My first thought when I saw these colors is that they would be fabulous to use as backgrounds for technical pen drawings and tangles. The colors had a somewhat chalky feel (not look) once the paint dried, though. I almost expected it to rub off easily, but it doesn’t.
I started drawing with a Zebra Zensations 0.8 nib size technical pen.
At first, everything seemed fine, but then the ink stopped flowing very well. I wiped off the nib, and it was okay for a while, but started having problems again.
The Zebra’s a pretty sturdy pen, but it does have a fabric nib, and those can clog.
I switched to a Micron PN (plastic nib) 0.8 technical pen and moved on to the next background.
The situation was much the same – the plastic nib worked fine for a while then it became harder and harder to get the ink to flow. The Aqua Black paper is pretty soft, and I thought it might be at least part of the problem. I decided to switch to the background I did on white Nostalgie paper. It has a much smoother, harder surface.
The pen worked a little better on this paper; it took longer before the flow clogged up. But clog up it did. For grins, I switched to the Zensations with its fabric tip. I kept going, switching between the two pens. My line work was clumsier than usual because I was trying to get that ink to flow!
Eventually, both pens stopped working altogether. I may be able to get them working again, but they’ll never give me crisp flowing lines again.
*sigh* But these are such beautiful colors. I’ll know not to plan to draw over them with technical pen, but you’ll be seeing them a lot used in other ways because I like them!
My first brand of serious watercolor was a set of Yarka St Petersburg pan paints. They are also sold under the name of White Nights. They are a professional grade, though on the lower end of professional*, very nicely priced (for professional). Recently, they came out with a set of six, new pastel colors.
*Not to be confused with the student grade Yarka sets that come with round pans in a long thin palette for about $8. Those are in fact surprisingly decent. Much better than Prang!
This is a set of individual pans – one each of the new colors. They don’t come in a palette. All White Nights paint pans are full size, which are better for your brushes and you get twice the paint than the standard half-pans.
The colors are:
When you talk pastel colors in watercolor, it usually means a pigment mixed with white and that is the case here. The names on this set aren’t standard. The index numbers tell you more – you might recognize the color under these names.
PW6 is Titanium white and all the the colors are mixed with it.
Coral is PR242/PW6. PR242 often goes under the names Scarlet, Cadmium Red HUE, French Vermilion Hue
Pink Peony is PR122/PW6. PR122 often goes under the names Magenta, Brilliant Red Violet, Brilliant Magenta
Rose Quartz – PR170/PW6. PR170 often goes under the names Napthol Red, Permanent Red, Ruby Red
Lilac – PV19/PW6. PV19 often goes under the names Quinacridone Rose or Purple, Alizarin Crimson, Red Rose
Royal blue – PB29/PW6. PB29 is best known as Ultramarine Blue.
Lavender – PV19/PB29/PW6. This is a very common mix and standard name for it.
So what do the colors look like when you paint with them? Pretty nice, really. Watercolors mixed with white are often chalky. These colors could be used for a chalkboard look, but they have a beautiful glow.
You can see how well all the colors co-ordinate.
I would have like to see a yellow in the set, but that would allow you to mix muddy color. You could also mix greens and oranges, so there are pros and cons to adding yellow. As it is, these colors will always work well together.
On black paper, the colors really excel. They are truly opaque colors, but you do need to use more than one layer to get real color. A single layer has a grayish tinge to it. With this painting, I used less water and only a few layers, which allowed the colors to glow.
In this painting, I used more water and built up layers to get more of a graduation of color values. While the added layers give you a wide range of values, it also reduces the glow.
You could mix these colors on your own. But you’d have to experiment with the ratio of color to white, and would never get exactly the same shade twice. You could waste paint trying for the right shade. If you like to experiment, and want to learn the best rations – mix them for yourself. If you like convenience, these colors are a fabulous buy.
Tomorrow, I’ll show you what happens when you try to draw over these paints. Part 2.
Note: Gouache IS watercolor – but it isn’t as processed as long as the paint labeled as ‘watercolor’. To keep things simple, when I say watercolor, I mean non-gouache watercolor.
Wet Paint Art has a sale on a set of Holbein gouache paints at the moment. I’ve been wanting to try professional gouache and decided this was the time to get some. I haven’t had too much time to play with them yet, but I thought I’d show you the kind of play I do to test a new kind of paint.
I’m not much on making mix charts. I’d rather play. I’m playing but I’m also having a close conversation between just me and the gouache. I choose paper & brushes that I’m very used to – I know what they’ll do and can kind of ignore them. It doesn’t matter in the least how the finished page looks – this is a ‘getting to know you’ session, completely free form.
Gouache is generally not used with lots of water and not for loose flowing effects. So, of course, the first thing I do is soak a piece of Britannia watercolor paper and drop the paint in to see how it flows. I kept dropping in more paint as the first application dried.
It does very well – I can’t see any difference from the way watercolor would perform. Except – see down towards the lower left? Those are stripes of white gouache that I applied after the paint had almost dried. You wouldn’t get those white stripes with watercolor.
See the red fish-like thing toward the right bottom? I dropped in that red – wet into damp and I did get some spiking. Same with the pink in the middle. But I didn’t get any large blossoms – those rings of texture you often get with watercolor.
This painting will end up as the base or background for another painting someday.
My second test was to see how the colors blended with heavier applications of paint, wet on dry paper. I also play with layering paint, and lifting color – both while the paint is wet and later once it is dry.
All that lighter texture was achieved by tapping the edge of damp flat brush and lifting color. Wet or dry, the color lifted easily. Almost too much so. I know this is partially the paper. Hahnemühle Britannia is a good paper for lifting, but I wouldn’t be able to lift watercolor this easily – not even on this paper.
Now to the black paper.
It’s almost too easy to just get lost in the vibrancy of the color against the black! I just had too much fun swooping and swirling. I’m not sure I learned anything – I was having too much fun.
Okay, I think I must have learned something, because this painting just almost painted itself. This time I had a reference, though I only used it loosely.
I love the marks that a splayed flat brush makes with gouache on black paper and it really didn’t take much to turn those marks into ocean foam.
Truly. I just made swipes in the direction I wanted. Swop, swop, drag, swop, across the page. I dabbed with the tip for the flowers, and dragged the color downward for the rocks. Swop, swop, swop.
I kept adding more color on top of color, testing for opacity and how the colors mixed. I fussed longer than I should, deliberately, to see if I would get mud. I didn’t.
I’m trying to come up with an idea for a gouache tutorial that will post on Doodlewash. Perhaps something like this ocean scene? Or would something on white paper be better?
If you are having that kind of conversation with yourself, that’s probably a clue that it’s time to put your painting away for a while and come back later with fresh eyes.
With this bubble, I didn’t do that. I kept fussing, trying to get a certain look. I never did get the look, but I discovered that gouache on Stonehenge black watercolor paper is very forgiving and it let me noodle on for quite a while.
Finally, I got the message, and let the painting sit for a couple of days. Now that I’ve forgotten what I was trying to do, I like it much better.
I need to try it again with watercolor. I think what I wanted was more of a feeling of transparency and gouache isn’t the best medium for that.
I love googling ‘topiary’ to get inspiration for my stylized landscapes. Usually, I just scroll through the photos and then go off to do a painting but occasionally I’ll see something that I just have to paint from a reference. Fortunately, I was able to find a good photo of these beautiful topiary horses, which are found in the Jardin botanique de Montréal.
Having made the decision to paint on black paper, the question is what colors to use for shadows. I’ve been meaning to discuss this for a while – color choices for shadow.
All too often, we reach for black when we decide to paint shadows. Not necessarily a tube black, but often a mixture of our own – Ultramarine blue and Burnt Sienna, for instance. Sometimes, we’ll use the main color of the subject and mix in a little of its complimentary. These are good choices. But have you ever seen those paintings that seem so full of light and then noticed that the shadows are purples and blues?
I’ve been playing with purples and blues for a while now. Sometimes, using them for middle tones, but also for deep shadows. It’s a no-brainer when you are painting on black. After all, you already have black. Your painted shadows have to be something else.
The gouache colors I chose for this painting were Acid Blue and Violet.
When painting with watercolor, the question of transparency comes up. Sometimes, I’ll use Cerulean Blue, but if the other colors are transparent, it can end up sitting like a lump because it’s opaque. Phthalo Blue’s a good choice, but is such an intense color that it can overpower. If you’ve painted a flower with delicate whites and pinks, the Phthalo Blue might steal the scene. Or it could really make the flowers stand out. (It’s never easy, is it?).
Then there is the issue of red-bias and green-bias. A reddish blue or purple is considered warmer, while a greenish blue or bluish purple would be considered cooler. Theory has it that warmer colors seem nearer, while cooler seems farther away.
So you could use the color choices for your shadows to imply depth.
While painting on the object itself, using warmer mid-times toward the center of the object, and cooler shadows along the edges could create a rounder appearance.
To me, most of the purples seem cooler than most of the blues but this strays into the realm of personal perception. Sometimes the difference is marginal, and people do perceive the whole warm/cool thing differently. That’s why it’s difficult to decide which is which sometimes.
Practice, practice. Play with the colors you have and decide what you like. And next time, you see a painting that just astounds you with the feeling of light – look closely at the shadows. Strangely enough – they may be the source of the light.
After using my new Van Gogh Specialty set on both the Van Gogh black watercolor paper and on the Stonehenge paper, I decided to do a back-to-back comparison, so I could really appreciate what the differences were.
I wasn’t looking to see which was better. That’s not my philosophy when it comes to art supplies. I wanted to see how each handled the paint, so I’d know how to get the best out of each in the future.
The Van Gogh black paper has a marvelous texture. It isn’t labeled as Cold Press, Hot Press or Rough. I’d say rough, but toward the smoother end of it. The paint moves well – almost too much. You can get detail but have to work at it. The paper is cellulose.
The paint moves well on the Stonehenge black, but not as freely as on the Van Gogh. The paint takes a bit longer to dry, which results in brighter color. It was easier to get detail, and keep more contrast because I had more control. The paper is labeled as Cold Press. It still has a definite texture but it doesn’t show as much through the paint. The paper is 100% cotton.
I really like the texture of the Van Gogh, and this is the paper I’d choose for looser effects. I like the brighter colors on the Stonehenge and would use it if I was looking for specific detail.
This is a repeat of the Grove step-out. I’ve updated the text and added a new header example. Sorry – I didn’t have time for a video this week.
One of the hallmarks of ‘naive art’ (I recommend you google Naive Art Landscapes) is that real-life perspective is not important. If your buildings are a little crooked and the road in the distance looks as wide as the road up front – it just adds to the charm.
Grove is a forest of trees. It can be used as the main subject of a landscape, but is also great as a secondary subject in the midground or background.
Your grove can look like several trees or a tree with several trunks that split from the same base.
If Grove is your main subject, you add more detail. If it is background, you want to keep it more simple.
This drawing done with Zebra Sarasa Fineliners on Hahnemühle Watercolor Postcard