Pure colour

As always with workshops the last day is always the best. That’s when all you’ve learned starts to come together.

On our final day with Tom Hoffmann on Lopez Island the goal was to challenge ourselves, to move out of our comfort zones. Pure colour is not in my comfort zone at all. I’m constantly mixing and blending to get the right hue. In fact, when I started painting in watercolour I had no tubes of green paint — greens were always mixed with yellow and blue pigments. So imagine the giant leap for me when I painted this field, and the test below it, with washes of pure colour. Azo green, sap green, carbazole violet, pyrrol orange, straight from the tube. Yikes! Wonderfully liberating and incredibly fun to try. And not uncomfortable at all.


For the test below, we mixed up a giant pool of the base colour (in this case azo green) and while that was still wet we added in the other colours. The trick with adding colours to the big wash is that you can’t dip your brush back in the water or you will get blooms or back runs. Each layer of paint should have a little less water and a little drier pigment on the brush. It took a few tries to get this right.


23 Comments on “Pure colour”

  1. Fiona Gibbon-Taillefer says:

    I thought this painting was so refreshing! I gasped when I saw it. So clean, so bright and cheery! Great work!

    Fiona Gibbon-Taillefer


  2. TonyU says:

    Wow Shari … what a beautiful ‘clean’ and deceptively simple looking painting. And amazing how my eye goes straight to that small complementary patch of red (pyrrol orange) on the way to the opening in the trees. You might have started out of your comfort zone but you sure got the hang of it quickly! Tony


    • Thanks Tony. Adding the pure colour to the wash was the biggest revelation to me. I have never used watercolour in quite this way but I will do it again. It was really very creamy pigment but since the wash was so wet it blended perfectly.


  3. SusanA says:

    Another beautiful painting, Shari! Thank you for sharing it and your process. I’m new to watercolor, and I’d like to try this.


  4. Fleet Woodley says:

    Very cool. I like when you go to workshops. I always learn something.



  5. Jane Hannah says:

    Hi Shari — wow! This is beautiful Shari. Now I am starting to think that I would love to follow a workshop with him too! I went on his website and it says that he gives one in Cape Cod that I might try to catch for next year… I love how he has steered you, but of course, you already have the talent to be steered in a beautiful way. Do you know if his workshops fill up quickly?


    • I think you would enjoy the workshop Jane. Tom is in Cape Cod right now but yes, maybe for next year. Our workshop group was small, I think nine people in all, but who knows about next year. Most of the people in this workshop were from Seattle except for me and someone from Hawaii.


  6. Elaine Archambault says:

    Your journey is so exciting and you are so generous in sharing it with us,
    Thank you


  7. Lovely color. I love how the foreground is an undulating space, the trees less defined, and the purple mountains a totally flat tone.


  8. Alison says:

    Very cool, great result. And as always, the underpinning of a great composition.


  9. Nathalie says:

    Wow! Such an amazing result. Thanks so much for having shared all these new experiences and challenges.


  10. Riku Karjalainen says:

    I was really curious to see the workshop results from this trip. I admire both your and Tom Hoffman’s works and wondered how your distinctive personal styles and techniques would come together. A very nice synthesis in this painting!


  11. kari says:

    Love that color–so bold and brilliant.


  12. Lee Kline says:

    Your trees are calligraphy, Shari.


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