Monday, May 6, 2013

COLOR PROJECT: Painting a Sunset Using a Primary Triad

In this watercolor exercise, we will be using a Primary Triad as a color scheme.  We'll paint a simple sunset with just 3 watercolor pigments and minimal drawing . . . 

I chose a version of the Primary Triad -- Magenta/Yellow/Blue.  I used Quinacridone Magenta, Aureolin Yellow, and Cobalt Blue.  This bold and energetic color scheme should work well for painting a sunset.  

So, prep your watercolor paper (approx 6" x 8"), and your three pigments.  These are the only three pigments you will use for this exercise.

After wetting the paper with clear water, apply each of the colors using horizontal strokes.  Start with the blue across the top, then brush on the magenta (overlapping the blue a little), then the yellow (overlapping some of the magenta), then the blue again (overlapping some of the yellow).  Carry the blue all the way to the bottom.

If you have puddles of paint/water, set the paper/board on its side, so that the paint will run off.  Then, lay it flat to dry.  

When it is totally dry, use a pencil and a template to draw a small circle for the sun.  This should be in the bottom third of your painting.

You will also need some masking fluid and some way to apply it.  (I use a quill pen, which is super easy to clean and works great for small shapes and delicate lines.)  I pour a little masking into another small container and add a little bit of water, just to thin it.  It still resists the paint, but it makes it easier to apply.

Apply a thin layer of the masking fluid to the moon shape, using a quill pen.  Try to get an even line around the edge of the shape.  Rinse off the nib of the pen, and then clean it off with your fingers, so it's ready for the next time.  

Make sure the masking fluid is dry before you start painting again.  

Prep some more of those same three colors.  Wet your paper again, and this time, starting with the yellow,  brush on your paint in a circular motion.  Paint right over the "moon" and continue beyond that, then paint the magenta in a circle, overlapping the yellow a little.  Then, finish with the blue, overlapping the magenta and then taking the blue out to the corners and edges.  Let this dry flat.

After the paint is completely dry, remove/rub off the masking from the moon shape.

Using those same 3 colors again, paint the horizontal stripes again.  (Wet the paper first.)  Paint in this order:  Blue, Magenta, Yellow, and Magenta.  (No blue at the bottom.)

While this dries, clean off the blue from your palette.  Then, mix the yellow and magenta together, with some water, to make an "orange-y" wash.

Using this wash, paint the bottom third of your paper, forming the ground.  Overlap the bottom of the moon.  It doesn't have to be an even edge, and you can draw it in pencil first, if you want.  When this just starts to dry, make one or two horizontal passes with a damp brush.

Clean off the orange mixture from your palette, and mix up a purple mixture, using the magenta and the blue.

Use this purple mixture to paint over the orange shape, leaving just a sliver of orange at the horizon.  When this just starts to dry, make a few horizontal strokes with a damp brush, to give it a little texture and let some of the orange color show through.

Exploring the interaction between colors is a never-ending process -- there's always something new to learn!

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