Monday, August 31, 2015

Making a color chart for referencing pigment properties!

One of my students just asked me about pigment properties, specifically, how to know which paints are granulating. The best way to know how your paints will perform is to make a color chart of your paints and test them yourself. Here's my color chart, which I keep in my studio as a handy reference. I've been sharing this with my students in my classes, workshops, and demonstrations for many years, and now you can learn about it, too!


To start my color chart, I painted black stripes with acrylic paint on a large sheet of watercolor paper, and let them dry completely. When I paint a sample of watercolor across the black stripe, it shows me the opacity/transparency of each color.

While each watercolor sample is still wet, I backwash the color with a brushstroke of clean water. This shows me how granulating the color is, and also how much it will bloom. 

After the watercolor sample is dry, I use a damp brush to try and lift a stripe across it. This shows me how much staining strength that color has.

I try to get the same amount of paint and water on my brush for each test stroke, and the resulting intensity shows me the pigment load for that particular paint.

I write the name of color and the brand name next to each sample, as some colors are similar to others. Also, colors and their properties vary dramatically between brands.

I have a lot of tubes of paint in my studio, and this color chart helps me to distinguish which ones are right for which paintings. Cobalt, in particular, varies tremendously between the brands, and using a chart for reference helps me maintain consistency in my colors. I can quickly see the color at a glance, and determine which one is right for each specific situation.

I started this color chart several years ago, and each time I get a new color I add it to my chart for future reference and comparison. I learned how to do this many years ago when I first started doing product testing, and research and development for manufacturers of artist materials. I've been demonstrating this process to artists for many years in my classes, workshops, and demos, and over time my watercolor chart exercise has become a standard practice for artists and it is now copied and taught by art teachers everywhere.

Even if you're just an amateur artist or student, I highly recommend you make a color chart for yourself. It will help you to become familiar with colors and their properties, and help you to create better paintings!

posted by Annie Strack @ 3:53 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Plein Air Brandywine Valley 2015

I'm thrilled to be an invited artist in the Plein Air Brandywine Valley again! This year's event will begin on October 19th and the paintings will be exhibited for sale at Winterthur Estate and Gardens on the weekend of October 24 & 25. There will be a special preview party for patrons on Friday, October 23rd. Most of the paintings sell during the preview party, so be sure to get your tickets to this coveted event before they're all sold out! Be sure to check out the PABV website to get your tickets and learn more about this event. 
Each day, the artists are given a choice of 4 or 5 locations in the Brandywine Valley where they can paint. I usually try to go to two each day, one in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. Be sure to follow me on Facebook to keep up with my daily posts, and see where I'll be each day. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by -- I always love to meet my fans and followers in person!

posted by Annie Strack @ 5:09 PM   0 Comments

Sunday, August 16, 2015

I just finished these three seascapes this weekend, and tomorrow I am shipping them all off to their new home! I love painting seascapes! These are all full sheet (22x30) paintings, which fit nicely into 32x40 frames. Did you know, that a full size sheets of mat boards and foam core boards are 32x40, and that is because they are intended to frame a full sheet of watercolor paper without trimming -- providing a perfectly balanced 5 inch mat border. 
Annie Strack, 22x30 watercolor

Annie Strack, 22x30 watercolor

Annie Strack, 22x30 watercolor
 Now on to my next project! I signed up to participate in the Chart Pak Clear Print Vellum Journal Project. This journal is traveling across the country for artists to add their orginal work to it's pages. It arrived at my studio late Friday, and I have until the end of the week to create my page and send it back so that it can travel on to the next lucky artist. But first, I have to decide what I'm going to do on my page! Yikes! Fortunately, I perform best under deadline pressure :)
Annie Strack, Chart Pak Clear Print Vellum Journal Project

posted by Annie Strack @ 12:18 PM   2 Comments

Monday, August 10, 2015

a different kind of painting!

This last weekend I did a different kind of painting en plein air -- I painted my front door! I narrowed my paint choices down to about a dozen or so blue colors, both cool and warm shades, and then I asked my husband to choose from those choices, 
Before...

After!
The final result is this cobalt blue. I painted the storm door to match. I painted my house number in gold with a black outline on a plastic palette, and hung it on the door.

Painting both doors took a little more than a pint of paint. For the palette, I printed out the house numbers full-size on a sheet of paper and placed it under the clear acrylic palette (available at any craft or art supply store) to use as a template. I painted the numbers with gold ink, and outlined them with black paint. The black outline makes the numbers easier to read -- there is not enough value change between the gold and white, otherwise. After it dried, I turned it over and spray painted the back of the palette white.


posted by Annie Strack @ 2:49 PM   1 Comments

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