Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tricks of the Watercolor Trade

In the window of the pigment store where I worked part-time there were banks of colored pigments.I've been wanting to record them. Then come home, match the colors with paint.
 Match the pigments on my palette, which is an old enamel kitchen tray found on Ebay.

Match the colors swatches on a test sheet of paper.
The next step is to make a painting...

My watercolor teacher, David Dewey used to say,
the painting is 1st of all set up on your palette.
Get your colors down there.
I used to take a ton of pictures of his palette mixings.

Then put it down on the paper.

I'd love to select a few of these bottles and make a painting from just those colors - what's known as doing a "limited palette" painting.

Another Dewey trick was to use your dirty water to put the washes down on the paper. It's easier to see where the water is on the white paper if there are bits of pigment in the wash. For most watercolor painters painting with clean water is like religion!
A watercolor paintbox I'd love to own. A client of Wendy Brandes designed this using a poison ring bezel!Claus Oldenburg of the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, said
he does most of his idea sketching at the dinner table.
Wouldn't this paintbox ring be a tremendous help?


  1. Carol, what a great post! I love the photos of the contrasting vivid colors. Makes me want to spend all day playing with paints. It would be great to have one of those rings too :)

  2. Anonymous8:34 AM

    Putting the washes down with the dirty water...? Wow--I have never heard anyone advocate that before. I can't picture what he meant. I love the rich, vibrant Kremer colors--those pigments are like treats in a candy store to me! Beautiful images, Carol...

  3. I love the ring! If I painted, I would want that, too.

    It reminds me of something. I think I've seen little 17th or 18th century rings like this in the Fragonard museum that weren't poison rings (or paint rings!) but to hold a little rouge or else solid perfume. I think the museum mentioned the poison ring inspiration for those, though. Or the connection. I'm a little vague, though, since I was overwhelmed by all the things to see and learn in that museum.

  4. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Inspiring post today. Makes me want to get my paint's out and create. So far all the creating has been going on in my garden this summer. I must do some painting. Time just slips by these days. I could use a poster of your paint pallet, in second picture, to keep inspiring me. Yummy colors. ;-)
    Cris in OR

  5. that rack with all the paints reminds me of a spice rack :) and that ring...cool!

  6. @ Blame It On Paris, I know what you mean. Here's a necklace I did that would work with solid perfume:
    Also a lot of rings and lockets were designed to contain religious relics, miniature portraits, locks of hair, etc.

  7. i want every color
    shown in those little bottles...

    i must be
    **pigment greedy**
    but i love them
    lined up
    as art just the way they are.
    they make me ecstatic with potential...

    if i could turn them
    into something wonderful
    as you do on a daily basis,
    i would be ~~~Beyond Happy!~~~


    i even buy nail polish
    because i love to see the bottles lined up
    in sweet rosy lines...

    what do i WEAR?
    the same dark burgundy color
    always on my toes.
    but still...the potential is THERE!

    i always love your color-filled postings!

  8. THANK YOU somepinkflowers
    Many people walks into the shop and want to buy those rows of little bottles!
    The display cases were once used for trade shows. Pigment normally comes in plastic bags or bottles..
    There is an aniversary set of 25 glass bottles, exactly the same as the window display.
    Sometimes people buy the set just to enjoy the colors lined up on a shelf...

  9. Anonymous5:21 PM

    Thanks for the ‘colors.
    These look interesting-
    Do you use them?

  10. Anonymous9:40 PM

    What an inspirational post today!
    I want more color in my life!!!

  11. oh i love the pigment bottles in wooden niches...i would love to store mine that way...love the ring and the lessons also...have a colorful day...blessings, rebecca

  12. This makes me want to get my watercolours out again but unless you can paint me another 12 hours in a day I've had it.

  13. Anonymous11:53 AM

    There is a place in Paris called Senellier where I used to buy my art supplies and where there are rows after rows of colors and pigment in ancient cabinets, like in an apothecary store. I loved that place. I wonder if it stil exist.

  14. Carol, I have watched your photos for so long on Flickr, I never realized you had a blog as well. What a visual treat. Those bottles all lined up are just gorgeous.

  15. oh! I would love to paint again these make me want to. I was teaching myself some watercolor. These pretty paints and happy colors. Oh the joy of colors. I love the ring, because I love to doodle and I am always pulling my colored pens out. I love your blog! It always brings me joy to see what you paint each day. Someday hopefully I can buy one of your paintings as they are so beautiful!

  16. Nice information. Your art is very nice.

  17. That ring is really original and your post reminds me of a rainbow.

  18. You are having way too much fun. :


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