Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Looking for Colors that Dance Well Together

Ah, choosing a new palette! This can be fun or exasperating, sometimes both at the same time! As I mentioned in a previous post, my husband and I are taking an Anniversary trip to Hawaii in about 2 weeks. I have never been there before and am very excited not only to see the natural beauty and wonders of the islands, but also paint them.

In preparing for the trip I began considering my current watercolor palettes. How would the palettes I use in the Pacific Northwest work for Hawaii? Although I really like my newest palette (which I call “Little Palette #3”) I thought the tones might be too cool for the vivid colors I imagine Hawaii will have. What to do? I looked at my other palettes and didn’t think they’d work either.

To me, the interactions between the paints are really important. Not just the color mixtures themselves but how the various paints interact when mixed on paper. How do the mixed neutrals look? Which color of two complements tends to overwhelm the other? Do the colors blend, shoot, or back run when really wet?

After trying several new palette ideas with no good results, I got an idea. What about bringing the Daniel Smith watercolor stick palette that I’d been trying out for my sketching bag? Hmm. Could work…

My watercolor stick palette

Last night I gave the colors a good mixture workout. And voila! Some beautiful things started happening. Here's an example of a complementary mixture (colors directly across from each other on the color wheel) from my tests. I love how many colors you can see in the mixtures and how they interact in interesting ways. As I like to use limited palettes in my paintings, I tried out several split complementary color swatches to see how the colors would look side by side. The palette seemed to work well on this front too.

Testing Complementary Color Mixtures

OK then! It all seemed to be working harmoniously and I'm happy. This, then, is the palette I will be taking on my trip:

Watercolor Stick Palette

Now I just have to make sure I can paint flowers and water adequately before I leave!! *lol*

P.S. I have since filled the empty pan with white gauche...just in case!

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