Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Using Your Sketchbook to Jump-start Your Painting

I don't think it's unusual for artists to feel anxious when they begin a painting.  As Ann K. Lindsay, my teacher and mentor expressed it:  "Art is our heart coming right out of us onto the paper, into the world; no wonder we feel so vulnerable...."
Sometimes after I create a drawing for the painting and add the resist to protect desired white areas, I take a deep breath in preparation to begin...and I'm not ready to paint!
The hesitation can be a need to warm up and get rid of nervous jitters, a need to play a little before you get down to the business of painting on watercolor paper.  No one wants to mess up a carefully rendered drawing.  This particular painting, "Common Yellowthroat at Seven Islands" was a commissioned painting, as well.  The desire to please a customer can add a little more tension to the mix.
I also wanted to use Prussian Blue in this painting, a blue that is similar in hue to Cerulean but more transparent. I was not sure how the colors I most frequently use in my palette would mix with this shade of blue since I had not experimented, so, I got out my sketchbook.
Your sketchbook comes in handy as a wonderful tool in this situation.  Great for playing and loosening up. Great for color exploration.  And great for working out hesitations before you get started.  As you can see below in the squares and blended mixtures, I am comparing blues and adding yellow and red to check out the combined colors that result.  All the pigments you see listed are Winsor Newton paints except for DeVinci Permanent Rose.
You can create a reference for color blends and their shades by painting squares on a page that document what happens when you blend two colors in gradual steps.  The example below is an exploration of greens created by a friend of mine.  At each end of the row you will find the pure tube color; in between are the shades created by varying the amount of color added.  The square in the middle represents about equal parts of both colors.  As you move to the left the color becomes more yellow; to the right, the color shade becomes more blue.  This exercise is an excellent way to get acquainted with new colors in your palette and discover the variety of combinations that can be used to create green.  
Below you see another way to make a color study.  When making studies like the one above and below, I recommend using watercolor paper when possible.  Watercolor paper will give you a truer sense of how the colors will look in the actual painting.   
Below you see the Common Yellowthroat in my sketchbook surrounded by the trial of pigments I used in the painting:  Prussian Blue, Burnt Sienna, Aureolin Yellow, Indian Yellow, Sepia (on the bird's face and in the twigs), Permanent Rose, and Winsor Violet.
Now I'm ready to paint!

To see more sketchbook practice visit:  Sketchbook as a map and Yellow Glow Behind the Robin
Watercolor cards for reference
Common Yellowthroat sketch in ink and watercolor
Cornell on Common Yellowthroat

2 comments:

  1. Wow! What a beautiful blog you have. I am trying to teach myself watercolor painting, so I really enjoyed this post, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. You have reminded me that I need to get to work and make a colored chart with my watercolors. Thank you. Also you created a beautiful painting of the Yellow throat.

    ReplyDelete

Welcome! I am glad to hear your comments, questions and feedback! Vickie

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Ocean Trail at Rancho Palos Verdes Preserve, California--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015

Joshua Tree National Forest, California, with son Chad and daughter Thuan--2015
Photo credit: Thuan Tram

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014

Bird banding with Mark Armstrong at Seven Islands State Birding Park - 2014
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Birds Close-up

Birds Close-up
Photo courtesy of Karen Wilkenson

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba

Enjoying Gray Jays in Churchill, Manitoba
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014

A dog sled experience with Blue Sky Expeditions, Churchill, MB--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky Expeditions

Churchill, Manitoba--2014

Churchill, Manitoba--2014
Photo courtesy of Blue Sky

2014 Hummingbird Festival

2014 Hummingbird Festival
Photo courtesy of Jody Stone

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Smithsonian National Zoo with one of my Whooping Crane art banners and son, John--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014

Muir Woods on the Dipsea Trail at Stinson Beach, California--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014

Checking out the gulls at Stinson Beach--2014
Photo courtesy of Wendy Pitts Reeves

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012

Discovery Hike in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska--2012
Photo courtesy of Ruth Carter
Related Posts with Thumbnails