Seeing In Color

I recently purchased this book from Amazon, “Local Color – Seeing Place Through Watercolor,” by Mimi Robinson:

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I was intrigued by the idea of remembering a place or a subject by its color palette.  So I decided to give it a try by a photo of this late blooming crabapple tree in my backyard:

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I started reading the book last evening but what grabbed my attention was when she discusses seeing color by the time of day, season, etc. – things I have never really thought about before.  And how this can change the colors we see around us.

The above photo was taken on a warm, Spring afternoon so the sky is a brilliant blue.  How would the colors of the crabapple change if it was a cloudy day or if the sun was setting?

I also liked her idea about naming your own color palettes, “More often than not I invent new names for colors – I want colors to evoke a more personal connection to the place.”

She suggests you paint the colors you see in a grid format and leave room for notes.  If you use a similar format each time then you can compare them.  Sounds like fun to me – so I decided to give it a try on these three photos taken when the flowers were just starting to  open, right after they opened and when they were starting to fall from the tree:

These are the colors I saw, recorded in watercolor:

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I am AMAZED that there are all these colors in this tree!  I look forward to doing more of these color palettes!  (I need to make some of my colors darker but I ran out of time.)

How do you record the colors you see when painting a subject in watercolors?  I’d love to hear from you!

Happy Painting!  🙂

31 responses to “Seeing In Color

  1. These are amazing Jill! So many colors and all I can see are shades of pink, green, yellow and brown. 😉

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  2. Sounds like a great book. That is a cool exercise, Jill. Great find.

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  3. It’s amazing how your eyes consolidate all the colors, isn’t it? I noticed it when I was doing grids based on works of art…I couldn’t believe all the subtle shadings that were really contained in what I saw. This looks like a great book, and I love what you did with it. (K)

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    • Yes, it is amazing all the colors we see when we really look! I remember now that you did those color grids. Sounds like you learned a lot from that exercise- could you tell me how it has helped you in your art journey, Kerfe? Thanks! 😄🎨👍

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      • I do look more closely at colors, but I’m actually not very good at quantifying what I get out of the things I do. Especially since I start out one place and most of the time end up somewhere else. But I’m sure some of it sinks in somewhere and influences what comes out!

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      • Glad to hear that happens to you too, my friend! 😄

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  4. This is wonderful Jill. I need to get better disciplined around this. Do you recommend the book?

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  5. Wow, what a terrific exercise this was, Jill! Oh and your photos are so luscious! I think I would be writing down the color recipe along with the part of the flower, because my memory is so bad, I may not remember how I mixed those shades. Your colors are so beautiful! Love this!

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    • An excellent idea, Laura! 🎨👍 Maybe leave a margin on the side to list the paint colors I used. I was thinking this could probably be done with other art mediums too like acrylics. One of the reasons I got the book was to record places I visit by a color palette. The author gives some great examples in her book and writes in a descriptive manner so you feel like you are there with her. One of the places she describes in the beginning of her book is Point Reyes and her description of the Pacific Ocean made me think of you. 🌈😊

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  6. That’s a really creative idea. 🙂

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  7. Thanks for sharing your new book Jill. I’ve never taken the time to record the colors I use in this manor, but it looks like a good exercise. I’ll give it a try. 😄☕️

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  8. I my gosh!! What a fantastic idea! That book sounds wonderful. I have to admit to lacking time or patience to do swatches, but it’s on my list to try one day. 😊So I’ll just drool over yours and say… wonderful work!! 😍

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    • Thanks Charlie! 😉 I like like the idea of creating a color palette based on a place you visit to record it like a journal. And I always enjoy learning a new way to see the colors around me. 🎨💕

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  9. I need to get that book, I never have enough books, especially about art. I really like how you labelled the swatches…..they are worth doing that is for sure. I need to experiment more with color and make more swatches but label them like you did. 🙂

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    • Hi Margaret! I love art books too! Hehe! 😍💕 I like this one because it is rather thin in size and has lots of good examples and exercises. The author writes very descriptive too which makes it feel less like an instructional book and more like sitting down with a good friend. I look forward to exploring color more with this book! And please let me know how you like it if you buy it. 🎨👍

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  10. Love this exercise… I bet it really sharpens the observation and eye for color. I’ll have to try!

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  11. Beautiful images of your Crabapple Tree Jill! That sounds like a great exercise too. I recently watched a tutorial by The Mind of Watercolor where he used a little slide viewfinder to really study color in his reference images to get the colors right. The exercise you did would be very beneficial to getting the colors right later when you want to paint the blossom, or tree with blossoms. Keeping a record of colors season by season is brilliant!

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  12. Thank you Deborah! I find this concept very interesting – I’m glad you do too! 💕😍 Who taught the “Mind of Watercolor”? It also sounds like something I’d enjoy. Laura had a good suggestion about writing down the colors I use too. My memory isn’t as good as it used to be! 🎨👍😉

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  13. Very interesting Jill! Thanks for sharing. Such a good idea to plan out the colors we see before painting. I always dive right in. Im notorious for not reading directions so it isn’t surprising!😄

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    • I liked the author’s idea of remembering a place by it’s color palette. I don’t like following rules but I do like the idea of seeing color in a new way. Thank you for your comments, Eileen! 💕🎨👍

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