Green and purple shells

Sponsors at the Urban Sketchers symposia are always very generous. This past summer in Amsterdam our goodie bags were particularly full — so much so that I had to get an extra bag to bring everything home.

When I get back to my studio after this event, all of those samples (paper, paints and pens mostly) get filed on shelves or stored in drawers, and when the grey days of winter roll around I like to take them out and try them one by one. It’s like receiving a little gift each time I open something.

The shells today are painted with pans of Aquarius watercolours — high quality pigments made by Roman Szmal. I only have three pans of colour (one will be for another day) so today I tried Aquarius Green and Shadow Violet. I worked on a postcard-sized piece of hot press paper from Etchr Labs, but even on this smooth paper, the pigments create wonderful surprises. That’s likely because each one of these is in fact made from three pigments. The Shadow Violet is a mixture of Cobalt Green, Ultramarine Blue and Quin Violet. The Aquarius Green is mixed from Nickel Azo Yellow, Benzimidazolone Brown and Ultramarine Blue.

The consistency of the paint in the pans is creamy and pigment gets released quickly, without the need for too much water. I usually create my own colour for shadows but if I had some of the Shadow Violet with me on an outing, I would certainly consider using it. As for the green, it’s a convenience green that I could probably mix from colours I already have on my palette (Azo Yellow, Ultramarine and Burnt Umber) but it’s pretty rich and dark and in its diluted state, might just be the right pigment for painting the Live Oak trees in South Carolina where I will be teaching soon.

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