Testing Viviva ColorsheetsPosted: May 6, 2017
Last week a friend gave me a few sets of Viviva Colorsheets to try. If you haven’t seen these posted yet by sketchers on Facebook or Instagram, have a look at the crowdfunding site where they are advertised. They’re pretty cool. These are small booklets each containing sixteen highly pigmented squares that you wet with a brush to release the intensely bright colours. The idea behind them is portability — throw them in your bag or pocket and go. It’s a bit hard to tell what they colours look like from the swatches — Peacock Blue and Viridian both look purplish in their dry state so I thought I’d make a swatch sheet and see what turned up.
It was interesting to see the results and here are a few observations. First of all, don’t go by the names of the colours to judge them. For example, “Flesh” is a warm, yellowish orange. Even diluted quite a bit it is nowhere close to a flesh colour. Secondly, several of the colours are quite similar — compare Crimson and Deep Pink, or Light Green and Sap Green. Thirdly, when you start to paint with these you realize that they are more like dyes than watercolours. Using them make me think of my days in Illustration class in university when we used Dr. Martin’s inks. The colours are amazingly beautiful and intense but because this is pure pigment, don’t expect any granulation. The only thing I noticed was that the Gold Ochre and Magenta are a little sparkly.
After creating the swatches, I thought I’d go on a little trip to see how these reacted in the field. I found a magnolia that was just starting to open, so I pencilled that into my sketchbook and started to paint. I think these pigments are meant to be used with a water brush, but I don’t use that so I brought along water and a travel brush. The first challenge that I found with these was that there is no mixing area, so if I wanted a lighter version of one of the colours, I had to dilute it on a separate sheet. The second problem was that if I wanted to combine colours — for example the burnt sienna and the blue — I couldn’t do that either. I suppose if you are painting a large area you can do that on the paper but I was trying to paint the fine branches. The third thing I noticed was that touching a dry colour with water caused it to bleed into a neighbouring area, like the green that bled into the sky at the top left corner.
In my sketchbook I also had a drawing from earlier in the week that had ink lines but no colour on it and I thought it might be fun to add colour to that. As you can see below, the colours are very bright and intense but it was hard for me to obtain any neutrals or anything nearing subtle.
So moving forward, how would I use these? I won’t give up my daily travel palette, but I think they would be a great ADDITION to my sketch kit. For example, if I am drawing a colourful market scene or a flower garden, I could certainly see using these colours as accents. There is nothing in my regular palette that can match the intensity of these pigments.
And because I couldn’t come back home with a sketch I wasn’t happy with, I had to paint the magnolias again with my regular palette of colours.