Celebrate World Watercolor Month: Sketching & Journaling w/Gay Kraeger

Capturing your world through art in a journal is a low-tech, highly rewarding experience, but you don’t need us to tell you that. In her friendly and conversational video workshop, Gay Kraeger guides you through learning watercolor one step at a time: the basics, quick sketches, page design, lettering, and watercolor techniques needed to create illustrations of your life in the form of an art journal.

The Importance of Blue: Artist Pablo Ruben

Daniel Smith presents watercolor artist Pablo Ruben and “The Importance of Blue”

Undoubtedly blue is the essential color in my palette and I have up to six spaces reserved in my usual work zone for them. My works are characterized by cold and grayish ranges, so the blues are completely irreplaceable. The blues that I use the most are: Indigo, Indanthrone Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue Chromium, Lavender, and Cobalt Teal Blue.

Diagram of the colors used for “Fuente de Castellar”

When mixed with different earth tones (Burnt SiennaBurnt UmberSepia, etc.) I get infinite ranges of grays for all types of planes (background, middle ground and foreground). Mixed with a single yellow, I get a great variety of greens, as I do not usually have greens on my palette.

Pablo Ruben’s DANIEL SMITH Watercolor mixes for making grays

In the reference work “Fuente de Castellar” (Castellar Fountain) the blue is the essential protagonist of the work since the source is the main element of the work. To achieve the main gradient, three blues interlaced and fused with the proper density are necessary to produce the depth effect.

“Fuente de Castellar” by Pablo Rubén

Pablo Rubén has been painting since he was a child, and the last 18 years working as a professional artist. President of the International Watercolor Society of Spain, he has joined in many of the most important watercolor Biennials all around the World: China, Korea, Thailand, India, Mexico, Canada, Belgium, Italy and has been awarded in International competitions such as American Watercolor Society, San Diego Watercolor Society, Slovenia International Watercolor Society.  He is a passionate artist of “Plein Air” work and has more than 400 awards in this kind of contests in Spain and France. As a watercolor instructor he has given workshops in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Russia, Canada, USA, Brazil, and Mexico; being very appreciated as an art teacher. An avid traveler, urban scapes and all sorts of water reflections are the main subjects in his work, playing with aerial points of view to make original compositions. 

Pablo Rubén paintings demonstrating the Importance of Blue

“Pilar de la Horadada” by Pablo Rubén
“Alovera” by Pablo Rubén
“Membrilla” by Pablo Rubén
“Blue Bridge” by Pablo Rubén

R&F Pigment Stick Video Tutorial w/ Charles Forsberg

R&F Pigment Sticks Video Tutorial with Charles Fosberg

Charles Forsberg demonstrates how Pigment Sticks by R&F Handmade Paints are both a drawing and painting medium like no one else. He frequently returns to drawing, forcefully striking marks into the heavily manipulated buttery paint, then tearing it apart, alternating in a push-pull sequence of drawing and smearing, scraping back, revealing previous drawing marks, and piling what he has scraped up into thick sculptural mounds.

Painting becomes an amazing and unceasing gestural exercise over many hours, as Forsberg turns the formless ooze he started with into a powerful structure of shapes and sharply accented marks. www.charlesforsberg.com/

As part of our MOVING SALE, R&F Pigment Sticks are ON SALE at 15% OFF, including all R&F Pigment Stick Sets. The 6-color sets come packaged in a 6½” × 7½” cradled Ampersand Gessobord with six (6) 38ml pigment sticks. The 12-color set coms in a 8″ × 12″ Ampersand Gessobord with twelve (12) 38ml pigment sticks.

Experience Green with Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors

Douglas FryerHighway Farm (top), Patch of Sunlight (bottom left), Edge of an English Village (bottom right). http://douglasfryer.blogspot.com/

An Abundance of Green
At risk of stating the obvious, there is a lot of green in the world.

This is true not only in nature, but in science. Residing in the middle of the spectrum of visible light, the human eye most readily sees green more than any other color. With great abundance, comes great variety. Our task as painters to navigate this broad color family comes with many challenges and possibilities – as greens vary drastically in regards to temperature and intensity.

The color green can put our eyes (and minds) at rest. It is the world-wide color of environmental consciousness. Green is a primary of light (additive color-mixing), but not of pigments (subtractive color-mixing).

Navigating Green
We’ve heard from painters over the years that green is a challenging color family to mix within. It is. Not because we don’t have greens readily available from tubes, but because there is just so much darn green to navigate. We are so closely tied to nature, it can be a challenge to our sensibilities to incorporate greens of great intensity into our color palettes and paintings.

Let’s dive in and explore where the greens in the Gamblin palette fit into Color Space:

Mineral Greens
Cadmium Chartreuse (PY35, PG36)  OPAQUE
Cadmium Green (PY35, PG18)  OPAQUE
Olive Green (PBr7, PY75, PB29) SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Terre Verte (PY43, PG18, PBk9) TRANSPARENT
Chromium Oxide Green (PG17)  OPAQUE
Cobalt Green (PG19)  SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Viridian (PG18)  TRANSPARENT
Modern Greens
Green Gold (PY129) TRANSPARENT
Sap Green (PB15:2, PY83) TRANSPARENT
Permanent Green Light (PY74, PG7) SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Phthalo Emerald (PG36) TRANSPARENT
Emerald Green (PG36, PW6, PY74)  SEMI-TRANSPARENT
Phthalo Green (PG7) TRANSPARENT
Radiant Green (PG36, PY3, PW6) OPAQUE
Phthalo Turquoise (PB15:2, PG7) TRANSPARENT

Note that we’ve included Cadmium Chartreuse and Phthalo Turquoise in this mapping, as they sit on the edge of green and yellow, and green and blue, respectively.

Mineral Greens and the Phthalo Boost
Mineral green pigments, such as Viridian, Cobalt Green and Chromium Green Oxide beautifully grey down in their tints and mixtures making them useful when depicting muted greens of the natural world.

To fully capture the diversity of this hue family, greens with greater chroma may be necessary. Permanent Green Light and Emerald Green are ready to go for this. The cool, blue-leaning Phthalo Green and the warmer Phthalo Emerald are both deep from the tube, yet beautifully vibrant in their transparency and tints. You don’t have to use phthalo pigments long before appreciating their high tinting-strength. Another key characteristic of this family of these modern organic pigments is their intensity in their tints and mixtures. Thus, Phthalo Green and Phthalo Emerald are incredibly useful in boosting the chroma of muted greens and pushing the envelope on incorporating “unworldly” greens into our painting.

Mixing Greens

Because green is a secondary color, many painter choose to mix all of their greens. The possibilities are endless. For simplicity’s sake, the examples below are limited to two yellows (Cadmium Lemon and Indian Yellow) and two blues (Cobalt Teal and Ultramarine Blue).

A six-color, “split primary” palette is one popular approach in choosing and organizing one’s color palette. Essentially, it utilizes a warm and cool for each primary. With the mixing of pigments (subtractive color mixing), there will always be some amount of intensity of color that is lost when two colors are blended together. The mixture is absorbing (subtracting) more of the spectrum of visible light, compared to each of the original colors in the mixture. However, the closer any two colors are on the perimeter of the color wheel, the least amount of intensity will be lost. The Cadmium Lemon and Cobalt Teal are both on the green side of their respective color families. Therefore, the resulting mixture will yield the mixed greens with the highest chroma. Cadmium Lemon and Cobalt Teal are also opaque, so their mixtures reflect more light off the surface and result in greens of lighter value (brightness).

Colors that live farther apart on the perimeter of the color wheel lose more intensity when mixed together.  Indian Yellow and Ultramarine Blue is a good example.  Each have a red bias (green’s complement), so their mixture will result in a green closer to the neutral center of the color wheel. Indian Yellow and Ultramarine Blue are also transparent in nature, trapping more light within the paint layer and creating a deeper value.

Positioned a moderate distance from each other, mixtures of Cadmium Lemon and Ultramarine Blue, as well as Cobalt Teal and Indian Yellow, predictably fill out the middle of the green hue family- neither the brightest nor the dullest of greens.

“The secret of mixing greens is an understanding of color temperature and value. Every tone and hue must relate to adjacent tones and hues. I prefer to have a large number of colors on my palette, representing numerous points on the color wheel. This allows me greater variety of temperature and saturation in my mixed colors (whether they are light values or dark values) and more options for toning a color if I want to shift or neutralize it. This is especially true for greens. Allowing subtle transitions of warm to cool, dark to light within a passage can make a beautiful statement. Setting a complement like a red, orange, purple or pink next to, or within greens can make all the difference. Additionally, the process of glazing to achieve different greens is important to me.  Sometimes I will directly paint a lighter, warmer, relatively opaque green knowing that at a future point I will glaze a darker, cooler, transparent green (or other transparent color) over it. The two work together to make a new color you can’t get any other way.”
–   Douglas Fryer

Douglas FryerMill Near Sheepscombehttp://douglasfryer.blogspot.com/

Pierre’s ArtVentures: Albert Handell and Oil Pastels by Sennelier

There are so many reasons to like Sennelier Oil Pastels, check out this video where Pierre from Pierre’s ArtVentures hangs out with artist Albert Handell, who chats about how he uses Sennelier Oil Pastels and oil paint in his work.

Created in the 1940s in collaboration with Picasso, Sennelier Oil Pastels are creamy, lipstick-like pastels that are rich in pigment, cover well, and have outstanding opacity and lightfastness. Available in 110 “classic” colors and 10 iridescent colors, they/re acid-free, can be applied to any surface, and may be thinned with turpentine and worked with a brush. Modern Sennelier Oil Pastels’ diameter are 20% larger than the original stick, and are available in a larger size called “Grand”– the equivalent of eight regular size sticks.

Introducing Lorraine Watry, Watercolor Artist

Lorraine Watry “Spa Day”, Experimenting with Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors Greys

We are delighted to introduce DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Artist, Lorraine Watry! Lorraine will take us step-by-step through her process for making a watercolor painting.

“Spa Day” is from a photo I took of a Red Crested Cardinal after he’d bathed in a fountain. The photo intrigued me because of all the neutral colors around the bright pop of red-orange on the bird’s head. I decided to experiment with this painting and not only did I try the new DANIEL SMITH Greys, but I also tried a different brand of paper and a technique I don’t usually use – blooms. I began the painting by using my photo software to adjust the composition by moving the bird to the right and added some more water dripping in the fountain.

Step 1: Preliminary steps for “Spa Day”.

Step 1: I start all of my paintings by doing a detailed drawing from my photo. I then enlarge the drawing and transfer it to my watercolor paper using my light table. I stretched my watercolor paper onto foam board and while it was drying overnight, I played with the greys and did a small color study to get an idea of my techniques for the background.

Step 2: Masking out the bird and dripping water shapes, then beginning to add watercolor.

Step 2:  Next, I masked out the bird and dripping water with masking tape. I used masking fluid to mask some of the small drops of water on the bird’s feathers and in the background, as well as the highlights on the bird’s eye. I began the fountain by wetting the area and used a variety of the greys from Alvaro’s Fresco Grey and a little Gray Titanium on the left, to Joseph Z’s Cool and Warm Greys as I moved to the right. While these areas were wet, I flicked on water for blooms and charged in Bronzite Genuine and Mummy Bauxite for color variety and texture. As the area started to dry, I flicked on more of the BronziteGenuineMummy Bauxite, and Alvaro’s Caliente Grey to make the fountain feel like rough stone.

Step 3: Using Alvaro’s Fresco Grey in the background on the left….

Step 3: I used Alvaro’s Fresco Grey in the background on the left and under the bird on the ledge. I really like this cool/purple grey and I’m already using it on another painting. I glazed some of the Bronzite Genuine over parts of this area to give the gray fountain some patina. BronziteGenuine is naturally shiny so this pigment is fun to see up close because it sparkles. I used Joseph Z’s Warm Grey and a touch of Alvaro’s Caliente Grey to create the dark shadow on the fountain behind the bird. Then I removed the masking on one of the lines of dripping water to see if my values were working. This helps me decide if I need to add more glazes before removing all the masking.

Step 4: Working around all the greys of the background….

Step 4: I continued working around all the greys of the background and used some of Joseph Z’s Warm Grey for the shadow on the back left. I repeated the greys from the walls of the fountain in the water along with some Green Apatite Genuine and Quinacridone Gold. I debated whether to include the green in the water, but I liked the contrast with the red of the birds head. The green also appears along the front edge of the ledge the bird rests on. I finished up the majority of the background and shadows and then removed the masking fluid on the bird and dripping water.

Step 5: Starting the birds head with Quinacridone Sienna….

Step 5: I was excited to start the birds head and I began with Quinacridone Sienna for the lighter, muted orange feathers. After this dried, I added a mix of Pyrrol Scarlet and Carmine for the red feathers. Then to give the bird life, I painted his eye with a mix of Burnt Umber and Sodalite Genuine. I left the highlight at the bottom of the eye and later painted some Quinacridone Sienna on that area. After removing the mask for the brightest highlight, I added a touch of Cerulean Blue, Chromium to reflect the sky in the bird’s eye. The beak was painted with glazes on dry paper using Burnt UmberQuinacridone Rose, and Cerulean Blue, Chromium.

Step 6: Painting in the birds feathers with mix of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber.

Step 6: I decided to use Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber, a gray mix that I know well for the birds feathers. This mix allows me to vary the gray from cool to warm and keep a unified look to the feathers. I started adding glazes to the bird’s head for shadows and depth and mixed Cerulean Blue, Chromium and Quinacridone Rose for the shadow on the white body feathers. I softened the edges of some of the feathers by applying water while an area was wet or softened the edge after it had dried.

Occasionally I took a break from the feathers and worked on the dripping water in the background. I wet each drip and then painted it using Alvaro’s Caliente and Fresco Greys. I left some of the edges and circles within the drips white to make them sparkle.

Step 7: After adding many layers to the birds feathers….

Step 7: After adding many layers to the bird’s feathers, I removed the masking fluid from the water drops all around the background. I softened their edges using a small flat brush and water. Then I added some color to some in the shadows. For those that were floating on the water, I added a line to the middle and shaded the reflection in the water. 

Step 8: (Detail) At this point, I took some time to look at the almost finished painting….

Step 8: (Detail) At this point, I took some time to look at the almost finished painting. I decided that I wanted to lift some of the color in the water to create some larger white splashes. I used masking tape and a sharp blade to cut out some shapes. I was pleased with how well the Signature Series Greys lifted. After removing the tape, I cleaned up the shapes I created to integrate them into the surrounding water.

“Spa Day”, 20×28 watercolor by Lorraine Watry

In Conclusion: Normally, I would not recommend using so many different grays in the same painting. In this case, the variety of grays seemed to work together for the colors and textures of the fountain. I feel like this experimental painting was a personal success on multiple fronts. The different cold press paper that I tried worked well and gives me an option from my usual CP paper. I enjoyed experimenting with the textures of the fountain and the Primatek Watercolors, and the New Signature Series Greys really added to that effect with their granulation (Alvaro’s Caliente Grey is the only non-granulating gray in the bunch). Finally, it was a pleasure trying out most of the new DANIEL SMITH Greys in “Spa Day”. My favorites are Alvaro’s Caliente and Fresco GreysJoseph Z’s Warm and Cool Greys are close runners up. These will be added to my arsenal of convenience colors for future paintings.

Lorraine is a watercolor artist painting waterscapes, birds, and reflective objects in a realistic style. Lorraine’s watercolors are characterized by bright colors, dramatic light, and realistic reflections. She likes the challenge of painting water, glass, and metal and recently has become captivated with birds. Lorraine has a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Colorado in Boulder and after college designed clip-art for a graphics company for a few years. Lorraine began working with watercolor 25 years ago and taught the medium at Pikes Peak Community College. She currently teaches watercolor and drawing in her studio and at other venues. Lorraine enjoys the challenge of watercolor and starts her paintings with a detailed drawing. She likes to use intense color and many layers to build up the depth in her images. The DANIEL SMITH pigments are her favorite watercolors for their intensity of color, range of pigments, and beautiful granulations. Lorraine prefers to use the white of the paper and does not add opaque whites to her paintings. She is intrigued by reflections and how they interact to create abstract patterns in a realistic scene.

Introducing Sarah Graham, Watercolor Artist

Sarah Graham, Watercolor Landscape on Watercolor Ground and Wood Panel

We are delighted to introduce DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Artist, Sarah Graham! Sarah will take us step-by-step through her process for making a watercolor landscape on Watercolor Ground and Wood Panel. All Daniel Smith WatercolorsSets, and Grounds are on sale for

Step 1 – Sketch for “Hillside Refuge”

Step 1: As always, the first step is the idea – in this case, a simple concept drawing in my sketchbook.

Step 2 – Painting DANIEL SMITH Titanium White Watercolor Ground onto wood panel.

Step 2: Prime a wood panel with DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Ground in Titanium White I like to have a number of panels pre-primed in my favorite sizes so that I can get started right away. This piece is on an 8×8 cradled panel. Drying time for one layer is about 24 hours. I usually do 2 layers and then sand it smooth for more of a hot press paper feel.

Step 3 – First pass with watercolor.

Step 3: When I put down the first pass of paint, I usually cover as much of the piece as possible in order to get rid of the intimidating white areas and to get a good feel for my colors and values as a whole. As with watercolor on paper, the colors are much more intense going down wet, so be brave and go bolder than you think! 

Step 4 – Beginning to build watercolor layers.

Step 4: When the first layer is dry, the colors have faded considerably, and I have a good foundation. Here I begin to build my layers, mostly very wet on dry, adding variation to the greens in the tree and foreground. Also adding plenty of colors to the sky and clouds – yes, there are purples, reds and yellows in both!

This is where I establish my core colors, which I complement as I layer with accent colors. (see next step for more on the accent colors)

  • In the skyUltramarine Blue and Phthalo Blue GS with hints of Cadmium Red Medium Hue and Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue.
  • The greensPayne’s Gray with Quinacridone Gold in varying ratios.
  • The gray blue distant hillPayne’s Gray and Ultramarine Blue.
Step 5 – Adding darker values.

Step 5: Now I begin to tackle the darker values and mature my colors with accent colors. I punch in some crisp darks to define the cows against the blue background mountain early on so I can keep track of where my darkest darks are headed. From this point on, every layer will be values and colors that answer to each other and keep the eye bouncing around the piece, eventually settling under the tree to rest with the cows.

  • Accent colorsQuinacridone Burnt Orange to warm up the greens. I also add it to the purples below to make my browns for the tree twigs and cows.
  • The purplesUltramarine Blue or Payne’s Gray with Cadmium Red Medium Hue make a muted purple. More red for warmth. More blue for cool tones.
  • Cool blue graysPayne’s Gray and Ultramarine Blue.
Step 6 (close up) – Details added last.

Step 6 (closeup): The bare twigs on the tree come last, however tempting it is to jump the gun – and yes, they are definitely the most fun part. I use a no. 2 round brush with plenty of bounce or a rigger brush.

“Hillside Refuge” by Sarah Graham

Finished Painting: “Hillside Refuge”. Finally, all the darks and middle values are in, and the warm and cool colors are well balanced. Each part of the painting is treated with the same numerous delicate layers, regardless of its “importance” to the piece, because every part needs to belong to the others. Deep shadows in the foreground provide a natural border that hems in the serene nature of the scene.

Step 7 – After adding a protective coating the painting is ready for hanging in gallery.

Step 7: Apply a protective coating and display with or without a frame. I have tried various varnishes and coatings, and I am still feeling out what I like best, so take the following with a grain of salt and add your own flair to it. Basically, it comes down to a matter of preference. I like for my varnish to give my paintings a strong finished presence. For this look, I have found either a) several generous layers of cold wax or b) a brush on satin varnish over a glossy spray isolation coat work best. Both of these methods are represented in the gallery pictures above and below. This is a relatively new and evolving field, so experimenting is probably the best way to find what works for you. Just keep in mind that competitive shows have varying rules regarding acceptable varnishes for watercolor pieces, so do your homework if you plan to compete with your varnished pieces.

Happy painting!

Sarah Graham

Sarah Graham portrait photo

Sarah Graham currently lives with her husband and young sun in Duncanville, TX and is known for her sensitive touch with watercolors, especially her portraits. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Houghton College and also studied art and portraiture in Italy. In addition to receiving national and regional recognition for her work in competitive art shows such as Texas and Neighbors Regional Exhibition and Society of Watercolor Artist’s International Exhibition, Sarah has traveled extensively, translating what she sees into wet color or pen-and-ink sketches. Sarah is frequently sought out as a demo-artist and juror for art associations and exhibitions in the DFW area. Her particular love is to find something to treasure in whatever she looks at, both in her art and in her life.

Cold Wax Painting with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium

It’s a rare occurrence for one specific painting medium to have a whole genre of painting associated with it, but Cold Wax Medium is one such medium. Cold Wax Painting is not defined by subject matter nor the degree of realism or abstraction, Cold Wax Painting is unified by artists’ shared interest in experimentation, texture and the physicality of paint layers.

Cold Wax Painting with Gamblin Cold Wax Medium

What is Cold Wax Painting?

Cold Wax Painting is any type of painting that heavily utilizes Cold Wax Medium into oil colors. In its own way, Cold Wax Painting blurs the line between oil painting and encaustic painting.

What is Cold Wax Medium?

Gamblin Cold Wax Medium is a mixture of natural beeswax (wax pastilles), Gamsol and a small amount of alkyd resin. The term “cold” in Cold Wax Medium and Cold Wax Painting refers to the fact that heat is not required for working with this wax medium – as it dries by solvent evaporation (Gamsol), rather than the cooling of the wax, as in encaustic painting. As the Gamsol evaporates out of the medium, the soft wax hardens to the density of a beeswax candle.

Unlike other Gamblin painting mediums, which increase the flow and gloss of oil colors to varying degrees, Cold Wax Medium makes oil colors thicker and more matte.

Cold Wax Painting Techniques

Cold Wax Medium is a dense paste, it is excellent in creating a variety of textures within a painting. It has a “short” characteristic and gives a clean break off of the brush or knife, retaining the sharp peaks of impasto. These working properties allow for expressive brushmarks and the ability to carve into paint layers with palette knives. Cold Wax Medium also gives oil colors a beautiful translucent quality, similar to the seductive surfaces of encaustic paintings.

Cold Wax Painting utilizes experimental approaches, including the use of brayers, stencils, and textural elements such as bubble wrap or wire screens. The possibilities are endless!

From the artists who wrote the book on Cold Wax Medium, Jerry McLaughlin & Rebecca Crowell demonstrates some of their Cold Wax Painting techniques in the video below. 

Compatibility

Cold Wax Medium is compatible with oil colors, alkyd/oil colors, alkyd-based painting mediums, and Gamsol. Fast-drying mediums such as Galkyd and Galkyd Gel will increase the tack when mixed with Cold Wax Medium. Neo Megilp, Gamblin’s silky, soft gel medium, gives the wax a smoother feel and will round the peaks of impasto. These alkyd mediums will increase the gloss level of Cold Wax (just as adding Cold Wax lowers the gloss level of these mediums). Adding Gamsol to Cold Wax Medium will make it more fluid without adding gloss.

Cold Wax Artists

We’ve been fortunate to work with some wonderful artists who explore Cold Wax Painting techniques in their work. Whether these artists are working in representational or abstract modes of painting, they all utilize Cold Wax Medium for its unique working properties its effects on the resulting paint layers.

Since I first began using Cold Wax Medium 15 years ago, abstraction for me has become increasingly an expressive interaction with the materials. In mixing Cold Wax with oils, the body and the way paint can be layered, the enhanced drying time, and the transparency that it affords all lead to textures and visual depth that are the result of the process. Using Cold Wax helped me to move beyond conscious rendering of abstract ideas into a way of working that felt much deeper and more intuitive. Balancing the spontaneous aspects of my process with thoughtful editing and intention, the work has evolved into a true personal voice. —Rebecca Crowell

My painting process is centered on creating highly textured pieces by building many layers of oils colors, pigments, cold wax, and other amendments including cement, sand, soil, grit, and ash. —Jerry McLaughlin

I have been using Cold Wax and oil since the 80’s. I love how it extends the oil paint, the textural possibilities, and the way is sets up quickly to create layers. —Lisa Pressman

I fell in love with the rich luminosity of oil and cold wax in 2012 and have been using it ever since. I love how cold wax medium mixed with oil paint creates interesting surfaces and texture, allowing me to scrape, push, pull, and reveal previous layers. Sometimes it feels like I’m going on an archeological dig the way I am able to excavate and scratch into the layers, yet continually add more layers in an intricate dance to conceal and reveal. —Dayna Collins

Gamblin’s Alternatives to Titanium White

Alternatives to Titanium White

Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors makes more of their artist’s grade Titanium White than any other color… by far. For most painters, it’s the first white we use. And for some, the only white ever used. There are some good reasons for this. Gamblin Titanium White has a strong tinting strength and an unparalleled, beautiful texture. It’s terrific for direct painting techniques and for quickly lightening the value of other colors.

With that said, many painters could be better served at times by whites other than Titanium White. Swapping Titanium White for any number of alternatives can solve problems and create meaningful, new artistic possibilities. Let’s explore a few. 

Pure White  
Whether the painting in question is abstract, representational, a bit of both or somewhere in between, there are situations where the use of straight, pure white is called for.  For these situations, we recommend Radiant White, our brightest white. Radiant White has a high content of titanium dioxide pigment and is bound in safflower oil, yielding a bright white that has a neutral temperature. Our testing indicates that safflower whites hold their colors best over time. 

Tempering Tinting Strength
No white pounds color down like Titanium White. It’s high tint strength can overwhelm colors, making them appear chalky in tints. A number of our other whites contain less titanium dioxide, which means a lower tint strength, and in turn more saturated color mixtures as well as more subtlety and control in color mixing.

If you find Titanium White a bit too strong in mixtures, we’d suggest trying our Titanium Zinc White. We designed it to be the perfect, all-around mixing white and to have the perfect texture to support the work of painting. 

Flake White Replacement combines a lower tinting strength with a dense, ropey texture. Even stiffer than Titanium White, but less powerful in mixtures. Titanium White in our 1980 line is a valuable alternative when an even lower tint strength is desired. Titanium Zinc White and 1980 Titanium White are both bound in safflower oil. 

The swatches below show Titanium White, Titanium Zinc White,and Titanium White 1980 mixed 5:1 with Quinacridone Red.

For comparison sake, we prepared the same mixtures, but reversed the ratios – 1:5 white into Quinacridone Red:

How about matching the color of your white to the color of your light? 

Gamblin Warm White and Cool White are designed for painters who want to factor the color of the light into their color mixtures. The color of the light source influences all of the other colors in the painting’s subject matter. Using a white that matches the temperature of your light makes it much easier to create a consistent quality of light and color harmony throughout your painting.

Why not take this a bit further and use other high-value colors as your white? Below are a few examples.

Portland Grey Light

“Using Portland Grey Light as a white is great for tonal painting. It is slightly darker in value than pure white so the value range is limited on the light end. But what is most exciting to me is its effect on color. It creates lovely harmonious mixtures when added to the cadmium colors on my palette. The result is beautiful half tones that are not as chalky as they would be if white were used. These harmonious, greyed-down tones sit beautifully together on the canvas as a result of them each having a common ingredient…Portland Grey Light.”
– Eric Jacobsen
jacobsenfineart.com

Eric Jacobsen, Backyard, oil, 8” x 16”

Titanium Buff 

In our discussion of colored greys, we consider Titanium Buff to be a yellow-grey. When used as a white, it simultaneously mutes and warms colors and results in a subtle harmony.

“On an Alaska fishing trip in early July, I shot a photo as first morning light permeated the distant misty landscape and played across the ocean surface with a warmth that belied the cold morning. To capture this unique atmosphere back in the studio, I set aside my usual Titanium White for tinting and switched to Warm White and Titanium BuffWarm White was used in a limited fashion for my lightest values and highlights, while Titanium Buff was used in nearly all color mixtures. As a muted tinting color, Titanium Buff unified and subdued my color palette helping to better capture the scene.”
– Dave Bernard
Gamblin Product Specialist

Dave Bernard, Sitka Morning, oil, 12” x 16”

Portland Warm & Cool Greys

“I found my paintings became chalky and dense due to the overuse of Titanium White. So, I set that tube a bit out of reach on my palette and now use Portland Warm Grey or Portland Cool Grey when I am looking for the “right white.” There is very little real white in the natural world and these soft grey tones have proven to be a good option on their own or as a basis for mixing other colors.”- Kris Ekstrand
www.krisekstrand.com

Kris EkstrandLine of Passage, oil on canvas, 60″ x 48″

Introducing Natalia Ushakova, Watercolor Artist

We are delighted to introduce DANIEL SMITH Watercolor Artist, Natalia Ushakova! Natalia will take us step-by-step through her process for making a watercolor portrait. All Daniel Smith WatercolorsSets, and Grounds are on sale for 40% off during Plein Airpril – so now is a great time to test out some colors, treat yourself to that set you’ve been eyeing, and/or experiment with new techniques!

All my studio works are based on sketches, which I do while travelling the world. For example, in 2017 I participated in the IWS Portugal. At the gala dinner, we listened to a woman singing traditional Portuguese Fado chants. Despite not knowing a single word of Portuguese, I quite accurately understood, Cristina was singing about an unanswered love. Her performance was very artistic and emotional.  She poured her soul out, and one could understand the song without translation. I could not take my eyes off her, and kept drawing sketches. Later on, I came up with an idea to make a watercolour series on Portugal – and of course the music and musicians had to be the first topic. It is a series in progress, and I have many new ideas.

Step 1. Portuguese musician and singer pencil sketches (collaged).

Step 1. Here are some sketches made while listening to the Portuguese musicians and singers that I used for my watercolours.

Step 2. Preliminary pencil sketch.

Step 2. A preliminary sketch in pencil on 140lb. watercolor paper.

Step 3. Adding light and transparent tones.

Step 3. First, I used a large brush to add light and transparent tones while painting the faces and light in the window. For this, I used Naples Yellow, Hansa Yellow Light, Cadmium Red Scarlet Hue, Burnt Sienna Light and a bit of Wisteria.

Step 4. Filling the entire sheet of paper with the middle tones.

Step 4. Using the same brush, I filled the entire sheet of paper with the middle tones, leaving a blank area for the details of the magnificent scarf.  Tip, mix Neutral Tint with some colours with you already used in your painting like I did with Cerulean Blue, Chromium to add some coolness, and Burnt Sienna Light to add some warmth to the background.

Step 5. Adding more mid-tones to the face and the scarf.

Step 5. Add more mid-tones to the face and the scarf.  I added Cerulean Blue, Chromium for the eye shadow and for the scarf, I mostly painted with Naples Yellow and Hansa Yellow Light.

Step 6. Painting the darkest, dominant tone of the entire piece – the velvet dress.

Step 6. Setting the darkest, dominant tone of the entire piece – the velvet dress. Tip. I prefer mixing Perylene Violet and Perylene Green to make rich, deep, dark colors instead of using black paint straight from the tube.

Step 7. Enhancing the faces and hands of the singer and guitar player.

Step 7. Enhancing the faces and hands of the singer and guitar player with a thinner brush, for those details, I used Burnt Sienna Light andCadmium Red Scarlet Hue.

Step 8. Adding some red on her lips and manicure.

Step 8. Adding some red on her lips and manicure with a fine brush using Cadmium Red Scarlet Hue.

Step 9. “The Portuguese Fado Singer” 46×61 cm watercolor painting by Natalia Ushakova

Step 9. To finish the work, when my paper is nearly dry, I enhance the details: faces and hands, and special features, such as the huge turquoise stone ring which I painted with Cobalt Teal  Blue. Deciding that I did not like the red nails, I washed off the color so that it would not divert attention away from the ring.

“The Portuguese Fado Singer” in Natalia Ushakova’s studio with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors

The entire work was done with DANIEL SMITH Watercolours:

List of DANIEL SMITH paints on my palette.

Natalia Ushakova's painting palette with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors
Natalia Ushakova’s painting palette with DANIEL SMITH Watercolors
  • Buff Titanium
  • Naples Yellow – The Portuguese Fado Singer
  • Hansa Yellow Light – The Portuguese Fado Singer
  • New Gamboge
  • Pyrrol Scarlet
  • Cadmium Red Scarlet Hue – The Portuguese Fado Singer
  • Quinacridone Red
  • Quinacridone Lilac
  • Perylene Maroon
  • Perylene Violet – The Portuguese Fado Singer 
  • Cobalt Blue Violet
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Cobalt Teal Blue – The Portuguese Fado Singer
  • Cerulean Blue, Chromium – The Portuguese Fado Singer
  • Prussian Blue
  • Prussian Green
  • Perylene Green – The Portuguese Fado Singer
  • Mars Yellow
  • Burnt Sienna Light – The Portuguese Fado Singer 
  • Raw Umber
  • Burnt Umber
  • Payne’s Blue Grey
  • Neutral Tint – The Portuguese Fado Singer

I first discovered DANIEL SMITH watercolours accidentally by surfing on the internet.  When I found the web site, I couldn’t take my eyes off the pages displaying the magnificent range of colours, I wished to buy them all!  With great difficulty, I chose my main colors. Thanks to my brother-in-law who lives in America, I got my first paint tubes and fell in love with them for their quality, brightness, purity and sophisticated hues.

I especially like the range of Perylene colours from Maroon to Green because of their qualities, they blend well and complement each other, creating rich, deep black tones.  DANIEL SMITH constantly expands its range of paints encouraging artists to make new discoveries and experiments in creativity.

I love watercolour sketching and I’m so glad to know that DANIEL SMITH has released a new product line as if specially for me!  The new Hand Poured Watercolor Half Pan Sets, which include some empty half pans that can be filled with your favourite colours, and taken with you on a trip. I can’t wait for a new journey to try them out!

My main media is watercolour, I like it for the freedom of expression and unpredictability. Also, I work in other graphic media like drawing, sketching and various hand printing techniques.  I like to travel and a large number of my paintings and sketches are done in plein air. Those sketches are later used to create large-scale works, which I often expand with my imagination. I take part in many international art festivals and exhibitions, and combine my creative work with teaching art to kids.

Photo of Artist Natalia Ushakova

Natalia Ushakova received a master of art at the Moscow State Pedagogical University Fine Art.

Member of the International Watercolour Federation since 1998, and Member of the International Federation of Artists & National Artist’s Union of Russia Department graphic section since 2001. Natalia has been exhibiting her work since 1999 and in 2006, began taking part in International Art Fairs, Exhibitions, Competitions and Biennales world wide. In 2016, she was awarded the DANIEL SMITH Prize at the International Watercolour Exhibition at Fabriano (Italy), the watercolor was displayed at the International Watercolor Museum. At Fabriano in 2018,  she demonstrated a double kids portrait in Museum of town Genga.

Since 2002, she has been the owner and art director of Art Trophy Gallery, and lives in Moscow, Russia.