Vibrant colors

As I mentioned earlier (, I’ve been reading quite a few art related books recently and a book by Jean Haines inspired me to try more loose painting and taught a lot on e.g. color (and water) use, how to blend colors beautifully and keep vibrant colors.

The book I read is: Jean Haines’ Atmospheric Watercolours: Painting with Expression, Freedom and Style (amazon affiliate link (UK) / amazon affiliate link (DE)).

Haines uses very saturated colors and effortlessly swirls the colors and water around to create beautiful mixes of colors on the paper. It was nice to read and try for a change something entirely different than what my own approach has been.

Vibrant colors are bright and striking, of high chroma (saturated) and in this post, I will be using these highly saturated colors and avoiding overworking to prevent washes of muddy colors. Vibrant colors could be also enhanced by use of less intense, dull colors along with the vibrant colors, but not today 😀

Haines has used, per the book, watercolor tubes by Winsor & Newton, Schmincke and Daniel Smith. In her digital videos she used Daniel Smith tube colors. I have St Petersburg White Nights pans and tubes of watercolors.

The ready made 12pcs set had good collection of basic colors with cool and warm options: Lemon (T ***), Cadmium Yellow Medium (O ***), Carmine (T **), Golden Deep (T ***), Cadmium Red Light (O ***), Ceruleum Blue (ST ***), Ultramarine (ST ***), Emerald Green (T ***), Green (T **), Raw Sienna (ST ***), Sepia (ST ***) and Lamp Black (ST ***)
T = transparent, ST = semi-transparent, O = opaque, ** = medium lightfastness, *** high lightfastness

I bought these since they are quite inexpensive, yet should be a decent quality artist watercolor. I am quite interested in the Daniel Smith colors (are they superior and worth the hype in my head?), but I am also itching to get hands on honey-based M. Graham watercolor tubes. Don’t know if the honey really matters, but the itch is real! 😀

But back to reality. On recent work trip I used my hotel time for reading and painting. So, I made a few new additional loose painting and vibrant color experiments. This time I took along only my tube colors and for the first time made a few experiments with those:

(paper: Tombow Aquarelle paper 300g (24x32cm))

So, what happened. I had pigment a bit too thickly on paper in some places as I was not that familiar on the tube paint usage. I did not mix the colors with water in advance but instead let them merge on paper, so I got too thick pigment straight on paper and did not get it running with water well enough without slight scrubbing. Aaand.. in addition dual wielding two colors in brush, did not really work for me, yet 😀 but I did still manage to keep the colors quite ok, even though had to overwork some areas (thanks to the color choices I just created other nice, if slightly dull, hues). I was trying not to end up with muddy or too muted colors as I wanted to make the pieces quite vibrant overall.

The experiments I did were also on very small paper. Tubes may work better with bigger canvas where you need to use more pigment and water anyway. This time I also had to be a bit more careful with water use to prevent mess outside of paper.

I will use the tubes from time to time depending on what I paint, e.g. bigger paper or want more highly pigmented mixture. And you know what….I did order some days ago a few wacky Daniel Smith colors… (so expect more color fun!).

Also in my earlier work (which I have yet to document and post), I used mainly inks to get vibrant colors and used only (near) complementary colors side by side with a small grey area. So stay tuned for more details on that!


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