Project Three – Stage Three

I had already started experimenting with colour mixing and tints and tones as an extension of my colour wheel exercise, but hadn’t looked at shades. I wanted to see for myself how darkening a colour with black compared to mixing opposites, so I chose yellow as it is the primary with the lowest tonal value to begin with. I see what is meant by mixing opposites gives a richer result than the deadening effects of black. I also now see that olive green doesn’t actually have to have any blue in it at all and can be mixed as a shade of yellow.

I then tried using the translucent quality of watercolours to layer washes. The colour stripes are arranged according to their relative position on the colour wheel to the central colour.

I chose this fabric sample as it had a range of contrasting colours around the edge.  I knew I would find this task challenging, and was surprised that a colour can look like a close match when painted on the side of the paper, but immediately look wrong when painted directly next to the fabric. The weave of the fabric also made colour matching more difficult than using an image as it effects the way the colour appears depending on viewing angle. I think I did a reasonable job but do tend to the perfectionist. Browns are particularly difficult to mix and it took me a while to work out how to get the hue I was after.


When I looked through my collection of images, I was surprised that I tend to collect a lot of pattern and texture, but not a lot of colour. I also recognise at this point that most of my reference images are either in books or catalogues that I wouldn’t want to cut up, or kept digitally. This is usually OK, but I am aware that my printer isn’t very good at printing colours faithfully and this was obviously an issue for this project. Cue buying more postcards from now onwards! I therefore decided to buy a giftcard from one of the art ranges available, and chose this print by Edward Bawden as I liked the palette used and the layering of colours. I had originally intended to do this exercise in gouache, but it seemed more logical to use watercolour for this image. I began to regret this decision quite early on as I tend to struggle with watercolours. I was using the colour relatively dilute and find it difficult to make slight adjustments to colour. I also found that as the work dried, the component pigments were seperating out. At the time, I was really unhappy with this page, but looking back I don’t think it looks as bad as I had originally thought.

I decided to repeat the exercise in the gouache I am more comfortable with. This is one of my photos taken with a 35mm film camera of my favourite place, Hive Beach in Burton Bradstock near where I live. Colour is the thing that immediately springs to mind when I think of this beach as it has amazing honeycomb cliffs (hence the name). I am so pleased I did this again as I am much happier with the result. I am really pleased with the stylised appearance of the cliffs and the light and shade.

For exercise 4 I stuck to the suggested citrus as they were to hand, and we have the most preconceptions of what colour they should be. It was a  really interesting exercise and took a while to ‘deprogramme’ my brain to see what colours the eyes see. There was a lot of red and orange, presumably because orange is the afterimage colour of blue. I have a better understanding of impressionist painting and couldn’t help but think of Cezanne when painting citrus in this way. I was pleased with the red and blue marks to the upper left of the painting, as it conveys the fluorescent quality of the light as it appeared in life.  Although the main concern was with colour and not creating a faithful painting of what the fruit look like, it did make sense to record the colours in contour lines, and I was surprised how good the final result was.

After the struggle I had with waterclours, I was interested with how the tendency for pigments to seperate out when drying could be used. I painted a series of very dilute washes in small strips, and kept the paper moving to get even drying. As expected, the effect was more pronounced the further the pigments were from one another on the colour wheel. One colour tended to be absorbed and dye the paper (usually the reds), whilst the contrasting pigment would settle in the pits of the surface texture (usually the blue). The more water was added, the more seperation occurs.

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