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. 😛

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.

Completed color layout for lightfastness test (no photos yet)

It will kind of be hard to talk about this without a photo, but the stuff’s just finished drying. 😛 I also kind of screwed it up by not planning it out enough, the other night, when I began.

I should mention that I didn’t follow a method I found online or in a book — tonight was just spent swatching out colors. I’ve planned on using black acrylic paint to block out light, using watercolor paper as a surface and laying this on top of the swatches.

It turns out, I have exactly 36 watercolors I would imagine using (or 35 plus Lamp Black, fine distinction). I still haven’t gotten to the gouache, or to the part of this which involves blocking out sunlight.

As yet, I’m undecided as to whether to even take the risk of exposing Prussian Blue to strong direct sunlight…I’ve read online that strong UV exposure can release cyanide gas. Plus, I’d never put a painting in the line of direct sunlight if I could manage it, and these days, having direct sunlight hitting a wall for extended periods of time is rare and only an issue on east walls, near a window, at sunset (a luxury afforded by having blinds instead of curtains, I suppose).

Also, I found that I have several orange-leaning yellows that look alike (although they’re of different formulations), and only one red-orange, which is…not the greatest-handling watercolor I’ve ever used (this is Grumbacher Finest Vermilion Deep — the only watercolor I tested to leave visible brush strokes tonight [though also the only Grumbacher Finest in my collection — the Grumbacher Academy student-grade paints are actually really nice, for the price, so I was interested in their artist-grade formulas]).

This could explain my difficulty in producing strong oranges; the “orange” pigments I have are closer to yellow-orange, with the exception of W&N Cotman Cadmium Orange Hue (the only Cotman I’m using, and that because it performs noticeably better than W&N Professional Winsor Orange).

I’m looking at some kind of Pyrrole Scarlet or Pyrrole Orange (PO73) to try and open up the warm, clear red-oranges, though I’m not sure this is necessary. (I actually have my eye on Winsor Orange Red Shade, which to me looks closer to red.) Basically, I’m after something that is a similar hue to Cadmium Red Light, but without the cadmium. I’ve vented about cadmium salts before; the most I’ll say here is that they’re unacceptably toxic to me, right now.

I have the Vermilion Deep (which is a convenience mixture), plus Winsor Red (another Pyrrole, PR254), but those are the only neutral or warm reds that I have: everything else leans violet (though that’s not saying much when two of those cool reds are Rose Madder [Mijello Mission Gold] and Alizarin Crimson [Winsor & Newton Professional], both of which are said to be fugitive).

I can, also, add a golden yellow or “orange” to red to make it more red-orange; my problem is that I’m not sure how lightfast any of those yellows are (which is a reason to do the lightfastness testing). And I only have one decent orange…which is a convenience mixture, because I haven’t wanted to use Cadmium Orange. (I’ve been reading that it’s best to use single-pigment paints when possible, to avoid “mud”, though honestly I haven’t run across that problem yet.)

Still, though, it would be nice to have one red-orange workhorse, and the flow of my Vermilion Deep is disappointing, compared to everything else I used, tonight. This is with the possible exception of Isoindolinone Yellow Deep (Holbein), which backflowed unexpectedly for me while drying (although this was the first time I used it — maybe a greater degree of skill is needed with Holbein’s formulations); and Winsor Orange (which I just really don’t like. When you see the photo, you’ll see one reason why).

Winsor Orange is actually made with an entirely different pigment than Winsor Orange Red Shade, by the way…

One thing I did really unexpectedly enjoy was seeing the performance of some of the cobalt colors I have. Yes, I know, cobalt’s toxic, too; but I’m not as concerned about it, having needed to work with it in the past.

In particular, shades of Viridian through Cobalt Turquoise Light…then also dealing with Cerulean (though I have Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue Chromium, which isn’t a standard Cerulean) and Cobalt Blue…I just want to DO something with those, you know?

The Ceruleans, Viridian, and Cobalt Turquoise and Cobalt Turquoise Light are all colors whose pigments clump together (this means they “granulate,” unless “flocculate” is the more accurate term, I’m not certain), and so they produce really interesting textures. There is also a common thread here in that all these colors are based on cobalt — which has a color range that really astonishes me: from yellow to green through blue and violet (at least so far as I’m currently aware).

There’s also the difficulty here that some cobalt colors (like my Cerulean Blue Chromium [PB36, “Cobalt Chromite Blue Green Spinel”]) will react poorly with certain other pigments (in this case, Winsor Yellow [PY154, Benzimidazolone Yellow])…I don’t know why. I’m not a chemist. But it leads to immediate strong granulation (visible even before laying down the paint) and poor adhesion to the paper.

I’m sure there’s some way of helping the paints stay down (like maybe mixing some type of glue [like nikawa, or animal glue] with the paint), but I did get rid of my test paper where this occurred because I was more concerned about keeping the pigment from finding its way into anyone’s system and making them sick, than keeping records. Cobalt is a heavy metal, so it’s not safe to get it everywhere. I just also read that like cadmium, it can’t be chelated out of one’s body; so it’s best to contain it, when possible.

And I almost didn’t get around to saying this, but almost immediately after I finished this chart, I wanted to redo it in a more organized fashion. Seriously, once I realized that I stuck one of my only orange paints right in a column of yellow paints…gah. Or, right after I came back to this today and realized I’d want to organize this by column instead of row, and could not “erase” the paints I’d already laid down…and then penciled in what went where as best I could and then realized I’d not foreseen everything, despite it.

It seems silly to make an art project out of categorizing and organizing colors, but I’m pretty sure that the tendency to want to do so is an effect of my job (for newcomers to the blog, I work in a library as support staff). And at this point, I’m resisting (for the moment) cutting these apart and re-ordering them, because it will make things more of a pain when I put the light-blocking strips on top.

I guess I’ll see how I feel about this, tomorrow…(well, technically, after some sleep).

Re-entering acrylic painting

I did start on a painting in acrylics, today. It’s a small (4″x6″ canvas board) work, very much in its natal stages, but it’s something. In the process I started playing around with mixing (canvas pads are handy), as I had a couple of ideas as to where to go, color-wise, but needed to work out whether or not my choices would be feasible.

One thing I can say: Cerulean plus Phthalo Blue make a really nice blue base to work from, together. I didn’t print out a color version of the photo I’m working from…I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, frankly! I may be edging more blue-green and red-orange than the original photo, but then, I don’t have to make it like the photo.

I might try redrawing the original photo in my art journal in a number of different compositions, to see what is working in that photo that I like, and what’s unnecessary. I have already started this, in a way, by redrawing the image on the canvas board. I have wanted to do this by just marking out areas of color with brush pens, and then seeing where that leaves the composition.

(There is another use for that Marker paper I was talking about!)

The image I’m working from (in this case) is below. I do have a good number of these little canvas boards (they were sold in a 5-pack), so I have room to experiment.

orange bell-shaped flowers on green stems with a bud
I’m pretty sure I took this photo at a Garden Center.

As it was, tonight, I started out by drawing from a grid, then gessoed over that, then painted over that. My lines are fast disappearing, though I have a tendency to use even heavy-body acrylic paints like watercolors. So I have a couple of thin layers of gesso and paint, on top of the underdrawing. (If I had thought to do so, it might have been better to make an underpainting with pastel, seal it with Glazing Medium, then work on top of that, instead of using pencil for outlines — which, in practicality, doesn’t tell me much.)

Watercolor-like use of the paint isn’t intentional, on my part. If I continue to do it, I should probably use Glazing Medium so that the paint doesn’t just come off. I’ve never had it happen (aside from when one of my instructors scrubbed through my paint film), but I’ve been told it can happen.

flowers in greyscaleNow that I see this photo again — maybe I should print it in color. It will, at least, tell me what tones are where, and the color and value juxtapositions make up a large part of what I find appealing, I think. Plus, without color, it’s hard to tell leaves apart from flowers, since they’re both near the same values (“value”=the lightness or darkness of a color or tone, as if the image were a black-and-white Xerox copy).

I have come to the place where I’m fairly certain that I want to work with abstraction, now or in the future, but I’m not sure about how to do it. I do have one book which may help me (Abstract Art Painting: Expressions in Mixed Media), which I suppose is a start: but I can’t let it be an end.

And yes, I am looking at this image and realizing that I can likely add some color information and make it into a duochrome (instead of monochrome) image…I just don’t know exactly how I would do that, yet, or if my version of Photoshop supports that capability.

I can see that the juxtaposition of areas of high and low value at the top (and minorly, bottom right) of the image make it stronger. I love the orange against the yellow-green tones, and how that makes the blossoms step forward. I also love the diagonal alignment of the orange flowers, and the globular forms created by the converging petals. I’m not really crazy about the green bud in the center (I think my camera must have insisted on making that the focal point), but I have noted that I like to paint living flowers, as versus cut or silk ones. The diagonal alignments of the stems move the eye around the page…

…and I think that’s a good start as to what draws me to this photo.

There has been other stuff that happened today, but I’m just now realizing that it’s nearly 12:45 AM, and I should be getting some rest (I’ve been trying to keep my immunity up!).

I should note, though, in closing: tonight, I realized that acrylic paints are very up to the task, if I want to work abstractly. I think I just have to be brave enough to do it. The worst that can happen is that I get a painting (more likely, paintings) that I don’t like…but I have to go through those to learn how to make the ones that I do like.

One week since the beginning of Break…

It’s only today that I realize it’s been about a week since my last posting. I’ve been busy moving things around, and cleaning. (By “moving things around,” I mean sorting through all the papers in my office, and sorting through everything in the bathroom. Also, going through the books on my main bookcase to organize them by approach and theme.)

This started with my cleaning and organization of the craft table, because I needed space to cut a sheet (or roll) of tinted acetate and didn’t have room for the cutting mat or the roll. Right now things are OK down there — space is usable — but it isn’t optimal.

I also went through everything in the drawers in my bathroom, and beneath the drawers in my bathroom. Anything which could spoil, which I couldn’t remember buying in the last 6 months, I was told was fine to throw away. Particularly, used makeup, which can cause infection if there have been bacteria growing in it and then one applies it to one’s face. (I also shaved down my old eyeliners [which I hadn’t been using], and threw out what had dried out.)

The only reason I started thinking about makeup is that I did have a job interview, a couple of days ago (which was the last big thing to get out of the way before I could have true relief). I did mostly go to the interview in order to gain practice and not be kicked off of the qualifying list, but I am not certain what I would do if I were offered the job. Nothing to do but wait now, I guess.

And I have realized by now…that having expanded piercings is kind of like having tattoos. I didn’t really “get it” until a couple of days ago, though.

I was able to get that Quinacridone Magenta paint I wanted! (I haven’t tried it out yet, though.) I’m hoping that it will give me clearer violets than either Permanent Rose or Alizarin Crimson. There was a complicating factor in that I went in to buy a tube of Winsor & Newton Quinacridone Magenta gouache (opaque watercolor), and they were totally out of that color!

I did recall that W&N’s Quinacridone Magenta’s pigment code is PR122, though, and that I did have a backup choice in Holbein gouache. What I didn’t know is that Holbein’s “Primary Magenta” color is PR122 (I found this out at the store) and at least from what I’ve seen online, is extremely close to Winsor & Newton’s “Quinacridone Magenta.” The major difference is that the W&N Quin. Magenta is bluer than the Holbein Primary Magenta, so there may still be a use in waiting for the W&N at another time.

Anyway, this is just a continuation of the Color Dynamics website that I wanted to put up on the Web (but which was much too voluminous in scope and content to use simply as a final project in my Web Design class).

It’s fairly apparent by now, though, that if I want to publish a full site to the Web…I’ll have to rent some server space, which is not something I’ve arranged yet. It would also help to know what I was doing when setting up that server space, though I have been doing some study to prepare me for that.

I had wanted to continue working on this project to help me build skills in Web Design! Now that the pressure’s off, though…hmm. I haven’t touched it in at least a week. But during that week, well…I’ve been going to work, organizing stuff, cleaning, and shopping.

We did go to Nihon Machi (Japantown) recently, where I found a retrospective book on Emigre (the “type foundry”) which goes back to 1986. It cost a bit, but I was like, “when am I going to find this again,” and I didn’t want to buy it from Amazon. (It does seem that having an in-person store is a service.) I’ve read that experience with typography is one of the only things I need to know that I don’t know, if I want to be a Web Designer. I don’t think that knowledge of typography is one of those things that goes out of date, though.

I also found a book called Everyday Watercolor (from a different bookstore), which looks really interesting! I haven’t been able to look deeply into it yet, though, because I’ve been cleaning. What’s annoying is that in my cleaning the bathroom, I apparently disturbed something that was hungry (likely a spider) that bit up my legs and caused an emergency cleaning of both my bedroom and my office. So I haven’t been able to get as deeply into things as I would have liked.

I also replaced the Borden & Riley marker paper that I’ve almost used up. On the trip, I should have taken something printed, if not the old pad itself — translucency is key to this stuff being of use to me. If I had something to view through the paper, it would have made my choices easier.

The marker paper I had was like a very high-quality tracing paper. What I found at the store under the same name, however, was not the same product. The type of paper which is under the same brand name now seems to be different (more opaque, thicker, whiter) than it was when I bought my last pad.

Because of this, I did a slight shift and got two pads of paper which I hope will replace the Marker paper qualitatively (as I don’t really care if the markers bleed — but the fact that they had “No Bleed-Thru” paper that bled, is likely why they decided to sacrifice transparency). Borden & Riley is relatively inexpensive, which actually helps me be creative (because I don’t especially have a fear of wasting materials).

One of the pads is Borden & Riley #110M Technical Vellum (which is sized to be easily Xeroxed, at 8.5″x11″); the other is #37 Boris Marker Layout, 9″x11″. The new #37 appears more translucent than the old #37 Layout paper.

I’ve also been going through my photo archives, and have a couple of images that would be nice to work through in painting, both variants of the same basic photo. One of them can be a 4″x6″ panel in acrylic…unfortunately, these dimensions (2:3) are not common in larger sizes, at least here. However, I can do a larger version in 11″x14″, easily — and I’m thinking of doing that one in watercolors. The major issue with the latter is paper buckling, so I’m going to have to figure out how to map a 10.5″x13.5″ space out on the photo (0.25″ will be masked out on all sides to hold the paper down)…ehhh…

Yeah, that’s not going to be the most fun thing ever. But it will give me some Photoshop practice.

And yes, using inches as measurements is a pain. I haven’t yet done the research to answer the question of why letter-sized paper is 8.5″x11″ (I have a feeling it’s some historical quirk), but it’s been bothering me recently.

Also…I have a very good library to go through if I ever get bored. I’ve just got to remember that it’s there. I’ve also got to filter out things I will likely never read or reference. In particular, I have a couple of books on HTML and Web Design which have got to be fairly dated by now (they were bought by a family member, a while ago: copyrights 1998 and 1999, to be exact).

Yes, I think that if someone could have been born and graduated from high school in between the time those books were written and the time I’m looking at them, it may signal that an update is needed. The HTML book is on Version 3.2. We’re on HTML5 now.

Yeah, I…am not sure how much help those will be, except as historical artifacts…


Today was my first day of freedom from classes and Finals. I did still go to work, but I was also happy that I got to do whatever I wanted on my lunch hour! Nothing hanging over my head with some due date that I had to work on in order to alleviate my anxiety and boost my GPA!

Just think: in one more year it can be like this, permanently. Not to say that I would stop learning, because I can’t afford to do that, ever; but I will have obtained my first professional degree.

It’s also not lost on me that this “vacation” time I’m entering into, with Winter Break, may be one of the last extended periods of lack of responsibility that I’ll be able to have, unless I save up vacation hours at whatever job I’ll have in the future.

Because of a number of issues, I’m not entirely certain it is even possible to expect to retire once I reach a certain age. I haven’t gone in for financial counseling or anything, but it just doesn’t look good for me, due to the age at which I began (or am beginning) my career. The institution of retirement itself doesn’t look good, as regards what I can see ahead.

However: there are some bright spots. A lot of them, actually…though elucidating that, right now, may be a bit much. And, I can’t expect to live to old age, anyway…that’s kind of not guaranteed.

In any case…I did do some drawing at work, earlier. No photos or scans, yet, though I did learn one thing: don’t try to alter a pencil image at the same time as you’re inking it. (I had forgotten how subtle changes severely affect expressions, in images of people!)

I should be heading out to replace some art supplies that I’m running low on (yay for using up art supplies!). This is, specifically, a type of marker paper I picked up a long time ago (Borden & Riley) which is particularly useful both because of its degree of translucency, and the fact that markers tend not to bleed through it. (New Chartpak markers will still bleed, though, as will new Copics [unless I’m mistaken].) Because the paper is so translucent, it allows for tracing and inking of linework.

The major drawback of any of this is that then the inked illustrations either need to be transferred to a digital file for coloring (which means I will need to learn how to digitally color), or they need color added with dry media (I have never tried this paper with watercolors…it would be an interesting experiment, as this is cotton rag paper, but…I wouldn’t set my hopes too high). The alternative is using Saral paper, a.k.a. making a carbon paper transfer, which makes inking the original, redundant.

Or, I’d just have to stick with using pens and markers for all of the art. It’s not a best-case scenario, largely because I’m not great with markers…though I think I am better than I thought I was. The limited work that is still inside the cover of the pad isn’t awful, even though at the time, I was fairly disappointed.

Maybe I just need to become skilled with a blending marker? I don’t know. What I do know is that this is the first pad of paper I’ve almost-used-up in a while (unless we count the small pad of ArtAgain coal black paper, which I found can take wet media [in this case, gouache]).

It is possible to work out small comics with the marker paper, as well as play with layout, generally.

The largest issue with trying to practice illustration at this point, for me, is either creating a story or finding a story to illustrate. I may be able to work on this over Winter Break, though, too. Hopefully, the last decade or so has calmed down some of the issues I was going through, last time I was intensely involved in fiction writing.

(I can’t help but think that it will attempt to reactivate some of those old dysfunctional neural pathways, though…)

And if I’m going to write, it would likely help, to read (which I have time for, now). The other main issue is that I overwhelmingly read nonfiction…maybe a short story would work. That way, the research wouldn’t be overwhelming (I can read short fiction I like), and the writing wouldn’t be overwhelming, either. This could then lead to a short tale that I could illustrate…

…though I honestly think that project would take up more than the time I’ve got over Winter Break. I have about a month, off. I’m sure I’ll get around to figuring out what to do with my time (other than this), in the near future, but right now I’m just looking at the next 2-3 days.

I did unexpectedly use a bunch of Marker paper for my Web Design project. I have 5 usable pages of this stuff, left. I think I’ll get the 9″x12″ size again, as it is small enough to fit into my work locker. Plus, I can’t scan anything over 8.5″x11″, at this point, so getting a larger size would be relatively useless unless I started hard-core doing comics, and needed to tape up page roughs to my wall in order to read their composition.

(I don’t want to scan these things at an office-supply store. I’m not going to get into, why. I’m sure it’s obvious enough.)

That actually sounds really fun–! It also gives me an excuse to pick up a gouache color that I’ve set my eye on (Quinacridone Magenta). This last color-experimentation phase (for the website) has got me using gouache again, which can make gorgeous opaque colors. But I can’t think about it in the same way as I would think about illustration. It pretty much has to be looser than that.

I had also been thinking about painting with gouache on board…meaning that I’m looking at the use of gesso and Golden Absorbent Ground, to prep the surface. The biggest thing I’m concerned about there is the possibility of destroying my good (soft) watercolor brushes by painting on top of a rough surface.

Now that I look at it, I would be just as well off by mounting a paper to a piece of board, painting it, then removing it to frame.

Hey, wait: it’s also possible that I might be able to permanently mount a paper to board by using an acrylic medium, like maybe Glazing Medium…hmm. Didn’t think of that, before. Then I’d have the durability of the board, and the softness of the paper. I also have a brayer I can use, to push down the watercolor paper (I will just need to interleave a clean sheet so that I don’t mess up the surface of the paper — or the painting, if it is finished).

Looks like I’m going to be experimenting.

The hardest part of any of this, though, is settling on what to paint! I do have a lot of nice botanical images, though…I’m just not quite a master at composition, yet.

Maybe I can try that one image I wanted to use for the 30″x30″ canvas, as a way to break out of photorealism…


I think I can relax a bit, now. Just a little.

I feel like I should write something, but at the same time, what is there to say? Yet. I’ve completed two of three Finals, and the third Final already has hours of work put into it, from earlier in the semester. I’ve got some minor tweaks to do, but mostly things are looking good, there (unless I change something and everything breaks).

I’m talking about my Web Design Final; oddly enough, it looks like the majority of my work for this one will be painting—!! Which, you know, isn’t a bad thing. But I keep feeling like…there’s something else I should be doing on the computer. It probably comes from sitting here too long, and losing touch with reality.

Kinda…kinda half kidding, kinda not…

As I was setting up a page on my website…I realized (again) that most of the work which I’ve done (on paper) and liked, has relied on transparent watercolors, not gouache. So now I’m wondering again if gouache is the optimal medium for a website on color dynamics.

Gouache is really great for building clear, pure, strong color…but to use it and not have things come out looking chunky and blocky requires skill…that I don’t have at the moment?

In any case, I can rework the color wheel from 2007…it’s still readable, it hasn’t faded badly at all; but I was totally lacking in mixing skill at that time (this was towards the beginning of the class). What I mean by that is that I jumped from prismatic colors to chromatic greys with mostly no muted colors, in-between.

I can forgive myself for that because…well, it was a decade ago, and I hadn’t yet taken a real painting class. But when you’re youth and bold, and you don’t know how much you don’t know what you’re doing, there’s nothing to stop you from forging ahead.

Maybe as I got older, I got more cautious. (But if I illustrate that point, I’ll go off on a martial arts tangent which will require explaining…)

In any case, I can do the color wheel. The major issue is that it’s probably the hardest way to effectively mix paint, that is possible. It also uses up a lot of paint. But it may/will be a good exercise, I think. And paint is there to be used, you know? Not to sit there until it becomes dried cakes inside your tubes.

Yes, that…sounds like a plan, at least! I’ve just got to figure out whether I’ll be tweaking the image later in Photoshop, or whether I should just go buy some tinted acetate…

…yeah, I’m being cryptic again. Apologies…

I’m just thinking it will be easier to mask out irregular parts of an image before importing it to the computer, rather than dealing with odd-shaped selections in Photoshop (unless I just used circles to highlight the colors I’m talking about). Hmm.

Well, anyway. I’ve got a project for tomorrow!