Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Color Journal: Fresh Tea

I spend an enormous amount of time in my sketchbook.  With young kids I find that my time in the studio is limited, but it doesn't mean my art time has to be limited too.  I'm never without a sketchbook and go through them quicker than anything. 

I keep several sketchbooks on the go at once, and find that they are an essential part of my creative fitness. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't fill several pages with something artistic.  I keep a book for sketching, one for the classes I am teaching, a book for painting technique, a book for composition, product sampling, color testing, and several for travels and observation, to name a few.

One of the most important tools I have as an artist is my "color" journal.  Color is probably the single most critical factor in my artistic approach, and keeping abreast of color combinations, trends, patterns, hues, tones, mixes, and meanings is vitally important to me.  Whenever I see colors, or combinations of color I put them in this book.  I cut inspiring pictures from magazines, little swatches of fabric or paint chips, or whatever I find that inspires me in a colorful way. I make notes about what works well together and what doesn't, and I use this as a guide in my art...every single day!!

Every time I get new paints or products, I sample them in my color journal.  I create color charts, palettes, and swatches, and play around with mixing techniques and combinations.  The next most important factor in my art life, apart from paint, is paper.  To me, paper matters.  So when I recently got a note from Mike at Stillman & Birn, asking if I would like to try out some of their sketchbooks, I was thrilled.  You see, their single, simple philosophy is that paper matters to them too.


A few days later a lovely little package of sketchbook samples arrived from NJ, and just in the nick of time.  Several of my current books are just about full and I was about to go on the hunt for more sketchbooks.  Mike sent me a sampling of their current range, which I must say is impressive.  Each book has different paper, designed for different purposes, but of course, if the book can't fit with my approach, then it's not going to work for me, so I promptly ignored the marketing hype about what each book was good for, and put them to work for me and my technique.

So, Luminarte have just released 25 new colors in their fabulously successful Silks Acrylic Glaze line and I have been spending quite a bit of time with them under my fingernails.  Of course, the first thing I did was color swatch them, then sort them into palettes and sample them in my color journal.  I needed to know what colors work together, how intense some of the pigments are, and how bright the shimmer.  Oh boy...these new colors vastly exceed expectations.


So the burning question for me was how well would these Stillman & Birn books couple with the intensity of Silks Acrylic Glaze?  I decided to crack open the 81/2" x 11" Alpha Series sketchbook in Natural White. Although Stillman & Birn say this book is good for all dry media and will accept light washes, it has a heavy weight paper, so I decided to take it one step further and give it the acrylic paint treatment.  If this book could accept multiple layers of heavy pigmented acrylics like Silks Acrylic Glaze, then it is a winner.

As you can see in this page, I put together a beautiful fresh palette of colors from the Silks range (with a little help and inspiration from Design Seeds, an awesome online color resource I HIGHLY recommend), and promptly put both the book and the paint to work.  The paper quality in the Alpha Series sketchbook is just beautiful, being a Vellum surface, it is smooth and solid, which to my utter joy, took the paint perfectly.  The Silks colors in this palette, which I am calling "Fresh Tea Tones" are Pretty Peridot*, African Jade*, Guatemalan Green*, Solar Gold, Fuzzy Peach*, and Cinnamon*.  (The colors marked with a * are new release colors. You can see the full range of colors here.)

Fresh Tea Tones brings together a mix of warm and cool greens in subtle variations. I felt this combination represented a beautiful spring afternoon, or high tea in the garden, the promise of a warm and sunny day.   I used Fuzzy Peach as an under-tone behind Solar Gold and Cinnamon because it gave a warm glow to the colors above. Pretty Peridot has quickly become a favorite of mine as it has a beautiful gold tone and a richness that is sweet and fresh.  I used it both as a pure color in the background, and as an under-tone to the Guatemalan Green.  African Jade is one of the most beautiful shades I have seen and compliments every color it sits near.  I has a rainbow crystal shimmer to it that picks up the colors around it, softening and enhancing at the same time.

This tea cup and tea pot were done with multi-layers of Silks Acrylic Glaze and ink detailing. The paint moved beautifully over the surface of the paper without settling prematurely, allowing for plenty of movement.  The ink held well on the paper as well, and there was absolutely no bleed through, running or fanning.  I'm simply overjoyed with this new book.  It's solid, hardworking, well made and beautiful, and I can't wait to get stuck into the rest of the range.  The Stillman & Birn sketchbooks come in several paper types, weights, and sizes, and are available from most good art supplies stores.  If you'd like to know more about these must-have sketchbooks, click here.

So based on this little experiment, I will be road-testing more of the new colors from the Silks line along with the other sketchbooks from the Stillman & Birn collection.  I will be putting together some color palette recommendations from both the Silks Acrylic Glaze line and the Twinkling H2O collections, I'll be comparing these colors in other mediums such as watercolor pencils, water-soluble crayons, and regular watercolor paints, and giving you some tips, tricks and techniques for keeping a color journal and working with color.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for checking in. xx