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This is the week that spring has sprung! Walking on Monday morning the sunshine was welcome on my face and it made realise just how long it had been since I had felt that warm glow – and how GOOD it felt!

Funny, how sometimes we don’t know what we are missing until we get reminded about it.

Kandinsky quote colour influence soul

I headed off on Monday (an extra leap year day!) to see an exhibition at the Mall Galleries. The exhibitions there are admittedly not the most cutting edge, but they are usually open submission shows from various art societies with different judges on the selection panel so they offer a broad range of current work, on a sensible scale that you may actually want in your home.

Yellow tape marks and gridThe current exhibition was for The Pastel Society. I may have been a bit abrupt and dismissed pastels as grannyish. Pastel vases flowers? No thanks! But recently I have found that I’ve been using them more in drawings and sketchbooks  in combination with other materials (more next week…) so I wanted so see what was going on in pastel land. I spotted maybe three artists whose work I particularly enjoyed, but three is enough to prompt some new ideas and wake me up to the possibilities. My mistake about pastels. Love making mistakes like this!

 

 

IMG_7031As I walked afterwards through London in the sunshine (always a treat!) I was just wandering towards an art supply shop and taking a few photos of things that caught my eye; these taped yellow markings on the windows of a construction site – warnings? Stars, in a row, but all different….

 

 

 

 

IMG_7047Later in the week I joined an Instagram challenge following a word prompt each day and on Thursday it was “yellow” . Noticing; that’s what it’s all about; once I knew I was on the look out for yellow I saw it everywhere… my image for that day was the soft yellow against the white stripe of brickwork. Sun over a built horizon? Random additions to a man made structure…

I even recognised that yellow had been with me all week, in the images I had captured previously. Making these visual links, and seeing how they surface, often a while later, is one of the great joys of making art.

Looking at art makes you see things in a new way. So here is my yellow story of the week: sunshine, abstract shapes, small flashes of colour in my urban environment, and highlights of yellow and blue in the current early stages of work on the easel. Watch out for the sunshine – it makes you feel great!!

On the easel Alice Sheridan

To keep up with regular images you can catch me on Instagram here.

If you like the look of this work in progress, make sure you are first to know when finished work goes on sale by joining for studio updates below:

Do you find that you are always attracted to the same colours?

It may be colours you choose to wear, or to decorate your home. If you are a painter you will almost certainly have a colour palette that feels personal and natural to you.

Some people go for cheery brights every time, while others prefer a more subtle softness that you get with more tertiary colours. At college my colours were always referred to as ‘squashed fruit’ colours!

One of the reasons for my #aprilcolour project was to stretch the colours that I mix and to learn about new paint pigments that are available. Let’s see if they can earn a place in my palette…

Quinacridone Burnt Orange (what a fabulous name, if you can remember it!) is, as the name suggests, a warmer brown tinged orange. It is often recommended for using as a warm wash to be used as ground or as a glaze as it has a high transparency. Introduced as part of the quinacridone pigment range in the 1950’s I admit it was a totally new colour to me and I was keen to see how it behaved.

I choose to mix with Paynes Gray and found this gave a beautiful range of soft plum colours. The Paynes Gray and Yellow Ochre gave a range of olive greens that softened to sage green with the addition of white. Here is my mixing page:

Alice Sheridan 365create aprilcolour abstract painting limited palette

Using a drawing from my sketchbook, I created this postcard landscape for the day’s daily painting. The colours worked well for me; enough softness so that they sat well together, a good range of deep purple and grey darks with the zing of the orange to provide a lift of colour without clashing as a brighter orange could do.

Alice Sheridan 365create aprilcolour abstract painting

Quinacridone Burnt Orange is definitely a colour I will be using more frequently – this one’s a winner!

Colour mixing Day 60Burnt Umber

Manganese Blue

Hansa Yellow Light

My first colour choice was completely random. Although nothing is really random so something must have directed me… Ok then…

Burnt Umber: because it is a staple colour and I needed somthing dark.

Manganese Blue: I bought this one day to replace a Cerulean as they both fall into the cool blue category. They both act as an almost perfect cyan primary and are great for mixing brighter greens. Manganese is supposed to be a denser colour but you’ll notice I was using a fluid version.

Fluid paints offer a higher flow while still retaining a high pigment load so you don’t get any ‘watering down’ of pigment you may get if you added extra medium to a heavier body paint. Until recently I had never used them but frustration with unscrewing tube lids led me to try this as the lid is a simple flip off. In this case it worked well so loosen up the other paints but I wouldn’t buy fluid paints as my preference as on their own they feel as though they limit the marks you can make with them.

Hansa Yellow Light: This was also as a tested replacement for Cadmium Lemon, a very cool yellow. Hansa yellows were first made in Germany before World War I using organic pigments that remain lightfast but have a high transparency. They make instense and clean colours when mixed and can be used as glazing layers because of their transparency.

If you’d like further information for choosing yellows you can find more on this  Gamblin colours page (although they are talking about oil paints)

The results?

Bright vivid greens, as expected. Probably too bright for anything I would usually use, but then you never know…. it’s always easier to tone down a colour hue by adding a touch of the opposite, but impossible to brighten one up so it’s good to know where to go when bright is what you are after!

The Manganese Blue is a beautiful colour and mixes with the Burnt Umber to create some good dark teals and turquoise when mixed with white. (I used Titanium White throughout the month)

If you expect ‘being creative’ is the same as being productive you are expecting too much.

Part of the process is simply a conscious awareness. An awareness of surroundings and influences so that you choose which of these are relevant and which you will draw into your work. I have been out of the studio this week as it has been half term. We have spent part of the time in Devon and as result my mental colour palette has been changing.

Recently I have been working on series of paintings for our upcoming Spring Show which use brighter colours than usual – lots of warm oranges and pinks in amongst the landcape colours. This series isn’t complete yet (I know, I know; artists and deadlines…!) and I’m looking forward to getting back to them.

B365create_014ut February in Dartmoor is not known for tropical warmth so my days recently have been more like this…. Beautiful misty greys and greens, sometimes shot through with a bolt of yellow as the sun breaks through, sometimes punctuated by a rich rusty orange of a remaining winter berry nestled in the deep green of a hedge. These are more my kind of colours!

Is this because I’m an English girl of the English landscape? I’m not sure – I grew up in inner London and we can notice and pick up whatever colours we like from our surroundings. Yet, just as we have favourite colours to wear or to decorate out homes, we are often drawn towards a certain grouping.

So, back in London yesterday, as I set out for my daily dog walk I thought I would try and spot some of my favourites – to be aware and notice which colours from the February landscape could also be spotted in an urban environment. It was the kind of gPhotowalk Alice Sheridan #365createrey foreboding sky I quite like and as I walked and snapped away, I realised why. I love brights and I love sludgy but it’s the combination of both together that makes things zing.

The dilapidated walls of an acqua tiled underpass, the orange metal crane reaching into the sky above the buildings, the colours of lichen against the greyish bark and stone.

All these could make wonderful colour combinations for a painting and might at some stage. Who knows? No need to decide right now.

I have used this photographic process of recording visual ideas, like a sort of immediate sketchbook, for a while now. Sometimes I back them up and store them in folders on my computer, but often they just act as a signal for what it is interesting to me at the moment. Like a signpost pointing me in the right direction. Noticing what crops up or repeats time and time again is a good clue – if we take the time to notice.

Pin this idea for later

This was Day 20 of my #365create project. Not every day is full of creative output;some days are more reflective.

You can read more about it here, but if you like the idea and would like to see where it leads why not join my newsletter list below?