Workshop 22: Bare Bones: Exploring Limited Palettes in Watercolour

Instructor: Shari Blaukopf

Workshop Description

never know where accidents will take you. Recently some Cobalt Teal pigment
leaked all over my palette, and the next time I went out to sketch I was
determined to use it up. It made its way into all my sketches for quite a long
time, and in the process it led me down a new path with colour. Most of us tend
to always dip into the same wells: green for trees, blues for sky. But what if
the sky is yellow? Or the trees purple? The idea for this workshop is to open
participants’ minds: to give them fresh ideas and options for using vibrant and
luminous combinations of colours, as we explore two and three-colour
combinations of pigments.


Learning Goals

In this workshop participants will explore new ways of working with colour through limited palettes: brights, neutrals and opaques. We’ll see how painting the same scene in different ways changes our perception of the place. Students will be encouraged to move out of their comfort zones and explore new colour combinations.

In this workshop we’ll look at:

  • Exploring new triads of colour, both bright and muted
  • Creating a centre of interest through use of pure colour
  • Creating unity in our sketches by limiting our colours
  • Retaining luminosity and keeping colours fresh
  • Defining value relationships and creating lively darks through a wet-in-wet approach and modifying viscosity of paint




          will start by looking at sample sketches and discuss different combinations of
          triads for creating limited palettes. I will introduce three or four
          combinations of colours, and then demonstrate the possibilities that can be
          created with each of them. We will look at creating vibrant neutral colours from
          our primary colours. As well, each of these triads will include one dark
          pigment, and I will show how to create lively darks by introducing pigment into
          wet washes.

          Exercise 1

          the first exercise, participants will create a small sketch using a triad of muted colours. Emphasis will be placed
          on finding a focus in the sketch by using the purest, most vibrant colour in
          one area.

          Exercise 2

          we will create a small sketch using a triad of bright colours. This time the emphasis will be on retaining white
          or light areas in the sketch.


          will gather to evaluate and compare the two sketches.

          Exercise 3

          Moving out of your comfort zone. Students will be encouraged to experiment with a
          triad of colours that is different, unusual, unlikely or seemingly inappropriate?
          In this final sketch, we’ll look at how value relationships take precedence
          over realistic colour.

          Final Discussion

          group will gather again to discuss and evaluate the final sketches.


          Supply List

          • A selection of tube
            watercolours. I will be using several triad combinations (but feel free to try
            other combinations if you have similar hues)
            Brights (Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Red and Ultramarine
            Muted (Cerulean Blue, Yellow
            Ochre, Organic Vermilion); and
            (Cobalt Teal, Quinacridone Gold and Permanent Alizarin Crimson)
          • Portable
            watercolour palette
          • Watercolour
            sketchbook (Moleskine or other) or small watercolour blocks
          • Small plastic
            water bottle
          • Brushes: medium
            size round (size 8-10), small round for details (size 3)
          • Pencil, pen for
          • Bulldog clips,
            kneaded rubber eraser, paper towels
          • Small folding


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