Thursday, 1 January 2015

Vandy Massey - Week #1

During the course of this year, I'm hoping to be able to look in detail at 52 different colours, and make a few notes about some of the characteristics of each one. Clearly this won't be exhaustive, because the possible combinations of colours is so large it may as well be infinite, for the purposes of this blog. But I will find it useful to go back to basics and focus on a single colour in each post. And hopefully others will build on my notes and find their own ways of learning something about each colour.

In the last wash challenge, I discovered that Alizarin Crimson has fugitive qualities - something I hadn't realised until Maggie Latham mentioned it to me in response to one of my posts. It came as a bit of a blow to me - because it was a cornerstone in my palette and is such a great rich red colour.

Arches watercolour journal entry for Daniel Smith Permanent Alizarin Crimson
I now use Daniel Smith's Permanent Alizarin Crimson which has an excellent lightfastness rating, and is made of three pigments: Quinacridone Violet (PV19), Perylene Red BX (PR149) and Anthraquinone Red (PR177). All of these have a lightfastness rating of I, whereas the classic Alizarin Crimson pigment (PR83) has a rating of III 
(Note: IV is classed as fugitive).

One of the things I would encourage watercolourists who are keen to learn about colour to do is to keep a colour journal. I have a bound book of really heavy Arches paper which was given to me last Christmas. This is now my colour journal into which I paint swatches and make notes and small sample reference paintings to remind me of the way different colours work. I was inspired to do this through the discovery of the wonderful blog of Australian artist Jane Blundell

Sample sketch - Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Viridian in high concentration create deep darks

Another one of my inspirations is the Hazel Soan book on colour which I received from my son for Christmas. In this she reminds us of how transparent colours can be used to create juicy darks. In this little sample wash I added a concentrated dose of Winsor and Newton Viridian to get some delicious darks in the centre and undersides of the petals.

Finally, I put the colour to work in a little painting, choosing a subject that would benefit from the transparency and range of tonal values available in this colour. I chose two other transparent colours to complement the crimson.

Paper: Bockingford 300gsm NOT, 15 x 21 cm
Pigments: Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone Gold (Daniel Smith), Perylene Green(Daniel Smith). 

Wet in wet: When dropped into the wet red paint, the combination of strong red and soft green made the pigment spread into a delicate green/grey. 
The Quinacridone Gold merges beautifully with the Permanent Alizarin Crimson to create a soft golden peachy colour.

Wet on (almost) dry: The dark centre of the flower was created using Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and concentrated Perylene Green. 

I'm looking forward to exploring colours again on this blog.

Happy 2015 to everyone.