Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Making Color Hum

Moss and Wild Phlox, 5 x 7", watercolor on Arches paper

      You always hear teachers say that they learn a lot from teaching, and this is true for me as well. Every time I teach a class or workshop, I know that I will gain new insights from participant-students. At my last workshop, we were talking about using only the three primary colors to mix up all the colors in our watercolor layers. Jule suggested that I check out Making Color Sing: Practical Lessons in Color and Design, by Jeanne Dobie. So I did, and it is a marvelous book. I couldn't wait to try out the particular colors that she especially values. I ordered a couple of colors that I had not tried before and set to work on painting exclusively with the recommended three primary colors.
      I love mixing colors, but there was something amiss for me. It was too high key and not nearly "murky" enough. I was itching to reach for my preferred colors--and even more than that, the "used" palettes from my classes and workshops. I always encourage my students to take their palettes with them, but they often leave them behind and I then use them for my paintings. They are actually, quite splendid, with all sorts of amazing colors premixed. They provide the same deep and indescribable colors found in nature. Then my only task is to bring out the pure and bright in spots. It really works for me. I guess I prefer my colors to hum, and even at a low register, than to sing!
Pre-prepared palettes that make my paintings hum! The bottom painting on the right is  made with the three primary colors suggested by Jeanne Dobie. Above that is a painting filled with my pre-mixed, preferred palette paints.

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