Karen Frey: Saturated With Color

My approach to color actually stems from my fascination with the wet-into-wet technique. As I explored this technique, I discovered that the key to success with it lay in the ability to understand and manipulate the water-to-pigment ratios. With this realization, I adjusted my palette to include a middle and dark value, and a cool and warm within each of the primaries. The midtone and dark values allow me to maintain saturation?I don?t have to thin and thus weaken my dark?to create a midtone. And the cool and warm versions of each primary increase my options. My palette now consists of: ? Cadmium yellow lemon (a cool midtone) ? Cadmium yellow deep (a warm midtone) ? Yellow ochre (a warm, mid-value earth tone) ? Quinacridone gold (a warm midtone) ? Burnt sienna (a dark, warm earth tone) ? Cadmium orange (a warm midtone) ? Cadmium red light or vermilion (both warm midtone colors) ? Alizarin crimson permanent (a cool dark) ? Quinacridone rose (a cool midtone) ? Ultramarine blue (a cool dark) ? Cobalt blue (a cool midtone) ? Prussian blue (a warm dark) ? Peacock blue (a warm midtone) ? Manganese blue (a warm, opaque midtone) ? Phthalo green (a cool dark)

Frank?Looking Out the Bedroom Window (watercolor, 14×21)

I don?t do any preliminary sketching. Instead, once I?ve chosen my subject, I use highly diluted manganese blue to draw my composition on my painting surface. I use as little line work as possible here?just enough to help me better understand my subject and establish the compositional information I need to build my masses.

Boy With Striped Shirt (watercolor, 14×20)

When the initial wash is on paper, I begin to develop value ranges within each area. I slightly increase the pigment-to-water ratio of the first wash and add a second wash. Then I complete each area by adding a bit more pigment to the successive washes.

D.L. Hawley is a professional freelance writer and artist who paints in oil.

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