Field Near the County Park

Field near the county park 1

Watercolor on 140b cold pressed paper, 8″ x 5.75″

This is a large open field across the street at the county park with a lot of tall grass. The park is next to the lake, so the small amount of blue hill seen in the distance is across the lake. The scan doesn’t show as much of the blue in the sky as it should. Here’s the original photo I took-

Field near the county park 1 ref

Most of the green used in the grass is a yellowish green earth that I then glazed over with a mix of mostly cobalt teal and nickel titanite yellow. I think early in the painting I was also using an unusual mix of viridian and synthetic malachite. The dark green I used was an experimental mix of viridian (a cold green), perylene green (greenish black), and another green earth. The sky and distant hills are only cobalt teal. There were a few other colors that I only used small amounts of.

So this painting has a lot of natural green earth in it, which is different for me because I’ve never liked green earth in watercolor. It seems like no matter what brand it’s from it’s difficult to rewet. It also dries very brittle and doesn’t stick to the pan or palette well, so when it dries it tends to break into many loose pieces that fall on the floor. This time I tried something I’ve read about- adding a drop of vegetable glycerin to the green earth, mixing it well, and then letting it dry in the pan. It worked well because the dry paint didn’t crumble and it rewet much easier. Because it was easier to rewet I could get more paint on my brush and use it more strongly, which is useful because green earth is always transparent and weaker than most paints. The green earth couldn’t make the grass as brightly green as it should be though.

Also, I’m trying out a different blog theme design. I was hoping to be able to make the images larger, but they seem to be the same. Still, I kind of like it for the fonts. Let me know what you think of the change.

Waterfall with Egret

Waterfall with Egret

Pencils: Pentel Graph Gear 500 3mm with 2H lead, Eberhard Faber Design Drawing 6B pencil, General’s white charcoal pencil
Paper: Strathmore 400 series toned gray 80 lb
5.75″ x 3″

I wanted to try drawing a waterfall again, but in a different style. I also tried using a little General’s charcoal pencil in a few places, but it got mixed in with and I think overwhelmed by the much larger amount of heavy graphite in those places, so it probably didn’t affect the final image.

Waterfalls and Rocks

Waterfalls and Rocks 1

Pencils: Pentel Graph Gear 500 3mm with 2H lead, Eberhard Faber Design Drawing 6B pencil, Conté a Paris white pastel pencil
Paper: Strathmore 400 series toned gray 80 lb
4.75″ x 2.75″

I think I got a little carried away with the white, but I’m still getting used to this kind of drawing.

Kremer’s Blue Pigment Assortment

I got a boxed assortment of pigments from Kremer (here) recently and here’s a chart of all of them made into watercolor. As always I can’t guarantee color accuracy. Actually, this time I guarantee it’s not accurate, because ultramarine is hard to photograph. All of these I made just with a palette knife and my own formula of watercolor medium (gum arabic, light honey, glycerin, tiny amount of synthetic ox gall, extremely tiny amount of clove oil). It’s not meant to be a comparison of tinting strengths or how each paint behaves other than granulation. None of these swatches are just a single brush stroke, as I was trying to get the paint to granulate. The paper is 140 lb cold pressed Arches.

Blue 30th Chart
Click here for a large chart.

A1 – PB32 – Smalt, very fine
A2 – PB31 – Egyptian Blue – The first synthetic pigment, made in ancient Egypt
A3 – NA – HAN-Purple, fine – an ancient pigment used in China
A4 – PB30 – Blue Verditer – a synthetic azurite
A5 – PB29 – Lapis Lazuli, sky-blue – genuine lapis lazuli
A6 – PB1 – Indigo, genuine – smells bad when wet, but very nice blackish darks
A7 – NA – Colored glass, Lapis Blue
A8 – NA – Ploss Blue – a form of distilled verdigris
A9 – PB30 – Azurite MP, pale
A10 – NA – Sodalite

B1 – PG24 – Ultramarine Green – a rare pigment not made anymore
B2 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, very dark
B3 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, greenish extra – the most intense ultramarine blue
B4 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, greenish light
B5 – PB29 – Ultramarine Blue, light
B6 – PV15 – Ultramarine Violet, medium
B7 – PB27 – Prussian Blue LUX
B8 – PV16 – Manganese Violet
B9 – NA – Copper Blue
B10 – PB71 – Zirconium Cerulean Blue – similar to cerulean but more granulating and contains no cobalt

C1 – PB74 – Cobalt Blue Dark
C2 – PB28 – Cobalt Blue Dark, greenish
C3 – PB74 – Cobalt Blue, Sapporo
C4 – PB28 – Cobalt Blue Pale (matte) – looks very nice for skies near horizon
C5 – PB35 – Cobalt Blue Light
C6 – PB36 – Cobalt Blue, greenish
C7 – PB28 – Cobalt Blue Turquoise Light
C8 – PB36 – Cobalt Blue Turquoise Dark
C9 – PV14 – Cobalt Violet, dark – similar to manganese violet, but cleaner color and more granulation
C10 – PV49 – Cobalt Violet Brilliant, light

A few extra notes- Three of my favorites are the smalt (A1), ultramarine green (B1), and cobalt blue pale (C4). Though the set isn’t inexpensive, it’s a very good deal when you consider how much is in it. Dividing the price by the number of pigments, and considering that 27 of the 30 jars look like they have roughly enough pigment to make about a regular tube of watercolor paint, it’s comes out to a very low price per tube. Much less than you’d spend buying such pigments as tubed paint. Plus, most of these pigments would normally be expensive to buy a small amount of them all, so a lot is being saved by being able to try them all. Also, I think I typed the names of all of these as they appear on the bottles, but Kremer’s website gives some of them slightly different names.

Egyptian Blue
Comparison of Egyptian blue made with light pressure (left) and heavy pressure (right). Using more pressure ground the particles finer and it seems like it’s the smaller particles that shifted to a greener hue immediately, which gives a very interesting effect. Both versions are a little iridescent.
Ploss Blue
Ploss blue is not listed on Kremer’s site as compatible with watercolor. Here’s a comparison between a paint swatch I made today (left) and one from a few days ago (right). It apparently yellows very quickly in watercolor, though I’m not 100% sure what it’s reacting to. Maybe something in the medium I made, like the clove oil? The verdigris I made myself didn’t yellow like this in watercolor (using the same medium, minus the synthetic ox gall, and a different batch), but it did in oil paint. It is listed as compatible with tempera though, so when I eventually try that I’ll give this a test. The color before yellowing is an exceptionally intense greenish blue.

Abyssinian Wolf, after Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Abyssinian Wolf 1

Watercolor and gouache on paper, 10″ x 8″

This is a copy of a painting by Louis Agassiz Fuertes of the Ethiopian wolf, which at the time the original (seen here) was painted was called the Abyssinian wolf. Their main source of food is the big-headed mole-rat. I remember watching these on a documentary a long time ago and seeing the wolf listening for sounds underground, then suddenly slamming its face directly into the ground and pulling out a mole-rat. I guess their skull is made to be able to do such things. Sometimes the wolf just tries to sneak up on the mole-rat at the surface when it’s at the entrance to its burrow.

For this painting I mostly used an old, dried tube of student grade burnt umber, which I didn’t like at all. I didn’t want to waste the paint since I already have it, but it didn’t have the appealing qualities of good burnt umber, such as granulation, and stained too much. A little mixed black and mars yellow watercolors were also used, plus some white gouache, and the background is all naples yellow gouache.

The original is definitely better than my copy. In the original painting the wolf looks less disinterested. My proportions are a little off too. By the way, it’s actually okay if people commenting on my posts have critiques to make of my work. :)

Bees on Flowers

I took some photos of bees in my garden using a very inexpensive lens extender tube on my camera to let me focus very close. It has to be focused manually though, and every slight movement closer or farther from the bee lost the focus, so most of the photos were out of focus. Click any of the photos below to open a 2560×1600 wallpaper version in a new tab.

Bee on Echinacea Flower 1 small

Bee on Echinacea Flower 2 small

Bee on Cantaloupe Flower 1 small

Bee on Flower 2 small

Native Bee on Cantaloupe Flower 1 small

This last one is a species of bee native to California. Honey bees aren’t native here, and I’ve read different sources saying we have over 1000 or maybe even over 1600 species of native bees. I don’t know which one this is, but I think it’s a solitary miner bee that digs little holes. They’re very tiny and move fast so it’s hard to even see them, and especially hard to get a close photo.

Cobalt Blue Comparison

Cobalt Blue Comparison

In a forum thread we were discussing cobalt teal and I posted this photo of various cobalt blue pigments in oil paint, which I thought I’d share here too. I can’t guarantee color accuracy in the photo, but I think it’s close.

Regular cobalt blue is normally made from the pigment PB28 and it’s a good, but often expensive, middle blue. It dries fast because of the cobalt content. Compared to ultramarine it’s a little more opaque and has a little less red while being lighter in masstone. Although this particular pigment is called by the name cobalt blue, all of the above paints contain cobalt. The difference between them being which other metals are included, such as aluminum or chromium, and in what amounts.

There’s two pigments that are labeled as cobalt teal by the paint makers that offer them. One is an uncommon and very opaque teal version of the standard cobalt blue pigment, PB28, and the other is a teal version of one of the cobalt greens, PG50. They’re similar enough that if you have one you won’t need the other. I almost never see other artists talk about having teals like these on their palette, so they must not be popular. I think they can be useful for painting green hills far in the distance, and definitely tropical water, but until now I’ve also rarely used them myself.

PB36 is another pigment that comes in a large range of varieties. Although it’s not the original cerulean blue, PB36 can be so close to the original in appearance that it’s often given the name cerulean. At the other end of its range are blue turquoise and green turquoise varieties. Shown here is a green turquoise. I like the turquoise color, but again I rarely use it.

The original cerulean is PB35. It typically dries to a more matte surface. Either this or the PB36 version labeled as cerulean would be good for painting skies, especially closer to the horizon where the sky has more green, as they are both slightly greener than cobalt blue. I actually prefer the PB36 version of cerulean because the color has a little more intensity to it. The name cerulean probably comes from the Latin word for heaven or sky.

Lastly, in the right column I mixed all of these with an equal amount of nickel titanate yellow, which is a somewhat dull lemon yellow, to see how they’d behave.