Corner of William and Ottawa

In my studio I have a big collection of books on watercolour — some new and some quite old. When I go into a used bookstore I head straight to the section on art instruction, and I often discover out-of-print treasures. There’s always something to be learned from reading about how other watercolour painters work. In particular I like reading about their colour palettes. I guess we all do. As if finding out what pigments people use will unlock the key to creating better paintings.

This week I’m reading Michael Reardon’sWatercolor Techniques: Painting Light and Color in Landscapes and Cityscapes”. A few years ago I saw his award-winning painting “The Domes of San Marco” at the AWS show in New York and I’ve been following his work ever since.

The book is excellent. Full of step-by-step paintings, concisely written explanations, and detailed examples to illustrate his process. Well worth the read. He uses some pigments that I have but don’t use too often, like Cadmium Orange and Carmine, and others that I’ve never tried, like Quinacridone Burnt Scarlet and Burnt Orange. When you are used to reaching for the same colours again and again, it’s fun to be surprised by some new combos, so I gave them a try when I painted this Griffintown scene. I particularly loved the purples that I mixed from Cobalt Blue and Burnt Scarlet, which is a rich red-brown colour. Great for wet Montreal streets in winter.

15 Comments on “Corner of William and Ottawa”

  1. Kirk says:

    I like the light in today’s sketch. Happy a valentines Day!


  2. Nancy says:

    Love the reflections in the puddles, and the muted purple for shadows. Yes, I like quin burnt scarlet, too. I think it is called permanent alizarin crimson in the Sennlier line of watercolors, but quin burnt scarlet in Daniel Smith. I really like carmine, too.


  3. Denise says:

    You’re right, that is a fabulous “purple” for the wet look! Thank you for the tip!


  4. Ghislaine Gargaro says:

    Funny that you mentioned Reardon’s book. I have been looking at it and practicing my watercolor colors. I got frustrated and today when back to Oil. Suddenly my oils became a joyful moment.


  5. Judy Sopher says:

    Gorgeous color! Striking painting! When I was in art school, I was told that yellows and purples together don’t produce good paintings. Absolutely wrong! I love the contrast. Want to try burnt scarlet.

    I often think one should forget the things taught in art school. They can affect your work forever if you don’t.(I will get off my soap box)


  6. Rene says:

    Me encanta tu trabajo. Te he seguido por años y he leído cuanto escribes. Tus sketches me incitan a pintar, me inspiran. Yo también pinto acuarelas desde muy joven. Felicidades


  7. munchmeister says:

    Superb. All respect to Mr. Reardon, but he’s got nothin’ on you, as they say. The graphic elements, the composition, the choice of subject, and the execution are, well, superb.


  8. TonyU says:

    Another Shari special! Love how the purples make the yellow sing … and those dabs of ‘Constable’ reds on the signs.


  9. Marion Hodges says:

    I know that corner! Been down there many times visiting family. And love, love, love the richness of the street colours. Going to add this to my Shari Notes!


  10. Miú says:

    Oh, the reflections on the puddles! Simply stunning!


  11. joantav says:

    What a wonderful urban scene!!! Sometimes it is fun to reach for a color you don’t normally use and make it work with your usual colors.


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