Monday, 20 August 2012

Fun with Vegetables and my Palette

Since coming home from Edinburgh I have felt really inspired and refreshed in my approach to watercolours.  I have been reviewing my palette even more (I started a few months ago) and as well as continuing to look at the transparency levels of the paints I use, I have also returned to using a restricted palette.

There were colours in the palette from the RBGE course that I liked, but there were a couple I wasn't so sure of.  Indigo (Winsor and Newton) I found particularly opaque and also very staining (Old Holland Indigo is transparent), whilst Permanent Alizarin Crimson is ok, but I really wanted to add a 'warm' red to the palette.  New Gamboge was a colour that I have liked from the course and it is a fantastic alternative to the cadmium yellows, as it is not opaque.  It is classed as a 'warm' yellow, but wasn't quite warm enough for me, so I have chosen one of my favourites, Quinacridone Gold.

So the colours that I have ended up with are all Winsor and Newton:

Permanent Rose - Cool
Perylene Maroon - Warm
Quinacridone Gold - Warm
Winsor Lemon - Cool
Indanthrene blue - Cool
French Ultramarine - Warm

I expect some of my Old Holland colours will creep in now and again, but for the moment I am really enjoying using these colours and feel that I am creating much 'fresher' washes with my new found awareness of transparency and colour temperature qualities.  Also, I will be using the colours once I start teaching again in September.  Below are the two colour wheels I created using these. 

My painting has been a bit restricted since I returned as I seem to have an ongoing neck problem, so can't sit in the same position painting for very long.  This has unfortunately meant that I have had to step away from the Seashore Life Illustration project that I was working on for the Wildlife Trust.  I really do hope that I can return to it in the future, but any comfortable painting time needs to be devoted to botanical art, as that is the main subject I will be teaching from September.

I have enjoyed working on a couple of small studies of vegetables.  I am down in Devon again on my friend's farm giving her some tuition time and have been exploring her polytunnel for little treasures to paint ! 

I painted the chilli first and tried desperately to maintain the highlights.  I persevered with it and didn't seem to lose them too much.  When I first put on the washes the white spaces for the highlights seem so severe and stark, it takes time to develop the painting and stepping away from it is always a good idea - bad neck or not !

The Borlotti beans were great fun to do.  I had always wanted to paint these beans after seeing them in Billy Showell's book (Fruit and Vegetable Portraits).  These specimens were not yet fully grown, but they still had the familiar variegated pattern over the green.  I used a lovely blue that I find creates some great realistic greens - Indanthrene blue and Winsor lemon for the green and used Permanent Rose for the patterning.

Base washes to add tone and form

The finished painting


  1. Your paintings are looking fantastic, love the chilli and your colours are really vibrant - well done for looking into the best options for you ... there are always so many suggestions but it only comes from trial and error.

  2. Thanks ever so much Vicki. Now I have got a bit of time to try out the palette I have a renewed enthusiasm in my painting - at last !

  3. Hi Sarah, loving your work here, so vibrant. Great to see how you work out your colours. x

    1. Thanks Jarnie, really having fun with colours at the moment !

  4. Your paintings are lovely Sarah - the chilli is a standout! Have you ever tried Feldenkrais classes? Wonderful, gentle movements for general aches, pains and postural problems - they may be helpful for your neck problem. Perfect for those repetitive, sedentary activities. :)

    1. Thank you Denise. I will definately look into the Feldenkrais classes. Luckily things are easing up now and start physio tomorrow.


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