March panorama

I haven’t done an official count of sunny vs. cloudy days in February, but it certainly feels like the cloudy ones have outnumbered the sunny ones. When a few moments of sun coincided with a break I had between classes, I seized the moment to run upstairs at school and paint from my favourite picture window. Instead of my full palette, I had a travel box of Van Gogh watercolours with me. These are student grade paints and I’m not that keen on them, but I do love the Cerulean Blue in this set. A little research into why I like this blue has uncovered that it’s actually a Phthalo Blue mixed with a little white (for pigment nerds it’s PB15/PW6), so it has the deep staining quality of a much more intense colour than the pastel Cerulean we usually think of (PB35 or 36).

If you are interested in learning more about the colours in your paint box there are two excellent sources I always refer to, and I often mention them on these pages. Australian artist Jane Blundell has an incredible passion for everything about colour in watercolour, so when I want to look at a painted sample of a colour I might want to purchase, I check out her info first. (Jane is also giving a workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Manchester this summer.) The other wealth of information comes from Bruce MacEvoy’s website approaches watercolour from a super scientific perspective. Click on the colour wheel and you’ll find out anything you want to know about paper, brushes, paints and colour theory. And be prepared to spend some serious time on both of these sites.


11 Comments on “March panorama”

  1. SusanA says:

    For all things color, these are my go-to sites as well. I love Jane’s ultimate mixing palette guidelines (under Tutorials and Resources on her Web site) and handprint’s complete palette page (click on the color wheel, then Palettes, then The Complete Palette). It’s great for learning which pigments correspond with the points around the color wheel.


  2. Shari, thank you so much! You’ve shed light on something that has been baffling me for ages. Presumably you are talking about the small white Van Gogh box we were given at the Barcelona Symposium? I too loved the Cerulean Blue in this palette but I’ve used it all up and have been trying to replace it. But I couldn’t understand why it was so different to the Cerulean of other brands. Now I know 🙂


    • Hi Judith,
      That is exactly it! That’s so funny. I still have the original sticker on the box (transparent with all the colour names) and it has the chemical formula on it. That is how I solved this mystery. I bet you can buy it anywhere they sell Van Gogh half pans. I would like to replace it as well and I wonder if the tubes have the same formulation. I hope to see you in Manchester!



  3. Beautiful, Shari straight out of advice form hawthorne about putting color blob next to color blob!


  4. joelle says:

    Very interesting Shari, I suppose this ceruleum doesn’t granulate ?


    • It doesn’t Joelle, but I love the intense colour that you can get, which never happens with the Cerulean I usually use. Have you ever tried this?


      • joelle says:

        No, I havent, but after your answer I tried phtalo blue GS+titanium white (W&N) and yes it is an interesting ceruleum which can be modulate.
        But I’m curious about the Van Gogh, a little tube… !
        Thank you


  5. wrightottawa says:

    Aside from the informative technical paint notes – todays painting is what I aspire to.

    I fully get your frustration about sun and crisp shadows, but on reflection, you have done some marvellous hazy and subdued winter moods these last two months Shari. I know because I have a few taped to the wall above my desk here in the salt mine.


    • John, it’s been that kind of winter, hasn’t it? I have become quite tired of the constant cold and ice, and I’m sure that comes through in my writing, so it makes me happy to read your comments. I hope you are well. I think you have had more snow than we have these past few weeks but you are probably out skiing and snowshoeing.


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