19 October 2014

New Art - Autumn Leaf

This new art post is also going to be a review of a couple items that arrived in my first Pigment+Palette box earlier this month.  One is a sample palette of QoR watercolor paints by Golden Artist Colors and the other is a bonus item, a water brush, that the P+P folks kindly included as a welcome gift.

So I had my sample palette, which came with six color daubs and a little square of watercolor paper to experiment on, and my water brush, which I was already generally familiar with thanks to the travel watercolor kit my sister gave me for my birthday earlier this year, but I wasn't sure what to paint.  I didn't want to do something random.  I wanted my painting--even though it was just a way to test these new tools--to look like something when it was done.  How could I use all the colors on this palette without making the final result look gaudy or unharmonious?

Watercolor Sample Palette with Sketch on Paper and Water Brush
Sketch in place.  Water brush filled.  Ready to paint!
My answer actually came from the watercolors themselves.  To my eye, the blue and orange stood out the most.  I realized that the entire palette was nicely balanced with complimentary colors.  This inspired the idea of depicting a colorful autumn branch against a bright blue sky.  I sketched the scene with a mechanical pencil then got to work using the color.

I used only the water brush, the watercolor palette, and the square of watercolor paper for the majority of the painting.  I did use graphite for the sketch and at the end I tried a bit of table salt to give the sky a touch of organic texture, but I didn't use any other brushes or watercolors.  It was actually a bit difficult to use only the water brush; it's great for covering larger areas but there's not much control over how much water comes out.  This means it's difficult to paint fine lines or maintain a rich streak of color.  It's definitely a brush better for initial color blocking or plain ol' sketching.  This isn't to say I don't like the item--it's a handy tool that I'll definitely reach for again--it's just got a specific set of limitations that's important to keep in mind.  The only real negative I noticed was that a couple bristles came out while I was using it.  The head hasn't fallen apart yet but I feel it probably won't last as long as a standard brush.

Watercolor Sample Pallet with Water Brush and Finished Painting
Finished painting.  Used about ⅔ of the water in the brush.
As for the watercolors themselves, you can see that they produced a beautiful, vibrant painting.  It was great that the sample palette came with a well in the middle so I could mix colors.  I was able to create shadowy tints by mixing compliments.  But despite the excellent color laydown, I won't be purchasing these paints any time soon.  Aside from the fact that I already have a favorite brand, I just couldn't stand the paints' unpleasant odor.  At first I thought something in the room was stinking, like a hidden spill needed cleaning or the trash needed taken out, but I eventually realized the odor was emanating from the watercolors themselves.  Maybe this smell is common to most watercolor paints (add this to the reasons my favorite brand is my favorite brand: no unpleasant odor from Sakura Koi) but it's not something I'm willing to accept.  I can handle some byproduct scents from my art tools, but this wasn't one of them.

I feel this came out nicely for a test painting.  The salt didn't really do much other than make everything sparkly but the colors stand out well enough on their own and the water brush did an admirable job even with its limitations.  I might use these watercolor samples again, smell and all, when I test out the watercolor board and water-soluble graphite stick that also came in the Pigment+Palette box.  Until then, let me know what you think of my test painting!  Was it a good use of the colors at hand?  Did you get this P+P box?  If so, did it come with this watercolor sample set?  What's your favorite watercolor brand and why?