Color Mingling: A Demonstration

To create the multi-dimensional look of sun-dappled flowers, Anne Abgott controls the paint in two ways: she works flat and paints on dry paper (she uses her brush to wet only the parts of the paper she’s working on). When she drops more pigment into areas she’s working on?to darken value or intensify color, she has a secret: she first removes what she calls “the bubble” of paint from the tip of her brush by touching the brush’s tip to a pad of paper towels. To avoid blooms, she makes sure that the new paint is both thicker and drier than the paint that’s already on the paper.

Another important factor is the chromatic possibilities of the paints themselves. After experimenting and testing hundreds of tubes of paint, Abgott has carefully chosen her palette: new gamboge (W&N), golden ochre (Schmincke), garance rose (Pebeo), permanent rose (W&N), brown madder (W&N), verditer blue (Holbein), mineral violet (Holbein), cobalt blue (Holbein), Prussian blue (W&N), and ultramarine turquoise (Daniel Smith). She works on 300-lb. paper that allows for a longer working period.

Abgott works to achieve the right value the first time round. Since she really dilutes her paints, they dry two values lighter; thus, she paints each area two values darker than she ultimately wants them to be.

Step 1: Zooming In
Anne Abgott travels with a camera, a pair of pruning sheers and a step ladder. When the artist saw this delicately lit bouquet across a restaurant dining room, she grabbed her camera and took several shots. She decided to zoom in and paint just two blossoms.

Step 2: Transferring the Image
Using a grid drawn on a piece of clear acetate and laid over her sketch, Abgott transfers her drawing to a sheet of 300-lb. paper. She then squeezes an Artist’s and Draftsman Dry Cleaning Pad and scrubs with it to remove excess graphite.

Step 3: Mingling Colors
Using a large, round brush, the artist wets part of the paper. Making one puddle each of garance rose and new gamboge, she applies the colors separately and allows them to mingle on the paper. She sets the paper aside until it’s completely dry. Then she applies watery, warm colors next to each other to create middle values.

Step 4: Adding Nuances
The artist drops Prussian blue and ultramarine turquoise into the background so that the colors mingle. She then drops extra paint into the areas under the petals.

Step 5: Pushing Petals Back
Using the same colors that were present in the first layer, Abgott applies a glaze to the lower petals. Where two layers of petals need to be the same value, she makes one layer warm and the other cool?a process that pushes the petals back.

Step 6: Glazing for Rich Effects
Abgott applies additional glazes to the petals. She often turns both her painting and her reference photograph upside down so she can see “shapes rather than things.”

Step 7: Refining Passages
Adjusting the values, Abgott pulls some of the background color over the lower petals in Golden Moment (watercolor on paper, 15 x 22).

Courtroom artist and art instructor Butch Krieger is a contributing editor to The Artist’s Magazine. He lives in Port Angeles, Washington.

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