Sunday, June 4, 2017

Local color ~ connecting to place

Trying out a new resource and exercise!

 I was recently gifted with a book by one of my watercolor students titled  Local Color: Seeing Place Through Watercolor, by Mimi Robinson.  What a fabulous resource this is turning out to be!  I have been entranced by the color palettes and swatches throughout the book, but hadn’t tried my hand at doing them until last Saturday.  

Simple, but not easy...  yet also very enjoyable!
Saturday morning, sketch-group friends and I met at Naples Zoo to draw and paint.  After a leisurely walk through the park, I chose a section of landscape as my focus and decided to warm up with a series of color swatches.  I found that what seemed to be an easy exercise was (in fact) more complex; while it was challenging, it was also rewarding.  I spent most of my time analyzing what I saw in terms of hue and value and then creating squares of color that reflected the colors around me in the landscape. 

I tried a larger rectangular swatch of the colors and movement in the water, and learned what NOT to do.  I then created a thumbnail sketch based on my color investigations that I felt was very successful.  Then of course, it was time to move on to lunch and to work. 

The landscape
Looking back, I can see that creating the 25 watercolor swatches taught me a great deal, both in mixing color, and in finding value.  I realized that the assumptions I made about what colors I saw in the water and sky were off.  While we often exaggerate color and value for effect, decisions about how far to go should be based on seeing colors correctly in existing light and in relationship to each other, not based on faulty presumptions (Isn’t the sky always some shade of blue?  hmm…). 

Exploring online later, I found the “Local Color Collective,” where artists can email Mimi to share their own local color palettes and create a world view of place through color!  Take a look!

Click on any image to view larger.

The Naples Zoo is an amazing 43 acres that’s gone through many transitions.  It’s based on the tropical botanical garden first planted in 1919 by Dr. Henry Nehrling, plant and hybrid pioneer, but now is home to primates, lions, giraffes, alligators, and water birds, as well as many other species. 

You can buy the book Local Color through my Amazon Associates store to help support this blog.  Thank you!

Sketchbook entry:
Strathmore Visual Journal (140 lb. CP watercolor), 5.5x8 in.
Daniel Smith watercolors
Niji Aquabrush, large

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