Sunday, August 31, 2014

Plein Air Painting on Ebey Island

"View of the Trestle" 6"x 6" gouache in a Stilman and Birn Beta sketchbook

Today, we visited our dear friend Mac, who lives on Ebey Island which is just a few minutes away from Snohomish. Mac has a pear orchard and the trees were brimming with Asian pears, plums in two varieties, apples, and of course the bushes were filled wild blackberries. There is a family of osprey nesting on the property and their voices added a lovely accompaniment to the “little Woodstock” music festival next door. It was pretty idyllic and of course, I had so do a painting. 
Sara and Mac clowning around

Ebey is very flat and I wondered if I could capture it properly. I decided to give it a try. I still don’t have a complete set of gouache colors so this painting is done with two pairs of complementary colors and one other color that I don’t yet have the compliment for. I used lemon yellow, permanent green light, viridian, quin. violet, dioxinene purple and white gouache.

Painting in progress
P.S. Did I mention that we brought a big bag of fruit back with us? Yum!!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Painting of the Day

"Old Wagon #1" watercolor, 10" x 14"
Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2014

As with my last two works, this painting uses an intermediate color triad of Cadmium Orange, Phthalo Turquoise, and Magenta. I felt that I was being too cautious in my last two paintings and I wanted to push my use of color with this one. I’m pleased with the result. The warm orange light gives just the feeling I was looking for. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Painting of the Day — "Nightflowers"

"Nightflowers" 10" x 14" watercolor
Copyright Sara Light-Waller, 2014
Recently I began experimenting with color triads in watermedia. Color triads are three colors spaced evenly around a 12-color wheel.

Although "Nightflowers" is painted using the same three colors as the previous, 'Sunflowers" — Cadmium Orange, Phthalo Turquoise, and Magenta (which is close to Quinacridone Magenta) the effect is entirely different.

Beyond gaining a better understanding of how to use color triads, I had another goal for this painting. I wanted to simulate a common color scheme used by Golden-Age illustrator Edmund Dulac (1882 – 1953). His night and undersea scenes have a particular green-ish tone that I wanted to understand better. 
Illustration by Edmund Dulac

I think I got pretty close to it with "Nightflowers." Clearly, Dulac was using color triads in at least some of his paintings. Such a tricky boots! ;-)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Paintings of the week

I finished two new watercolor paintings this week. Both are painted on rough watercolor paper with a limited palette including three analogous colors and their complements. "Winter Branches" is highlighted with white casein.

"Winter Branches" 9" x 11"
Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2014

"Park Deer" 9 1/4" x 7 3/4"
Copyright, Sara Light-Waller, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Me and Edmund Dulac

Illustration from "Beauty and the Beast" by Edmund Dulac

I have long been an admirer of French illustrator, Edmund Dulac (1882 –1953). Dulac is one of the premier children’s book illustrators of the Golden Age. Some time ago I theorized his palette (Analyzing the color choices of Edmund Dulac) based on colors he used in his paintings. However, when I tried to reproduce his works I had only partial success. There was something he was doing with color that continued to elude me.

Today, while studying trios of analogous colors and their complements, I think I finally figured it out. Dulac appears to be using analogous colors in duos or triplets (and their complements) in his paintings. Generally, he only used one or two full intensity colors (commonly blue-violet or dark cadmium red) to highlight otherwise neutralized paintings. The full intensity colors stood out like beacons, enlivening the subtle colors in the rest of his neutralized color scheme.

My watercolor palette showing direct complements

When I made this discovery I was using a limited palette of six watercolors: Magenta (Stephen Quiller), Ultramarine Violet (Stephen Quiller), Ultramarine Blue (M. Graham), Permanent Green Light (Daniel Smith), Azo Yellow (Daniel Smith), and Cadmium Orange (Stephen Quiller). These six colors represent three analogous colors and their matched complements.

[For those who may be interested — my complete color palette (seen above) has twelve colors, those listed above as well as: Pyrol Orange (Daniel Smith), Cadmium Red Light (Stephen Quiller), Quinacridone Rose (M. Graham), Phthalo Blue (Daniel Smith), Phthalo Turquoise (Daniel Smith), and Viridian (M. Graham.) This is the twelve-color palette recommended by Stephen Quiller and I can’t say enough about it. It’s the most effective watercolor palette I’ve ever used, especially for the direct neutralization of complementary colors.] 

Here are two examples by Dulac's work demonstrating common color choices. The colors in both are analogous and the paintings are pretty neutralized (although the originals may have been brighter, I suspect these reproductions aren't too far off), with only the blue (in the first) or red (in the second) highlighted.

Dulac illustration from "The Snow Queen."

Dulac illustration from "Fairies I Have Met."
It’s taken me several months to work this out but I feel quite pleased by the discovery. Armed with this knowledge I think I can reproduce Dulac’s paintings much more effectively. And I'd like to learn from him. He was a master of the art and although long dead, still has plenty to teach me.