Travel Palettes

Paint Choices for Small Palettes
(and toxic pigments and baked ziti)

A few posts ago, Annie had some questions about paints and pigments.

In my book, A Petoskey Watercolor Journal, I list the colors I use in my teaching of watercolor journaling, and I suggest using Windsor and Newton paints because of their quality and availability.

The colors I suggest in the book are: permanent rose, hookers green, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow, and burnt sienna.

I also suggest these colors because I feel teaching journaling technique is more important than teaching color mixing in a brief journal workshop.

So now we come to the "However. . ." I have been using Daniel Smith watercolors exclusively for the past couple of years. No - I am not advertising for DS - just stating a fact. Colors are not the same across the board and I used to use some of, maybe, three manufacturers. Once you get used to a manufacturer's take on a color, it makes your life so much easier to just keep ordering from that one manufacturer. And I do think DS pigments are great.

As for color choices, again, these are suggested because it is easy to run into an art supply store and find them. I am all about instant gratification, and I feel if someone wants to get journaling, they want to get journaling - not try to find a mail order catalog and spend hours looking up the right stuff!

Annie had a question about manganese blue. A few years ago, the original pigment was "outlawed" and we couldn't get it for awhile. The new and improved manganese blue seems to have the same granular properties, which is what I love about it.

So, if I were to limit myself (which I do) to just a very few colors for tiny travel palettes, what would I choose? If I had room for only three colors, they would be permanent rose ( or something similar), ultramarine blue, and hansa yellow or lemon yellow. To add a couple more I would put in hookers green and manganese blue. Two more - cobalt violet and phthalo yellow green (NOT phthalo green yellow shade)

Sometimes, it is not just about the color, but also the properties of the pigment - if it granulates, if it is transparent, if it stains . . .

I had an email this morning asking about the best way to dispose of our paints and paint water if our pigments are toxic. I think the only toxic paint I am using these days is Cobalt violet. I don't use cadmiums and the manganese colors have been reworked, but if some of you are using these (and cobalts), you may want to be aware of their toxicity when painting with children.

As for disposal - I think you might want to google the subject and see what you think is best. I am not well versed in this and don't want to be quoted as saying, "Aw, heck, dump it down the sink". Look on your tubes of paint and see how they are rated - it will be on there. You'll probably find, that unless you are using cobalts and cadmiums, you have no toxic pigments.

"Marpia" asked in a comment how to make baked ziti special. The best way I know to make it special is to serve it by candle light.


Food Blogging - Christmas Season

One More Time

Yes, I'm baking ziti again. AND blogging about it. Ziti seems to be one of my temporary obsessions - like making sketchbooks and reading everything I can find on Jack London. I've put those two things on hold until after the holidays.

I have Christmas Eve Eve dinner to fix and a few errands to run. I have to make a run back to the grocery. I can tell exactly, by looking at my list, which aisles I ran into friends to talk to. I guess I can't shop and talk at the same time. Well, we all knew that.

One more Christmas present to buy and only a few more to wrap. I'm doing okay. How about you? Hope things are going well, and that you are all having a great holiday season.

MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours!


Baby Eggplants

Painting Colorful Shadows
and mixing (baby) eggplant colors

We worked in this week's classes on mixing colorful shadows. We mixed them on the palette and on the paper, getting very different results.

After having a break between sessions and then having a snow day last week, we'll take two weeks off for the holidays. We'll jump in with both feet when we get going in the new year.

The sun was shining here today!!! Wonderful. I went to the post office and there wasn't a line! Sunshine, no line - what a day!


Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts in my Sketchbook

I was ready to cut these in quarters, toss them with olive oil, garlic, and walnuts, and roast them. However - they were just calling out to be painted.

If you haven't tried them roasted like this - oh my gosh! Even if you don't like Brussels sprouts, you'll like these. If you have never painted them - try it. You'll like that too!

MORE snow today! Another class cancelled. During the class time I made a pot of coffee, cranked up Pandora, and worked on my year-end evaluation. Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity has some interesting evaluation and planning strategies - a little over the top for some of us maybe - I don't plan to visit 20 or more countries this coming year, but there are lots of interesting things on his blog.

That's it for my day - Brussels sprouts and year-end evaluations. I miss my students!!!


Cellar Door Painting and the Snow Boarder

Painting on Clayboard

In the previous post I showed the sketch, and I have been working off and on for the past couple of days on the painting.

We had a pretty big snow storm last night, and I had to cancel the first meeting of my eight-week Wednesday morning watercolor class.

You'd think I'd be able to use that time to really get into this painting, but with all the neighborhood activity of digging out, I was pretty distracted. Everyone was stuck - even the garbage truck was stuck. Just as I really got into the rhythm of painting, some guy came along and took a toboggan out of his van and tried to snowboard down the street. It didn't budge, so he kept moving it an inch at a time trying to find a slippery spot. That didn't work, so he hauled out a runner-type sled and tried that. That didn't work either. Then he started to wave down every pickup/plow that went by. Apparently, he wanted someone to plow out a parking space for him, and just thought he'd "snowboard" while he waited. That was my entertainment for the day.

I think I'm going to move into a cozy windowless corner to work, but think what I'd miss. I'm the one who is always going on and on about life influencing our art. Who knows what might come of watching the "snowboard guy".


Cellar Door

Gretchen's Cellar Door

This is a pencil sketch in one of my sketchbooks. I have painted this doorway a few times in different sizes, from different angles, and in various color combinations. I never tire of playing around with those shadows. Right now I am trying it on textured clayboard, and I'm finding the shadows don't work real well on that. I tend to paint in layers, and because clayboard allows colors to lift (the good news and the bad news), it is hard to build up the shadows. I'll let you see what's happening when I get a little further into it.

In reference to the previous post - the last of the ziti (at least three servings!) was finished off by a starving grandson after basketball practice. I knew that ziti would come in handy. Never under estimate your need for baked ziti.


Rosemary and Onions

Thank God for Baked Ziti.
Are we paying attention?
Do we really look at the everyday things around us? A year ago I was having my classes paint a series of themes. They could pick what they wanted to do for eight weeks, and really pay attention to that theme. It makes us aware of the everyday things around us - our food, doorways, barns, chairs, shadows, figures. Our everyday life enhances our art - our art enhances our everyday life.

I don't think a painting starts with a sketch. It starts with observing and appreciating. It starts with the way you see and feel everything around you. Nothing is too trivial to stop and appreciate - whether it's a handful of paint chips just because you like them together, or rosemary and onions on the cutting board just because you like the way they look against the wood.

Tuesday night I made baked ziti - enough for an army. The next day I was very involved in a project that really wasn't going all that well, and I just wanted to keep working on it. Thank God for baked ziti. It's the simple things in life, isn't it? And the ziti.