Mixing greens, and experimenting with camera settings…

Well, I got two things off of my list.  Everything else had to wait until after watercolor experimentation (hey the sun was up!).  😛

From top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow (Hansa Yellow Light)/Prussian Blue, Lemon Yellow/Chrome Cerulean (Daniel Smith), Winsor Yellow/Chrome Cerulean, Winsor Yellow/Prussian Blue.  In these tests I made a near-middle green first, then extended the color into blue going down; and yellow, going to the right.

I’m in the middle of relearning that in art, most skills and techniques can’t be learned unless the artist goes out of their way to try it themselves.  Learning about it in theory, or learning about it secondhand, won’t suffice.  Thus, listening to other people say what can and can’t be done, or will and won’t work, isn’t entirely productive.  Those other people may not share your conditions (as, say, maybe M. Graham paints do actually never dry, in tropical conditions; but maybe I don’t live in tropical conditions).

Today M stated that if I went to the art store again, I couldn’t go back for a week, because I was addicted.  *^_^*  I opted not to go and to save that trip for a later date, even though we were right there.  I knew that if I could first practice with the paints I have, I would then have a better idea about anything I needed, as versus something I might need but was not sure about.

What I can tell, though:  15ml tubes are probably about the right size for intense color.  I have a bunch of tiny tubes (5-7 ml), but really those are great for testing colors…not for being mainstays.  And I’m not sure if I want to keep to Winsor & Newton, now that I have had a taste of other brands (particularly:  Grumbacher, M. Graham [I really love their Hansa Yellow — it disperses beautifully — I haven’t tried it wet-on-wet yet], Daniel Smith, Mijello).

Of course, though, it’s necessary to be a smart consumer and know what you’re buying before you buy it — there have been a lot of complaints that I’ve seen about Mijello Mission Gold brand being “mislabeled,” but it really seems that “mislabeling” is industry-standard and that companies telling you the actual pigments they’re using is a mark of quality.  I don’t think they’re required to do so, unless the paints contain one or more ingredients requiring a carcinogen warning under California Proposition 65.

I’ve just been learning things piece by piece, and each new bit of information makes me want to experiment, more.  Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately), there are no decent art stores in my area…and waiting at home encourages research

Anyhow, I’ve also been experimenting with camera settings.  The two photos I’m showing here were taken on the “Tungsten” lighting setting on my camera.  Although I was under fluorescent lighting, these images were the closest I came to what I had seen while the Sun was up (though they didn’t capture everything:  for example, M. Graham Hansa Yellow [I tend to just call this Lemon Yellow, as versus Hansa Yellow Light, or Pigment Yellow 3 {PY3} or Arylide Yellow, but in the spirit of accuracy…] and Winsor Green [Blue Shade] make a nearly fluorescent green combination when combined, seen below left).

(I tend to work by the edict that a color can be neutralized and thus dulled down, but the amount of light it reflects cannot be made brighter than it initially is…though that thought has been questioned by those around me…possibly because warm and fluorescent colors can appear psychologically brighter than white?  I don’t know.  I’ve noticed that I have a relatively high-key palette, though, and that is for this reason.)

Anyhow — every other camera setting cast a brownish tone over the entire image, which I knew I would have to edit out in Photoshop.  Turns out, it’s much easier to take the photo correctly, the first time.  😛  I also realized that I could alter the white balance on these images directly in my camera, instead of applying filters after the fact.  (Both of these images were taken with the white balance shifted a bit brighter than the light in the room.  Which, like taking the photo under the “Tungsten” setting even though I was under warm fluorescent light, did help with color fidelity.)

There was no processing after-the-fact (post-processing?) I knew how to do that I could do here, that would have helped — other than a judicious applying of the Skew tool to unskew my camera positioning.  But I thought that would be a little much.

Top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Lemon Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Aureolin/Winsor Blue (Green Shade).  For newbies, Winsor Green and Blue are both Phthalocyanine colors, with Winsor & Newton branding in these particular names.  Aureolin is genuine Aureolin, PY40.

What I found is that I get some **** clean colors out of Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) and Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), when they’re combined with the lighter Hansa Yellow (which is a cool, delicate, light yellow, often referred to as “Lemon Yellow”).  Phthalo Blue (GS) combined with Aureolin also makes really bright, pure, strong mixes.  I will indeed be sad if Aureolin does discolor with moisture and/or light…

…and I’m thinking of going over some of these swatches again with glazing in their original color mixes, in order to deepen them.  (I’ve already done this on maybe 3 or so squares, where I used too much water.)  It will be easier to see differences in hue, that way.

Prussian Blue and Chrome Cerulean (1st image) also make decent mixes with Lemon Yellow; in addition to Prussian Blue mixing well with Winsor Yellow (according to Blick’s website and handprint.com, this is a benzimidazolone [or Benzimida, I’ve also heard it called] yellow; and I’ve just manually checked it:  it is Pigment Yellow 154 [or, PY154], which concurs).

I got some really…slightly surprising reactions of the Chrome Cerulean with Winsor Yellow, however (1st image, third from the top).  I wouldn’t repeat the process, unless it were to see if the pigments settled out because of the amount of water in the paint (too much).  This mixture granulated heavily in the mixtures tending more toward Cerulean, in a way that I didn’t really find attractive or currently useful (you might, though!).  However, using less Cerulean and more Benzimida could add a subtle touch to …something.  I don’t know what, right now.

This is as far as I got today before I had to stop.  I was working on cheap paper because I was just doing scales…but I’ve got to say that the Fluid cold-press watercolor paper (second photo) was much more of a joy to work on than the Strathmore 300 rough I was trying to use up (in the first photo).

I’m kind of glad I don’t have any more of it, now… 😉

Yeah…a bit scattered…

I was looking around for information on techniques for filling palettes, and found a number of interesting statements.

  1. Apparently, Viridian (true Viridian, that is) doesn’t re-hydrate well, and I should avoid putting it into a well so that I don’t waste it.
  2. I will want to roughen up the inner surfaces of my palette with either baking soda or a scrubby sponge, before filling the wells.
  3. I’ve heard that M. Graham watercolors (like my Hansa Yellow) never completely dry and may move when held vertically because of it — but that information is disputed online.  Just in case, I will want to fill that well in stages in order to see how well it is setting.

I’ve also been looking around at information on fountain pens and Bullet Journals — the latter of which may enable me to keep track of school assignments and my presently-nonexistent Japanese study (which I keep forgetting about, due to the fact that my books are all neatly and unobtrusively stowed on my bookshelf).  I do have a dotted grid notebook suitable as a Bullet Journal, but it is stowed along with the Japanese-learning materials.

I also read not to use linocutting tools (I assume they meant Speedball knives with interchangeable blades) for woodblock prints, as the blades would dull.  I do have some tools to sharpen my old knives (aluminum oxide waterstone in coarse and fine grit, ultra-fine grit wet/dry sandpaper), but I don’t have the stones right now to hone the insides of my gouges (which would save me from having to buy new gouges).  I’ll stick with linocutting for now, though.  I’m pretty sure the Japanese carving store near me should have the stones available, or I can find them online.

I did look through one book on printmaking techniques, which reminded me of what I had been doing before I derailed myself into watercolors.  (Today I went through everything that I had checked out from the library, and made a pile of things that can go back.  Financial liability is not a good thing.)

Also, I realized that the entire set of my newer watercolor paint samples had been made out of the same sheet of paper; meaning that what didn’t settle roughly on the rough paper (as in the last entry) either must be inherently very smooth, or have contained less water/paint in laydown.  As a further note on that entry, I can now see texture in certain paints and not in others.

I’m also amazed at how many people are using Mijello palettes (or palettes that look like them), though that may be neither here nor there.

And I found out that D didn’t really lose my master tracing/final design for the flower linocut; I just never actually cut it off of the tracing paper (the only reason I know this is that I expected to see a missing square on the sheet, and did not).

In addition, I completed the major reading for this week on Monday, having started on it Sunday night.  My reading speed in English really is getting faster, or the book I was reading was very good at being clear (probably a bit of both).

So tomorrow, what can I do?

  • Go to dentist for cleaning and ask about the craze lines on front teeth
  • Return library books
  • Clean office
  • Clean bedroom
  • Prep loose trays in Mijello 33-well palette with baking soda scrub
  • Take a look at Beginning Japanese by Kluemper et. al and/or Elementary Japanese by Hasegawa.
  • Review kana.
    • Hiragana first
    • Katakana second
  • Shower, please

In the future,

  • Learn more about Bullet journaling system
  • Practice mixing greens, with awareness (and record!) of what color was used where (I think I experimented with Cerulean and Prussian Blue last time, but can’t be sure of the yellows) * — I may want to do this BEFORE filling the palette, — * as I’m not sure how many greens I can actually get out of this, without Viridian.  But I suppose I do have Aureolin, Hansa Yellow, Hansa Yellow Deep, and two different Yellow Ochres (I believe this is natural vs. synthetic), so it’s worth a good shot.
    • Practice mixing with watercolors in either scales or grids
      • Fill palette with watercolors
  • Transfer flower pattern onto new linoleum block
    • Practice with new X-Acto blades on linoleum sheets
    • Carve new linoleum block
    • Draw prints (in different colors!)
  • Draw gingko leaf design and puzzle out how to best work with that in a print (mixed warm [yellow, orange, brown] inks, white space for veins of leaf?)
  • Draw more than one ginkgo rendition, so as to create a falling-leaf image on bookmarks?
  • Straighten hair, trim off obvious damage

And I’ve got to remember I have both an eye appointment and an ultrasound coming up.

I should probably get going.  Sorry for the word count on these things…it’s even hard for me to go back and read this stuff, honestly.  Maybe I never grew to question the, “longer is better,” stuff I learned in high school…on the Web, at least, “briefer is better (so long as it delivers the required information),” may be more true!

Rounding out the palette

Alright then.  Although it was against my better judgment, I did go out and get a Prussian Blue and a Cerulean.  The Cerulean I got, though…may need to be mixed with the Phthalo Green or Viridian in order to achieve qualities that would allow it to effectively tone down very warm colors…I haven’t trialed it yet, and so am not sure.

Trial Five:  by the way, the increased texture on the Aureolin (Yellow), Cerulean Chromium (Blue), and Phthalo (Blue) colors may be due more to the paper I used than to paint qualities…

I neglected to see that Daniel Smith (the brand I ended up getting, as that was what was available) had more than one variant of PB36 (Pigment Blue 36).  Or, maybe more to the point:  I neglected to see that both PB36 and PB35 were pigments for things named “Cerulean.”  I was expecting something a bit greener, though got scared when I attempted to check the color in the store and felt pressure releasing towards the cap.  Because the people at Blick spent a full 5 minutes (at least) trying to locate what I wanted (and did the research for me), I then was OK with leaving with this.

What I can say is that my “Cerulean Blue, Chromium,” from Daniel Smith is almost brighter than my Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)!  That’s certainly saying something!


I’ve tried to adjust the colors here to be accurate to what I saw, earlier.  The Prussian Blue is a bit more intense and bluer than Cotman Prussian Blue, but it’s very subtle.  They appear to be the same value when dry, it’s just that one (the Winsor & Newton Cotman [student-grade] formulation) is grayer than the other, as an illustration of the quality differential between student-grade and professional-grade.  It’s kind of a weird thing to try and describe.  Maybe I should take a picture of it…

I believe that the “Cerulean Blue, Chromium,” is PB36…PB35 would have given me something more along the lines of what I expected:  a greener blue-green.  Because of the way this blue looks, though…I might be able to temper it with one of those ugly mostly-green colors with a hint of blue in order to have the color I was originally going for… 😉

I did get the Cerulean to mix greens and dull down colors, though.  It wasn’t something which I was planning to utilize on its own…this is why there is that one gap in my “earth tone” section, in the first image.  When and if I get a gross-looking green-blue to mix with the Cerulean, I’ll put it there.  😉

I think I’m about ready to fill my palette, now…

Finally…I’ve finally got a palette layout I’m good with.

Apologies for not having posted sooner; I have a feeling that I’ve been fighting off some sort of infectious microbe.  😉  I’ve been playing around with color chips for the past couple of days, and had to stay home today for a phone appointment, so it was a fairly good study time where it came to colors.

My last post got into the beginning of this.  In the meantime, I’ve been toying with layouts and reworking swatches (my original set were not all that great, as I wasn’t using enough color).  I still haven’t worked gradient swatches, but that wasn’t the point, this time.  Using up the dried paint in my preexisting palettes may have actually been the point, but who can say?  😉

Trial One
Trial Two
Trial Three (1)

I have a feeling these may be basically self-explanatory.  The previous photo, “Trial Three (1),” is missing the two swatches of black pigments which I didn’t notice were missing until very late in the game.  These are Ivory Black (Cotman) and Lamp Black (Holbein), which have slightly different overtones.  (Ivory Black is less blue than Lamp Black.)  I have a photo with a Levels adjustment, here:

Trial Three (2)

I’ve tried to render these as well as I can, but to be honest, reflected color changes depending on light quality…and the light quality isn’t so good right now!  But in particular, I tried to match up the white of the palette to the white I recall.

I’ve included some paints in here that I normally would not have — for example, Winsor Orange (Professional grade), which is slightly duller than Cadmium Orange Hue (student grade, Cotman) and seems not to mix as well.  But maybe there will be times when I’ll need one or the other of the mixing properties, and they won’t be interchangeable.

(While I don’t know that I’d actually need something to mix in a dull manner [it’s possible to do this just by adding a complementary color to neutralize aspects], I opted to include it.  I don’t have that much experience with it, because I utilized Cadmium Orange Hue instead, in Watercolor class…but I still have a nearly full tube of Winsor Orange.  I discovered this on going into my art supplies to look at all the Cotman tubes from vintage 2009.)

This is the same reason I’ve included Viridian, above.  My parents were nice enough to snag a W&N Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) for me, which is like Viridian Hue in Cotmans (they use the same pigment), but I’m hoping it handles better.  (I got some weird unintended effects — I think they’re called “backruns”? — with the Viridian Hue, but not with the professional-level Phthalo Green.)

Now, I normally can’t stand Viridian — I can’t get any concentration out of it — but there is a chance that I’m going to need a green like it, and Phthalo Green (Blue Shade) may not mix the way I need it to.  It may be that Viridian works better in mixes than on its own, that is…but it’s basically a Chromium Oxide green…which I don’t even like unaltered in acrylics (it’s dull — the color of a pool table — and I don’t know why we were told to get it:  Emerald Green is much more favorable to my taste), but Chrome Oxide Green can make interesting mixes when combined with unexpected colors.  I’m hoping that maybe Viridian will turn out the same way.

What I did unapologetically cut out was the Aureolin.  I really don’t like that pigment (it’s a green-leaning, pale, dullish, expensive, toxic yellow with low tinting strength which has been maligned online for low lightfastness), and with a light Hansa Yellow, I don’t believe I’ll need it.  (The Hansa is far right, middle row on the previous image).

And while I was talking about not needing the full spectrum because things can be mixed, it’s really apparent that I was drawn to the warm spectrum, here.  I am not entirely certain how such small differences in color can add up to such large differences in the quality of a mixed paint, but I know that differences in yellows are fairly consequential.  I included what I had, regardless of student or artist quality.  I’m not planning on my work lasting through the next two empires, that is, and I’ll likely need to refill the palette and mess up my color scheme anyway, so…

What I am amazed at (slightly) is how many different colors of red, there are.  I tried to concentrate them to one side of the palette, though the overall numbers (breaking into three relatively cohesive sections) helped.

The two colors which I have thought of to add if I ever come to care that much (seeing how many colors of red and yellow I have, and that I have three blues), are Indanthrone Blue and Prussian Blue.  I intentionally haven’t added the latter because of stability concerns…which I won’t go into, but Indanthrone Blue is one of those that just kind of makes me go, “ooh.”  Prussian Blue tends to be muted and greenish, Indanthrone looks dark violet-blue.

Ah, well.  If I keep painting in watercolors, it’s something to consider.  The QoR brand of Indanthrone looks particularly appealing, though possibly mimicked with French Ultramarine plus Dioxazine Violet (though the swatch at Blick’s website is horrible).  And looking at this, it’s possible Indigo (a convenience mixture from W&N, which I started to play with in combination with one or another Phthalo, yesterday) will sate the Prussian Blue bug.  (Indigo leans greenish, and is also muted.  It isn’t actual Indigo, though, possibly because Indigo dye is relatively fugitive…or so I’ve heard.)

I also added the new tube of Rose Madder (Mijello Mission Gold brand) which I got as a bonus with this new palette:  it is similar to W&N Alizarin Crimson, but redder, if that makes sense.  By that, I mean it looks closer to a straight red.  It’s not really obvious in the photos, but it is on the lower left in the image “Trial Three (1)”.

I don’t know if this can be called a productive day, but it’s been a fun one, at least!

And yeah, I wouldn’t feel bad about filling this palette as it is, and not worrying about having “the right place” for Prussian or Indanthrone Blue.  They can just go in the lower right corner.  🙂  I’ll know what they are.  🙂

Saa, but yeah…I’ve got to go to work, tomorrow.  Yay for earning money!  😉  After next week, I shouldn’t have to worry about any more appointments.  Maybe then I can take on some extra hours…I just don’t want to come anywhere close to burnout this Summer…

Back to watercolors? what am I doing…

The little loose paint chips that I made so long ago out of watercolor swatches have proven useful.  I really am not entirely sure why I got it into my head to play with watercolors, again:  except for the fact that I love color, and they’re gorgeous.

M was looking for a butcher tray, so we stopped off at the little art store to look at the palettes.  There were only two things I could think of which I might have a chance of using in the near future.  The first was a stable home for my watercolors (a Mijello 33-well palette); the second was a piece of basswood, to enable the possibility of woodblock printing.

In a prior relevant post, I mentioned the Mijello Silver Nano 40-well palette, and how for me it has become, in practicality, a 20-well palette.  The dried colors just don’t reliably stick to the upside-down wells when the palette is closed.  It has good space for mixing, and it may just be that the colors I put in there fell out because of the properties of the pigments used (they’re largely earth tones, in the lid).  It’s also possible that the antimicrobial coating on this palette makes it somewhat nonstick…in any case, I didn’t want to put any more of my paints in there after I realized it would be a temporary home for them, at best.

So I basically just bit it and got a palette with all the wells on one side, with as many wells as I could find, in a dust-safe and compact model.  I had been looking at the 33-well palette before, but for reasons I can’t recall (likely having to do with mixing space), passed it up.  What they don’t tell you is that they give you three extra mixing surfaces in this palette:  one in the lid, one behind the one in the lid, and one hidden under the paint wells (though I’m not sure if these are watertight for travel:  the outer plastic is not the same color).  At least in the palette I got, and I’m hoping it wasn’t modded by some prior customer to contain all of this, all these spaces are white plastic, thus you can see the color you’re mixing.

I spent quite a long time poring over and studying the Mijello Mission Gold watercolor paint advertisement which was included, after I got home.  The palette contained a little free tube of what I think was Rose Madder (it was taped to the advertisement, so I’m pretty sure it was supposed to be there!).  What I actually was doing was analyzing the differences in color from the printed swatches (keeping in mind that CMYK printing does not always reproduce colors accurately), and cross-referencing the pigment codes to see what was made out of what.  At a certain point, it became clear that one doesn’t need to buy the intermediary mixes of pigments, if one already has all the ingredients to mix that shade oneself.

The draw to convenience mixtures, for me, has been that the colors are often really beautiful, and I just haven’t discovered how to mix them yet out of single-pigment paints.  And, if doing reproduction work, one might actually need a standard shade — as versus the subtle minutiae of variations that occur in hand-mixed colors.

Then, I started looking at my own paints, wondering how many of them were single-pigment formulations.  Quite a number of the ones I have are single-pigment, actually:  at least that’s what the codes might imply (though some codes — especially in the browner earth tones, and Phthalo colors, carry the same pigment number even though they are different shades).  I have mostly Winsor & Newton colors, as I could get smaller tubes for a lower initial investment (though these are not cheap colors, as I initially thought).

Tonight, I was wondering aloud if there was a standard palette that was mixed from, to create harmonious color lines in manufactured convenience colors.  M asked me if I wanted to mix colors.  That was a definite yes.  Then she suggested that I write in and ask to tour a paint factory, and that maybe they would even hire me–!

I had been talking about mixing colors which no one tells you how to mix…my intro to this was Phthalo Green + Permanent Rose (in a Watercolor class), which makes a lovely grey with tones of violet, pink, and blue, which can range into green, depending on proportions.  I used that combination here, in the background.  Particularly, the muted violet in the lower left corner and the blue-green in some of the leaves to the right of the rose used this combination:

(I’m still proud of this one.)  “Rose,” May 2016.

The original post in which I first published this image (in color) is here, though only later did I say that I used Viridian.  I was mistaken.  I used Viridian Hue — “Hue” means that it approximates the color of something else.  In this case, Viridian Hue was actually a Phthalocyanine Green which approximated the masstone (basic color) of Viridian.  However, true Viridian (a chromium-based color:  also be aware that in my earlier treatment of chromium colors versus cobalt colors on this blog, I inadvertently confused the terms) behaves differently in mixes.  In particular, it’s a granulating color (unless I’m wrong and it’s really “flocculating”) — it clumps on the page as it dries, is more muted (less intense), and is not as smooth as any Phthalo color I’ve ever used.  (In particular, it doesn’t do the same thing with Permanent Rose as Phthalo Green does.)

I prefer my paints to flow smoother, though there is undeniable complexity added to an image when the textures of granulating and flocculating paints come into play.  The natural settling of the pigments in…let’s say, the watercolors I (personally) like…add visual texture.  I’m just not terribly fond of visible brushstrokes in areas I want to be smooth.  I know smoothness isn’t everyone’s thing, though.  And my opinion may change after seeing what I can do with dry brushwork — I have noticed the look of it to be visually interesting.

Anyhow, I was able to use my little paint chips to play with the future layout of colors in the 33-well palette.  There are still empty wells, which is likely a very good thing.  I did something different this time, though:  I moved from bright primary color on one side into muted tones, then added in the pinks, violets, greens and blacks on the other side.


Upon looking at this image, to the left, I’m really tempted to play around more with this, though.  I’m seeing distinct groups or families of colors — I’m not sure if any of you are more familiar with it than I am, as I’ve only had community college and high school training in art — but this is what I’m seeing:

A green-to-cool yellow family (Winsor Yellow and up, on the photo, plus Winsor Blue and down on the photo):  these colors can be used to mix greens…and they have a certain impact on me emotionally which I can’t describe.  But they do make me think of plants.  The Oakland A’s.  Androgyny?

A red-to-orange family (Winsor Red to Winsor Yellow Deep):  all of these appear very warm to me and like they stand out more than anything else.

A pink-to-violet/blue family (Permanent Rose to French Ultramarine):  these four colors could probably be called my home base, I mean, just personally.  Do I know why?  No.  But I know they make me feel some way.  (My brand of) Feminine?

Then, there’s Cobalt Blue, which doesn’t quite fit in for me.  I really don’t particularly like Cobalt Blue, in this formulation, at least (W&N).  It’s great for skies, but in color mixing, it’s weak…and it doesn’t really lean very far toward any other color, except maybe Winsor Violet (Dioxazine Violet) and “Magenta Permanent,” (I can’t remember the formulation offhand, but this was a W&N color), above.

And…I did mention that I had shaded these into earth tones, in the new palette.  I wouldn’t have caught the color overtones of these earth tones without having played around with Pitt brush pens for a while, and realizing that nearly each brown, muted yellow, muted red, or muted blue, had an overtone which made it part of a larger color family.  (There was also a muted violet, and one brown which didn’t lean any one way in particular, kind of like Cobalt Blue in that way.)

I have taken photos of the new palette (just in case a wind blew it all away by accident), but I can’t do the layout justice with nighttime lighting.  I’ll try and post records tomorrow and then — after recording positions — try and play around with the chips more and see how else I can rearrange them…