Moving back to dry media for general purposes.

Instead of roaming over backposts to see various snapshots of myself in time, maybe what I need to do is write. Most of my free time today has been taken up with homework, eating, or sleeping. I’m not sure if that’s normal.

I have 22 pages to go before I’ll have finished my major reading assignment for Political Advocacy, which I should complete tomorrow — and work on the Discussion Topics, as well. I can already start writing on the earlier chapters…I just didn’t. It’s easier for me to intake information than to make something new with it.

Early this morning, I also had to get up for a class meeting, before heading out for a family brunch. After that, I came home and basically fell asleep, and stayed asleep for three hours. (I was surprised, too.)

Oh, wait. I’m missing the part where we went to the art-supply store. I had planned to get some 1/4″ masking tape (to mark off quilting seam allowances) and a bottle of that scarlet ink I mentioned, before. What I ended up doing was spending some gift money on a couple of small sketchbooks and pen cleaning solutions, in addition.

They also have these silicone things called Colour Shapers, which I know I can use to apply masking fluid for watercolors (latex won’t ruin these like it ruins regular brushes)…but I’m intimidated by latex masking fluids just from jump (they all carry Caution Labels; breathing the fumes or touching the fluid can trigger sensitization and allergic reactions). Because the Colour Shapers are expensive, and I haven’t even been using watercolors recently, I let it go this time.

For my own reference, I also do have permanent masking fluid made with liquid wax, which is much safer and is likely what I would try on a first serious test of dealing with this stuff routinely. I had to use latex liquid frisket in Watercolor class, but still…it’s scary to me. Not to mention that it tore up my painting when I tried to get it off.

Also, I’m not sure that liquid wax will ruin brushes at all, the way latex will.

Anyhow. I’ve decided that I’m going to try working in graphite and colored pencil, again, in the sketchbooks I’ve got. I’m not entirely certain how I’m going to carry it (though I do have a satchel bought just for this purpose), but I feel the need to get back to my roots. That means “comic” work — though it usually isn’t funny. πŸ˜‰

I had mentioned a very long time ago on this blog, the possibility of doing watercolor underpaintings, and then working on top of that with colored pencil. I’m not sure if that would be sacrilege if the paints I’m using are in fact better quality than what I put on top… πŸ˜› …I think I’ll need to avoid the more toxic paints, at least.

Maybe this would actually be a good role for less expensive formulations, though, like the Reeves watercolors which are basically just lying around here unused (they’re M’s, and also really old). There are also my Pitt brush markers, which are fantastic for sketchbooks. And I have the Copics (greyscale) and Tombow markers, as well.

As for colored pencils…my collection begins before the year 2000 and includes Prismacolors (the oldest of which, I might want to replace if I get back into this: the newer ones seem to have much better covering power), Faber-Castell Polychromos, and Blick brand standard colored pencils.

I have one LYRA Color-Giant, which lets me know that the LYRA brand pencils are vulnerable to what looks like wax bloom (though I think they’re supposed to be oil-based, not wax-based?). I have also heard that Prismacolors are vulnerable to this, though I haven’t seen any noticeable bloom on any of my older work.

I’m leaving out the water-soluble pencils, but they would be useful on heavier paper.

So I guess there’s a basic decision there to go back to using dry media for practice and visualization purposes. Although charcoal would be useful, I don’t want to be sealing my sketchbooks, so I’m (reluctantly) going to avoid studies in charcoal within them. (I might still be able to use carbon black, though [maybe], and I’ll definitely be able to use black ink.)

The issue is that charcoal never really adheres well to the page unless a fixative is sprayed (or painted, in the case of underdrawings on intended acrylic paintings) over it. That means that the drawing degrades whenever the book is handled. Though charcoal has been wonderful for layout for me in the past, I hate dealing with spray fixative because of the odor, and I really don’t want to be breathing this stuff.

I can wear a respirator, but I’m uncertain I have the correct (organics?) cartridges to filter out what needs to be removed. (“Organics” probably corresponds to a certain 3M cartridge code, and I don’t know what that is, yet.)

I mean, even hairspray (Aqua Net) in lieu of a quality fixative, smells horrible in the quantities needed to seal a drawing.

My biggest deal right now is whether to go ahead and use my wood-cased soft graphite pencils (multiple brands, but mostly Faber-Castell), whether I want to use woodless graphite sticks in addition (Cretacolor Monolith), and whether I want to use graphite crayons (LYRA) on top of that.

The issue with the Monolith sticks is that they often have random hard bits embedded which scratch the paper. Not an issue when dealing with wet media, but certainly an issue if further work is to be done with colored pencil (the indentation will cause the pigment to skip over the scratch, leaving a light mark).

I haven’t yet found the same problem with the LYRA graphite crayons, but I’ve also not used the LYRAs very much. I do know that Faber-Castell makes wonderful soft graphite pencils, but they lack the impact and expression of either the Monoliths or the LYRAs, because their leads are so thin.


I guess it’s not a bad thing that I’m actually using up my pencils…

By the way, the image in the post linked here was made entirely with the Monolith woodless graphite sticks.

And I suppose it is a good thing that I have too many colored pencils, rather than not enough. But I really need to sort through them again. They’re still in order from my last major work with them, and that’s not great…

Also: Koh-I-Noor makes a set of Progresso woodless colored pencils very similar to Cretacolor’s Monolith woodless graphite pencils, which I would recommend if only for the fact that they lend much more expressive marks, in addition to the ability to “wash” an area with the flat of the side of the tip (if that makes sense).

No, they aren’t paying me. πŸ™‚ And no, you don’t need to buy them. πŸ™‚ But I might start carrying mine, with me. The issue is how to carry as little as possible, and still enough.

I think I feel better, now, after having written that and gone through my backposts. It’s good to have a sense of continuity. That is what I set this blog up for, in the first place…


A use, a frame, a narrative

A family member once told me that when they were in art classes, they could copy what they saw, but when they tried to draw from imagination, it was very hard for them.

I was thinking about this last night, as the image of an Artist Trading Card featuring the Golden Gate Bridge came to my mind. Some of the details of the insight that came along with this have been lost to…well, melatonin, let’s say…but I realized that having a use for my art would be one thing to motivate me to do it.

As well, the image was at least setting up a narrative, if it were not a narrative itself. That narrative framed the scope of the project. I did see the use of the bounds of the image as in some way a metaphor for the frame of the message it was intending to get across (even though I envisioned the interior of the design extending beyond the literal frame).

On top of that, the narrative takes precedence over realism, meaning that I don’t have to copy reality in order to get my narrative across.

I’m not sure if I’m making sense, here, but the idea for the image came from questioning if I had hot-press or plate watercolor paper on which to draw comic illustrations. (If not, I know I have Bristol board.) I think I need to lighten up on myself about whether I’m doing things “right,” and just start to do them. Then I can see where it goes, instead of stopping before I start because I don’t think I’m doing it correctly.

But I think having a use, a frame, and a narrative will help me narrow down the scope of what I do. I remember now that I had been considering using my steel-nib dip pens and black ink, and I thought that maybe having a constraint in my technique (such as: no pushing the nib forward to make lines, unless using a cartooning or calligraphy nib) would cut down on my creative options enough so that my content would be easier to express.

I’ve also wanted to get back into calligraphy. Not Japanese calligraphy, but English-language. There is one beautiful red-orange calligraphy ink I saw the other day, which piqued my interest (it looks as though it will contrast well with black).

I had one calligraphy book I was working through, which actually did improve my regular handwriting, as well as my decorative handwriting. And I can practice on top of translucent Layout paper, which will likely be a good solution (I used to send out letters to friends, written on translucent papers — it was just my style).

I also have an Ames Lettering Guide, from the time I wanted to work on comics.

I think I am just wanting to combine text and image, and text and narrative, again. The major thing that has stopped me in my studies of comics, and graphic novels, have been the dispositions of the comic authors I’d likely have to study to learn the craft. There’s a lot of politics, there.

Though I generally consider myself open-minded, sometimes things are just offensive to me — particularly historical work made for a nationalistic, non-minority audience (if you get my drift). I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except limit my exposure to more recent works and international works, to which I’m not so emotionally tied.

Anyhow, I have a thought of where to start.

Recovering my source

Alright, so I got, like, 10 minutes to my name. I wish I had brought something to write on/in. I wish I had access to my photograph library, and my paints and brushes — or my notes where I’d been trying to remember who I am (as flawed — or not — as that is) and working out what I can say and haven’t said.

Tapping into all that stuff last night made me remember. It’s like not having enough water, finally going to the effort to dig a well, and finding a spring right below the surface.

No, it isn’t what everyone would understand. But it’s me.

What I can say is that I know the Master’s program is preparing me for much more than Library work. I haven’t sought out what else I can use it for yet, though.

And I won’t even really know how to program (with, say, Javascript or PHP) until Summer Session, so I don’t know if it’s best to plan to be a Web Developer. But what I do best is be creative. To be creative, it probably isn’t fully necessary, but certainly helps — to recall my own identity. Even if I’m one of the only people to fully understand it.

Got to go.

Painting things, and new-semester jitters.

First, the art stuff:

Yes, this is a bit out of my comfort zone! Just a bit, though. πŸ™‚ I went back to a sketch of a monstera deliciosa leaf that I had started a while back. I had a couple of drawings which were relatively ready for color, and this one was least intimidating. πŸ˜‰

Of course, at the point at which I rejoined the conversation (between the drawing and I), it was just a line drawing. I erased the pencil lines behind the inking and knew that something was missing. I then went back in with hatching to better enable me to see what things might look like with value contrast:

sketch of a monstera deliciosa leaf, black and white

To the left is an image of what that looked like (likely a bit distorted by camera angle). I think that the fact that its shape recalls a human heart (and is called Monstera) is not coincidental. Nor was it intentional.

I’m not sure what more to say about that (there is a lot to say about that, but I don’t think now is the time or place).

I did work this largely from memory after checking online to see what monstera deliciosa leaves looked like (though this was a while ago). But it wasn’t from direct reference. Right now I want to work on a more complex arrangement of these leaves…

I’m also not sure whether I should be dealing with the process as is (pencil sketch β†’ inking β†’ value rendition in inking β†’ watercolor), or putting in an underpainting using something like diluted water-resistant black ink, or adding in dark tones at the very end using watercolors.

What I did didn’t seem to work out horribly, though:

monstera deliciosa inked sketch, colored

I used a range of colors, here…and…can’t remember them all…

(I can hardly remember what is what on my palette! I had to get out a card that had swatches painted on it and the color names on top…)

What I can say is that I used Prussian Blue along the left edge of the leaf (which had me wishing I had worked out more of the composition behind and around the leaf, as I wanted to go on), and a mix of Phthalo Blue and Permanent Magenta along the right side. They’re close enough so that the difference is very subtle (with the right side leaning violet, and the left, green).

I also did use Cobalt Turquoise Light in the leaf on the right side, which is why it looks so mottled (Cobalt Turquoise Light is a granulating color). I think it was a happy accident that the paint settled to produce a highlight on the right side. Most of the yellow (that wasn’t pre-mixed) is a light Hansa Yellow.

It would make sense to draw out a full sketch, maybe even in charcoal (or graphite + charcoal), to clarify composition and light source/shadows, and then deal with the painting. I have a feeling the cross-hatching won’t be as simple in that scenario, though, if I hatch at all. πŸ™‚ (:>) (*pip*)

Second: grad school restarts in a week!

In other realms, I’ve actually started to get ready for next semester. I still haven’t worked on arranging my portfolio…but I have started looking back into what I’ll need to know just to be able to access all my materials.

I came to the realization today that grad school is my actual “job,” for now. Yes, I get paid to do something else, but even though it’s related, it’s much lower-tier work. It is, in fact, work that someone without a high-school diploma can do. At work they’re encouraging me to take on a Clerk (1 tier up) or Assistant (2 tiers up) position.Β  Especially if I want to work on the back end of things (Information Technologist), I apparently need seniority to get dibs on openings. (or maybe I could just look outside of this system?)

The reason I’m not so hot on either of those choices, though, is that school is my top priority. Even though I am only in 10 units this semester (about 3/4 time), one of those classes is Database Management, and that doesn’t appear like it’s going to be a cake walk. Given my previous experience in this program, it will likely be possible to succeed, but that will also take time and a relative lack of frenzy.

I’ve been told that even nine units a semester is a lot to take on, but I want to be done with this as soon as possible. (If all goes well, I can graduate within a year.)

Also, both positions which I can move into deal extensively with the public — about four hours out of an eight-hour day — which is not where I want to be (now or ever), unfortunately.

I wasn’t extensively socialized as a baby because of a rash of kidnappings in the local area around the time of my birth, and the fact that I would have been seen as an “exotic” baby. I think that this led to some neural connections being unformed while my brain was still plastic (meaning that I probably can’t form those connections now).

Though I wouldn’t say it’s definitely the root cause of this, I have been told (by a psychiatric professional) — or rather, my family was told — that I exhibit autistic tendencies, though it isn’t severe enough to be categorized as “autistic.” In relation to this, dealing with people is one of the most difficult things I have to navigate. It’s not really that I have difficulty dealing with people because of autistic tendencies, moreso than knowing I have autistic traits names why I have trouble dealing with people.

It’s also a reason why I’m so much more comfortable dealing with other beings from behind a computer screen, or through text or art, where I don’t physically have to be there. πŸ˜‰ And that is why I’ve been aiming for Digital Services.

If I were braver, I’d ditch the “service” angle entirely and go straight for Web Programming and Information Architecture, but I’m not sure where I could put those skills to use — especially without a Computer Science background.

I have a Humanities background, though…I wonder where anyone gets the idea that majoring in the Humanities means you like dealing with humans. I like seeing what people make, and engaging with them on the level of text and cultural artifact…it lends me human connection while saving me from the anxiety of actually having to deal with them in-person.

In any case, Digital Services and Web Programming/IA overlap a great deal, though at this point I’m kind of wishing I took Digital Preservation last semester, rather than Digital Curation. They’re slightly different: Preservation is more hands-on while Curation is more management-orientedΒ  — which I wish I had known! (if I don’t like dealing with people, why would I likeΒ managing them?) I would have known, had I reached out to a counselor, but I just went ahead and did my own thing…which is kind of consistent with my character, actually…

Playing with color mixing

Last night’s project did inspire me to see what kind of a color gamut I’d be able to produce with gouache (opaque watercolor). I also took note of the fact that colors mixed using the same pigments tend to harmonize.

With that in mind, and also knowing that I didn’t know my gouache well enough to tell how each color related to the next, tonight I just sat down and started painting out and mixing colors (without attempting to do anything like the lightfastness chart I completed last night for my transparent watercolors).

prismatic (rainbow) color mixing chart
I seem to have missed an intense red-violet and yellow-green. Right now I’m wondering what kind of muted colors and chromatic greys I can get out of this prismatic range.

It’s probably immediately apparent that I seem to be interested in cool colors more than warm ones. The above chart was made using seven colors, all Holbein with the exception of Permanent Rose and Intense Blue, which are Winsor & Newton brand:

  1. Permanent Rose
  2. Primary Magenta
  3. Ultramarine Light
  4. Intense Blue
  5. Peacock Blue
  6. Lemon Yellow
  7. Permanent White

Pretty much all the colors in the image are mixed rather heavily with Permanent White, so that the colors can actually be recognized. Both of the brands of paint I used here don’t have white as a filler in the gouache itself (neither does M. Graham & Co.). This is a sign of quality. It also means that the paint often needs to be mixed with white for both opacity, and for the color to be visible: I can see that if I use these often, I will likely need white in a larger quantity.

However, I don’t need it yet.

Peacock Blue is the only paint here which contains more than one pigment in its tube (there is some Phthalo Green mixed in there along with Phthalo Blue), and is also the only paint containing a pigment which isn’t essentially a primary color.

I used three blues, here, because I wanted to see what they would do. Intense Blue is a Phthalo color, while Ultramarine Light is…what it looks like. I wanted to see if I could make clear violets out of it, and the answer is apparently yes.

The Ultramarine I had experience with, prior, was Ultramarine Deep — it makes violets so dark (close to black) that I haven’t made the time to properly dilute them to see their actual character. Ultramarine can come with a green or violet bias. It looked like Ultramarine Deep was a violet-bias paint while Ultramarine Light was a green-bias paint, but the latter still works well for violets (apparently!). It just needs a nice violet-leaning reddish color like Permanent Rose or Primary Magenta.

I tried to mix colors which I thought would be adjacent to each other on the color wheel — so, for instance, I didn’t try mixing violets with Phthalo Blue as a component. Not yet.

Something that did surprise me is that Permanent Rose (top left corner) plus Lemon Yellow make a color extremely similar to Flame Red, even though both Permanent Rose and Lemon Yellow are on the cool side of the color gamut for both red and yellow. Flame Red, however, is a warm, intense red-orange. The mixture I’m referencing is in the lower left corner of the image above, and closer in color to Winsor & Newton’s Flame Red than Holbein’s Flame Red.

Given that…I am wondering if I got Peacock Blue because it was close to cyan, or just because it was pretty…the fact that red can be mixed from magenta + yellow is something I had heard about but not experienced, until now. (I’m talking about the CMYK system of color mixing, where red is not seen as a true primary color because you can get red from magenta + yellow, but you can’t derive magenta from anything we presently know of.)

Alright, I’ve talked enough tonight. I’m kind of itching to get back to my planning journal — I’ve been making notes about the content of future posts without the necessity of actually publishing them, yet. The fact that I had discovered that Web Production could be a full-time job is part of what I mentioned last night…essentially it’s like being an editor, but online.

That would be a really interesting outlet, I think! It involves the generation and development of ideas, content, and — likely, if my instruction in Marketing serves — the questions of relevance to the organization’s goals and user base. This would be in contrast to making the website functional (Web Development), or making it aesthetically pleasing and communicate in a user-friendly manner (Web Design).

I generally shy away from being in charge of things, but I could see myself working in a Web Production capacity, especially if I were passionate about the project…

Lightfastness testing chart, final version

I completed my watercolor lightfastness testing chart tonight, though it hasn’t spent time in direct sunlight, yet. Apologies for the poor lighting in the photo documentation (this all took place after dark)!

There is, I think, a lot I’ve learned from this project (and the phase of exposing this to daylight, has barely begun). I’ve been trying to get this chart done before school starts up, but if last semester was any hint, I might want to start studying now. πŸ˜›

Anyhow, below is what I’ve currently got:

watercolor lightfastness testing chart -- final version

The majority of these colors are Winsor & Newton brand, with notable departures (which, for your sake, I feel the need to get to, below).

For those who have been following this project, I did make it out earlier to get a Pyrrole Orange pigment — this is PO73, in the far right column. (I also got a better Raw Umber: both Daniel Smith and M. Graham had online swatches with nice flow.) I had planned to get a W&N color, but second-guessed myself when I saw that M. Graham & Co. also made a Scarlet Pyrrol with the same pigment (which I had skipped over and just not seen, online. One of the downsides of the Web is that you don’t see what you don’t see…).

I don’t think it totally replaces Grumbacher’s Vermilion Deep (just to its left in the chart above), but then again, I’m having less and less faith in that paint performing well. I did try again to paint Vermilion Deep out tonight, to see if the lack of wet-in-wet flow was something I wasn’t doing right, or if it was a characteristic of the paint itself. At this point, I think the latter is true.

Nor does it really give me any reassurance to know that the paint is made of four separate pigments (as I realized when making pigment notes on those black papers [Strathmore ArtAgain coal black paper — acid-free and heavy], though I just now realize that those papers may well fade in the sunlight as well as the paints! and that in turn could compromise the protection for the paints underneath the flaps…not to mention the visibility of my pigment notes).

Ah, right: I also just now realize that no one here really knows what I did. I thought I took photos during my working process tonight, but I must have forgotten to turn on the camera–! Seriously, I took the camera out, and everything. I don’t know what happened, except maybe I forgot to take pictures and thought I did, or had a critical user error. (I don’t think it’s a problem with my camera!)

Right now I have photos of every sample cut out and rearranged from their prior order (photos shown last post), with the little black rectangular shielding papers attached by a Scotch Tape hinge, and secured by a little more tape over the white part of the swatch. Then, I have photos of everything stuck down with a roll of tape on the back of each sample, which I should be able to remove. I just bit it and stuck it to a piece of Bristol board, too, which is good in that it gives structure to the piece. It’s just likely unnecessarily expensive.

The final product is what you see, above.

Less about the process and more about what I learned: it was very enlightening to note down the pigment codes of everything I had, because then I could see what I didn’t actually need.

For instance, Sap Green (PG36 + PY110) should be able to be produced by a mix of Phthalo Green [Yellow Shade] (PG36) with Isoindolinone Yellow (PY110) — which I have, now. What I’m paying for is basically for the company to discover and mix it for me, unless I didn’t have and didn’t want either of its parent pigments; or this is one of those cases like Permanent Magenta (PV19) and Permanent Rose (PV19) sharing the same pigment code and apparently just being different variants of chemicals similar enough to be classified as the same thing. (See the lower right corner of the above photo for an illustration.)

I also realized that W&N Payne’s Grey and W&N Indigo look harmonious because they’re a mix of three of the same pigments, just in different proportions. I had mentioned the harmony recently — likely in my last post, or the one just before it. That is, the colors looked like they were in a range (and I guess they were).

Also, W&N Burnt Umber seems to be a mix of other earth pigments…which makes me want to investigate what actual Burnt Umber looks like.


Okay, so what is not Winsor & Newton brand? Working from right to left, and top to bottom:

  1. The Raw Umber at the upper right corner (M. Graham & Co.): PBr7
  2. Lamp Black (Holbein): PBk6
  3. Prussian Blue (Daniel Smith): PB27
  4. Cerulean Blue Chromium (Daniel Smith): PB36
  5. Hansa Yellow (M. Graham & Co.): PY3
  6. Isoindoline Yellow Deep (Holbein): PY110
  7. Scarlet Pyrrol (M. Graham & Co.): PO73
  8. Vermilion Deep (Grumbacher): PR188, PR173, PR209, PY3
  9. Rose Madder (Mijello Mission Gold): PR176

The photo above is also sideways; paint names are visible to the left of the color painted, but I thought the pigment codes were likely more valuable — and visible — than the paint names (some of which, like “Phthalo Blue” instead of “Winsor Blue,” I’ve altered as I can memorize them).

And finally, those two out of order in the lower right corner are colors that I’ve decided not to use for now (various reasons), but am testing them for lightfastness anyway, as it may become valuable information in the future (particularly as regards PO62, which is in another mix on this palette [W&N Indian Yellow: PO62, PY139]).

I don’t regret getting Scarlet Pyrrol at all, at this point. It’s a beautiful color and harmonizes nicely with Permanent Rose and Winsor Yellow, at the least. I’m also softening up on the Winsor & Newton Cotman (as versus Professional) Cadmium Orange Hue, at least until I can see if it fades. It’s not terrible, but it is the only student-grade paint in this chart. That said, with the caveat that its lightfastness is to be determined, it performs better than some of the artist-grade paints.

At this point, I’m wondering what would happen if I took all the convenience mixes away: what would I have left in single-pigment paints, and could I get by with that? (Probably! But I would also probably start filling the spaces in my palette with other single-pigment paints, to mix colors I couldn’t get otherwise…)

I have more material to write about: particularly that producing web content could be a full-time job, aside from the web development and design angles; targeting an audience (a.k.a. remembering who you are); subject matter for art; and how I have begun to remember who I am (those last three things are entangled)…but I’ve written enough for tonight.

I will set this to post at 7:30 my time. For now (it’s 2:30 AM here), I can get some rest.

Continuation: lightfastness chart photos

Thinking back on it, maybe it would have been best to delay gratification and combine this post and the last, into one. πŸ™‚ In any case, I do now have photos.

color chart (aided by Photoshop)
I used Photoshop to cut out the two empty rows on the left, between the reds and blues.

I’ve opted for a more natural look to this, instead of trying to make the white of the paper as close as possible to the white of the screen, which distorts the colors a bit. There is a brightness adjustment added to this, but that’s all.

I’ll be identifying the colors by Row (top to bottom) and Column (left to right), for my international readers…I realize this might not be immediately apparent.

I also need to let you know a bit of errata: Viridian (Row 4, Column 5) isn’t a cobalt color, it’s a chromium color. I have a pattern of confusing one for the other…

Last night, I was also mistaken in saying that Vermilion Deep was the only paint in which I got brush strokes: Raw Umber (Row 3, Column 6) did it too, but I don’t expect much from Raw Umber, at this point (maybe I should try a different brand).

Anyhow: see that Winsor Orange (Row 2, Column 4)? Gah. It’s just terrible compared to the majority of the colors. Because my Winsor Orange tube also has a cracked cap and wanted to gush when I tried getting the cap off the tube (it was stuck and I had to really work to get it off)...and it grays out really quickly once I try to mix it…I’m not entirely certain what I’m going to do with it. Maybe I’ll go to an artists’ meetup and conveniently forget it/donate it…

blue test swatches

This time, swatching out the blues did produce an effect that is visible on a computer monitor (…I think?). Some of these colors, though…

I was working wet-into-wet, here. With a fully loaded brush, sometimes the paint dispersed immediately to leave the area I intended to mark heavily, leaving mid-range coverage in its wake. With some paints, like Cobalt Blue (second from the top, to the left), the paint actually seemed to try to cover the entire area evenly, instead of in a gradation. This would be a good thing if you were using it for a sky, which this color is almost perfect for (unless you didn’t want a blue sky!).

I had been trying to produce gradations to see what finer applications of the colors might do under sunlight.

One of the things I am impressed with, though, is the beauty of the colors which are more muted, here. I think I started out in class with French Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, and Phthalo Blue (Green Shade). Cerulean Blue Chromium, Prussian Blue, and Indanthrene Blue were all later additions.

I’ve mentioned before that I read on that indanthrene/indanthrone can be approximated by a mix of Phthalo Blue with Quinacridone Violet (a.k.a. Permanent Magenta, in Winsor & Newton’s range: Row 6, Column 1) — check the notes under PB60 (Pigment Blue 60). I’ve tried this, and it does work, though the mix is obviously going to vary in shade depending on proportions.

I can also see myself working with Prussian Blue more, in the future. I believe I got this to try and mix decent greens…with my memory being unclear on whether it actually helps, though I think it does.

swatches of red paints

To the right, here, are the reds I’ll be testing. The relative character of Permanent Rose does, I think, come through — though this is still a bit of a dull capture. I’m looking at it now under an artificial light and it seems to almost glow. (This is Winsor & Newton’s formulation: different companies have a tendency to call the same pigments by different names.)

The top two, Rose Madder and Alizarin Crimson, are known to change color over time; hence they’re called fugitive pigments. I’m doing the lightfastness test to see how bad this actually is.

Incidentally…those two colors are related. They were originally derived from Madder (a plant) — Alizarin Crimson is one of two components that make up its color…

Anyway, the top swatch is Mijello Mission Gold — I got it as a bonus when I bought my palette. But even here, they acknowledged that it is not great so far as longevity…The second swatch, Alizarin Crimson, is Winsor & Newton brand. I’m not crazy about it, when there are alternatives.

I really like the Winsor Red (fourth from the top), after all this time. This was our “warm” red in Watercolor class (using a split-primary palette), though it barely leans to either a warm or cool direction. (Permanent Rose was our cool red.)

I’m not sure what to do with Vermilion Deep, though as I said last post, I’m going to try and find a better-quality paint. This one had almost no flow, and I’m not sure if it’s due to age (I got it on Amazon, who knows how old it is) or formulation. Maybe the page was just too dry?

Permanent Magenta isn’t showing up in the photograph, all that well…but I just checked another file and it’s similarly distorted. Permanent Magenta is basically a red-leaning violet color, more than a violet-leaning red. There’s an earthiness that it shares with Indanthrene Blue, which one might expect…

When mixing two pigment colors — like Permanent Magenta and Phthalo Blue (excluding fluorescent colors [which absorb light and re-emit it at different wavelengths], duochrome paints [which look different depending on one’s viewing angle] and complex things like dichroic glass [which both transmit and reflect light, though this may be an entirely different animal]) — the result of the mix reflects frequencies of light that have to be reflected by both (?) of the colors which went into it, unless I’m mistaken.

The basis of subtractive color (as used in non-digital painting) is that we perceive color as the leftovers of the light absorbed. The frequencies of reflected and emitted light, taken together, our brains interpret as a specific color. So Permanent Magenta reflects many wavelengths (colors of light), which my brain interprets as predominantly warm violet, with red. And Phthalo Blue reflects many wavelengths, which my brain interprets as deep blue with a hint of green.

When pigments are mixed, what is left over after both pigments subtract what they will of the light present, is the new color. In other words, a color very close to Indanthrene Blue is the light which was not absorbed by both Permanent Magenta and Phthalo Blue. Magenta absorbs some of what Blue doesn’t; Blue absorbs some of what Magenta doesn’t.

The forward result is a deep, inky blue with both violet and green tones supporting it, closer to black (black means no light is reflected), which makes sense…though I’m not sure I could do the math now to support why I think it does make sense. The following is just hypothetical:

On a scale from white (100%) to black (0%) — we’re talking about value, now —

Some light is subtracted from 100% with Magenta (Magenta would have a negative value); and more light is subtracted with Magenta + Blue (Blue would also have a negative value; the addition of a negative value is the same as subtraction). Even though this is not simple subtraction (after all, we are talking about many, many frequencies of light which are being tweaked individually), if Black = 0% and both Magenta and Blue subtract their part from 100% (white light), it seems feasible to state that:

close up of Permanent Magenta, Phthalo Blue, and Indanthrene Blue in greyscale

Magenta + Blue < Magenta, and

Magenta + Blue < Blue.

Wow, that was hard to get out. And I might be wrong, or maybe I should go into Chemistry + Optics…

There is the remaining fact that my Phthalo Blue swatch is indeed darker than my Indanthrene Blue swatch. I’m thinking that this has to do largely with the density of its application, not to mention the intensity of Phthalo Blue pigment, which has to be severely diluted to get to the point where we can even see that it’s blue. I do see that Indanthrene is grayer, though, and I wonder if that matters…

I’ve just looked at the image in greyscale, but I’m not sure that helps…

It doesn’t help, either, that my camera didn’t totally pick up the intensity of the Phthalo Blue application. I’m not sure why.

To get back on track, then…there are the yellows. I kind of am irritated at myself for not planning their placement out better, and it’s to the point that I don’t want to cut them out and rearrange them on Photoshop. But if you scroll back up to the top of the page, or better yet, if I re-post that image below:

color chart (aided by Photoshop)

…you can see that Isoindoline Yellow Deep (PY110), Indian Yellow (PO62, PY139 — just realized that this is a mix of Winsor Orange [!] and a different variant of Isoindoline Yellow), Winsor Yellow Deep (PY65) all look very similar.

For the cool yellows, Winsor Yellow (PY154), Hansa Yellow (PY3), and Aureolin (PY40) are hard to tell apart, here: but it’s not so bad in person — at least, when the sun is up!

Then there are the oranges, neither of which I’m too fond of, but Cadmium Orange Hue did save me from having to mix orange from the limited pigments we were allowed, in Watercolor class. It’s possible that the intensity of Cadmium Orange just can’t be gotten out of the colors we had. Maybe I should stop looking toward the yellows for the source of the problem, and try mixing more with an orangish, warm red, instead of a middling red.

At Green Gold (Row 3, Column 4), the yellows start morphing into greens. I feel the need to suggest that perhaps what I had mentioned before about mixing an alternative in acrylics from Bronze Yellow + an Earth Yellow + a blue, may have been off point. You see, Green Gold doesn’t look like it’s meant to be used on its own, but rather sparingly, to do things like warm up greens. It looks fairly horrific on its own and in high density, but look at this:


This is something I was playing with, a while back (hence the example number, I just pulled this from my archives): apologies for the lack of realism (it wasn’t the point of this exercise). Green Gold is what I used to heat up the right side of that leaf. It’s also transparent, so it’s very suited for this.

I don’t think that a mixture approximating what one sees in the tube or applied heavily, really gets close to what one would use Green Gold for. As I said a while back, Green Gold is a very expensive pigment. But I can see that a little goes a long way.

It wouldn’t have come to me so soon, except that in my latest play, I rinsed the Green Gold watercolor paint off of my palette and saw it form an almost neon yellow-green color in high dilutions in the sink. This isn’t something that’s meant to be used as-is, but rather combined with other colors.

I also really want to get into trying to mix more greens, so I can stop dealing with the question of how to create a yellow-leaning green. This is part of why I got Sap Green, unless I’m mistaken (I think the only green we were allowed in class was Viridian…which at the time, I hated. Not so much, now).

Speaking of Viridian, I’ve been advised not to let it dry long-term on a palette. I took this advice and kept it out of my Mijello palette; however, this also means that it goes forgotten, a lot of the time. But I don’t want it to become like Burnt Umber and just become a free-floating rock whose composition I have to guess at. (Burnt Umber still rehydrates beautifully; it just rattles around as — well — a rock, in dry form.)

three granulating green to green-blue pigments

I have an appreciation for Cobalt Turquoise now, that I don’t think I could have predicted. These two colors — Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light — are heavily granulating colors. I’m not sure if I’ve played with them too much, but the three pigments to the right are ones that are relatively intriguing for me, right now.

Particularly, it may be possible to get a more vivid range of greens by starting with a lighter-valued intense pigment like Cobalt Turquoise Light.

Also: Indigo and Payne’s Grey…are two colors that kind of wow me, now. Payne’s Grey is a cool-toned color which is almost, but not quite, black. If black brackets one end of a color range, Payne’s Grey would sit between it and Indigo.

The Indigo color I have is Winsor & Newton, and it isn’t actually true indigo dye (as real indigo is fugitive, this being why jeans fade).

Aside from this, I feel the need to mention, if briefly, Dioxazine Violet (Row 2, Column 5)…which is probably not a necessary color on this palette, now.

Earth tone paint swatches

And the entire column to the left of this passage, including Payne’s Grey, is composed of earth tones. The only one of these that I’m questioning the utility of is Raw Umber, because what I’m seeing in my photos and on my paper is what I’d consider, fairly…well, bad. I’m not sure if it’s me or the paint, or the amount of water on the paper…but I think it’s the paint. This is Winsor & Newton, as well.

The thing about Raw Umber is that I’ve been looking at paint swatches of different brands online, and they don’t all look alike. I’m not entirely sure…what causes that? but there are definitely versions which are bluer than others. In Color Dynamics class, we made a mixture of Ultramarine plus Raw Umber to produce a blend which could dull down colors without causing them to lose their essential character (or “hue,” if you would like me to be direct). πŸ™‚

And in Watercolor class, we didn’t even use earth tones; we mixed them by utilizing a strategy of mixing across the color wheel (as I’ve mentioned [somewhere] before, this will result in muted colors, ranging into chromatic greys). I’m really not sure if anyone liked doing it. πŸ˜‰ But earth pigments are a nice shortcut if you don’t want to mix skin tones out of three primaries. πŸ˜›

The nice part about mixing watercolors is that if you use a white palette, you can see what color you’re coming up with before you ever put it on the paper (though that can’t always be exactly accurate — I’ve seen artists online make test marks on the edges of their drawings. I used to make test marks on the facing pages of the sketchbooks…).

After all of that — unless my light, here, has already faded some of this, I should be moving on to putting black strips over the faces of the swatches. I’m probably also going to be doing some cutting in the process…which will likely be at least a little nerve-wracking, because I haven’t completely gotten the hang of not having my knife veer off course, yet!

Anyhow, that’s for another day…