In the Studio Eidolons with Thoughts about Color

Watercolor from the 1990’s

In every case have they mentioned the poetry that I succeeded in getting into the pictures and not the effect or action–I consider that a big victory! . . . It has thoroughly stirred up in me the desire to make that poem a life work . . .

N. C. Wyeth, letter dated June 7, 1907

[Andrew] Wyeth’s depictions of commonplace visual realities are always charged with high emotional content. Without tricks of technique, sentiment or obvious symbolism . . . he can make a prosperous farmhouse kitchen or a rolling pasture as bleak and haunting as a train whistle in the night . . .

Elaine de Kooning writing in Art News about Andrew Wyeth’s work

This morning’s reading in the studio involved N. C. and Andrew Wyeth books side-by-side. Andrew has been my hero since ninth grade; N. C. only in the past few years. Throughout my life of watercolor experiments, I have tried to focus on the drawing aspects of the medium as well as the neutral color schemes favored by Andrew. Only in the past decade have I dared to venture into more high-key color combinations favored by N. C.

I am still trying to figure out color. Whether I linger in the neutral palette or try for spontaneity in higher key colors, in either case I have far more questions than satisfactory answers. And I am certainly open to any ideas, insights or suggestions my readers wish to contribute.

Most recent example of Andrew Wyeth palette
Most recent example of higher-key palette

One major difference in my neutral palette of today (the trout fly) vs. one from the 1990’s (pictured at the very top of this post) is that my palette of the old days was loaded with colors including Yellow Ochre, Sepia, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, and Raw Sienna. Those colors disappeared from my work several years back. The trout fly above is primarily Winsor Violet and Transparent Yellow. When needed, I’ll stir in Winsor Red or Winsor Blue. For the blackest hue, I mix Winsor Green and Alizarin Crimson. I have found much more satisfaction with my restricted palette of recent years.

As soon as I feel safe to travel again, I intend to revisit canyons in west Texas and Colorado. When that day occurs, I have a fistful of new colors I am ready to try out, all of them Daniel Smith quinacridone colors (I’ve exclusively worked in Winsor & Newton since the 1980’s). My new quinacridone colors include Gold, Deep Gold, Sienna, Coral, Burnt Orange, Rose, Purple, and Burnt Scarlet. I’m excited to see what kind of combinations I can produce from these.

I am beginning work on my second trout fly, an 8 x 10″ of the Royal Wulff. The colors will be much brighter on this pattern than the one posted above. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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