.

I’m reading  Nita Leland’s Confident Color (see her video ) and she recommends some triads—3 colors, chosen for their harmony, which when mixed will give you a full range of reds, blues, yellows, greens, oranges, and purples.

So I’ve got new brushes, a handbound book of Arches watercolor, and lots of triads—some from my watercolor class, six from Nita’s book, and a whole bunch of triads from Daniel Smith.  I also have try-it dots, so I’ve got 238 colors!  I’m going to use Linda Kemp’s negative, layered circles.  That way I can try for all the colors on each triad wheel, and get lots of brush practice.  This book is going to be my circle book!

I did two triad circles over the last couple of days—one from my class  and one of Nita’s.

Traid One (from my class): Azo Yellow, Phthalo Blue (Green Shade), and Pyrrole Red.  Nita has two triads that use almost the same colors—not quite.  I’m curious to see how they will differ.

What did I learn from this triad?  Brush-wise, I know I find the Cat’s Tongue easier to control, so I need to spend more time using the Risslon Daggers.  I do like both brushes, but I need to ask the teacher how you control them if you are working dry-on-dry.

All three colors glow!

Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) is a MONSTER!  It’s a dominator, a power-mad pigment that will steal the show even from other brilliant shades like Azo Yellow and Pyrolle Red.  But it’s so beautiful, that you might well go ahead and let it.  It re-activates easily, even when dry and you can carry it’s color into other areas of your painting—even if you don’t mean to!  But.  It is beautiful.

Phthalo Blue (Green Shade and Pyyrole Red go dark very quickly! 

This is a great triad for painting galaxies, lol.  It would be awesome for tropical works—parrots, flowers, colorful landscapes.  Did I mention that the colors glow?  No glitter, or interference, or shiny stuff—just intense powerful pigment (at least when made by M. Graham).

Triad Two (Nita Leland’s Opaque Earth triad) Indian Red, Cerulean Blue, and Yellow Ochre. 

What a difference! I don’t think they show to advantage after the bright, hard colors above, but they are just as beautiful.  These are humble, quiet colors-contemplative and definitely earthy.  None dominates—well, maybe the Indian Red, just a  bit.  It is both opaque and granulating, so it supplies lots of lovely texture.

You can see the granulated texture more clearly in this close-up.

I was using Danial Smith try-it dots and ran out of color before I could get anywhere near black.  I suspect that I never would have anyway.  But these three make some lovely grays and browns.  This triad would be great for desert landscapes, pebbles, and old brick buildings.  I love these colors, and I’d never let Phthalo Blue anywhere near them, the poor old dears.

One comment

  1. I love your experiments. The granulated effect gives a lovely texture. I must admit, when I first started with watercolour I always felt like it was too difficult. There seemed to be too many rules. But, as with everything, I just began to experiment by myself and ignored the rules until I became more confident. Now it is one my favourite mediums. Thanks for the interesting post! Now…where are my watercolours?

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