I am telling you just a little story, for a start… 😉
Sketching day! You are going to draw on location all day, your inspiration is awesome, the sun is shining, your fellow urban sketchers have great watercolor approaches to share with you… It’s going to be a perfect day!
But, suddenly, horror! You realize that the pan of one of your favorite color is almost empty! Damn!
Are you going to let that bad news ruin your sketching session?!
Of course, not!
And, wait, what if a empty watercolor pan could, at last, be an advantage, and even a good idea?! 😀
Indeed, I am pretty sure that missing one or two of your usual colors can help you, can help us, to become more creative, to experiment with new colors mixes and to give new great atmospheres to our sketches (obviously, this is not valid if you work with a really limited number of colors. I started watercolor with 4 tubes so… 😉 ).
For example, when I made this tee shirt sketch (yeah! Everyday matters!! 😀 ), they were no more Phthalo Blue on my palette to paint my sky blue bedsheets (the background of the sketch). This made me try, for the first time, the mix of French Ultramarine Blue and a Phthalo Turquoise I bought a few weeks earlier for the Portuguese sea!
I realized, with this sketch, that this mix was way more interesting than a wash of pure Phthalo blue : the split between the Ultramarine granulation and the plain Turquoise, along with the intentional color variations are a real benefit!
Now, I am not sure I want to use the Phthalo blue anymore. 😉
Another day, there were many empty pans in my palette because I wanted to move some of the colors… So, my palette looked like that. Ouch!!
I don’t recommand to paint with such an empty palette but it was a fun challenge. 😉
That day, I had to paint without any green or yellow!!!… I finally used a bit of Transparent Red Oxyde (it’s a sort of Burnt Sienna hue, a rusty color) to break the turquoise blue and create greenish shades in the quick sketch, below.
I admit it was rather tricky to paint with this limited palette, but fun! The atmosphere of the sketch is special, less bright than I am used to (no lime green for the grass!), but I like it.
This idea of stepping outside of our confort zone, because of some missing colors, to try new mixes, makes me think of Shari Blaukopf adventure – no, not the one with her suitcase ! – when a blob of Cobalt Teal had leaked on all over her palette.
This misfortune forced her to use this color more and, that way, to discover new mixes! And she finally liked the new triads she created using the Cobalt teal. 😀 You can see some of her sketches using this Cobalt teal here, here and here.
That’s funny to notice that, finally, an imposed color or a missing one can have the same benefit!
It helps us to become more creative with our colors choices and mixes and it pushes us to try new things.
So, emptying, from time to time, one or two pans of your colors has several advantages.
– The starting point of this move is not to allow some pigments to dry on your palette for too long.
Clear it out from time to time, rather than just adding more paint!
That’s nice to get a new start with only fresh paint.
– As we said, this will give you some new ideas for color mixing and choices.
You know, we tend to always use the same colors, our beloved favorites…
When they are missing, we have to use something else, for a change!
That’s good to step out of our confort zone, sometimes! 😉
– This approach can help you, too, to empty the pans of the colors you don’t use really often. 😉 When some of your favorites are missing, you tend to use more your out of favor colors!
And, if one pan really seems impossible to clear out, it may mean that you, maybe, don’t need this color at all. Good to know! 😉
One last “missing color” sketch? 🙂 For this by night quick one, I had no blue dark color to use (no Ultramarine and I didn’t add the Indigo to my palette yet).
It made me realize that the Quinacridone Fuchsia that, I think, is too dull and too dark as a cool red, with that out of favor Phthalo blue 😉 could produce an amazingly strong color together!
By the way, did you noticed that I splattered water on the sky? 😉
I hope that this article will make you want to be more creative with your colors and will make you clean your palette pans, from time to time! 😆