Color Project

This is my project starting in July 2018, of making watercolor paintings in one color only. This is a challenge to myself to explore more deeply and to have a painting practice that produces regular images without overthinking content. I am limiting myself to using choices in application such as a wash or heavy and opaque or using different brushes to create varying marks and textures. Of primary importance is the quality and subtleties of the particular pigments.  There is so much that can happen just within one color alone. I really want to explore and see what happens. How will color influence image? How will color influence me? 

Color Project No. 7 is Cerulean Blue. This pigment is made with either cobalt tin oxide(PB35) or cobalt chromium oxide(PB36) depending on the manufacturer. This is PB35 made by Sennelier. If you are shopping for Cerulean and see something called Cerulean Hue just know that is Phthalo Blue and White and is totally different than this.  This has a smooth and velvety soft sky blue appearance. Last, but not least, cerulean blue plays a role in the X Files 3rd season in an episode called "Pusher" where the monster/villain uses that phrase to bend people to his will. I am going to re-watch this right now. cerulean blue cerulean blue cerulean blue

Color Project No. 6 is Verditer Blue. I started this painting on wet paper and worked up towards the shapes that I see as rain droplets hitting the water. This blue has a lovely clear and clean feeling. It is actually a mix of pigments which I was going to avoid for this project but it is a blend with a history which is interesting. Verditer is the manufactured paint version of azurite and was of course discovered accidentally as these things usually are. The pigment came about as an impurity when separating copper from silver. The copper nitrate solution came into contact with chalk and caused a green or blue substance to occur. They had no control over blue or green in manufacture and it was not stable in a painting so was not used by artists, unless they were poor artists! This modern day version is a reliable and lovely blue made with cobalt, cerulean and zinc white and made by Daniel Smith. ⠀

Color Project No. 5 is Cobalt Violet. This is a Daniel Smith watercolor. I use this color a lot but never have I used it by itself and I love it. There is a good granulation but it can be a nice smooth gradation as well. It picks up easily if you make a mistake. I was thinking of something metallic as I painted this.

The metal cobalt was used in medieval stained glass for that bright blue, but they did not figure out how to make cobalt into a pigment for paint until 1802. By half a century later there was a range of colors that could be made with cobalt that are more lightfast than the similar hues made with dye. Do a google image search for cobalt pigments for the greens, blues and purples if you are color fiend like me who enjoys such things.


Color Project No. 4 / Quinacridone Violet made by Daniel Smith.
Quinacridones are chemistry and not mineral or plant based. They are vivid and transparent. So beautiful. I did not have to stop myself from the urge to grab another color while painting this because I was happy with just this one color and now I notice the tube is almost empty.  As you can see, I was enjoying how the paint moved on wet paper. There is quite a value difference with layering this color opposed to the previous two reds although both Alizarin and this Violet are transparent. 

 No. 3 Alizarin Crimson by Schmincke. Alizarin Crimson is a synthetic version of Madder Lake. Lakes are made from dyes made from plant material and not ground minerals.  I wanted to make a similar flower to the Minnesota Pipestone one and it quite naturally came about that the pipestone flowers are more stone like than the alizarin ones. I noticed this after I was looking at the two of them and thinking about the different qualities of the flowers.  This shows me how instincts are the way I can learn things as I am only to observe and contemplate what I have done in the same way as thinking of a dream upon waking. 

Color Project No. 2 / Mayan Red made by Daniel Smith.
This is a very vibrant rose color with no yellow at all. The actual Mayan pigment was cinnabar which contained mercury and so we don't use that anymore. 
I like the bright red this has at its strongest opaqueness that is so different from the rosy hue of the wash. 

Color Project No.1 / Minnesota Pipestone 

One of the beautiful mineral pigments made by Daniel Smith. This has such a rich texture and feel. I decided to make a very geometric carved image and retain the painterly attributes of the pigment.