Some coloured triangles

Some coloured triangles: the latest stage in exploring triangles has been to add colour. I’ve used watercolour for the illustrations below of what I’ve been up to. I could have used gouache or acrylic, but actually, I really like the transparency and slight variations you get with watercolour. First, here’s a photo of my watercolour box:My watercolour box

I’ve been adding to this box for the last ten years or so. Often, when I visit an art materials shop, I come away with a pan or two in a different colour in the Winsor & Newton range. I discovered a long time ago that with watercolour it really is worth spending the extra money on artist quality materials. It doesn’t make much discernible difference with many media but artist quality watercolour is vastly superior in most colours to student quality. The problem is, of course, that it’s expensive, but watercolour pans last for ages and if you buy only one or two at a time over a long period you don’t notice the outlay so much. Having said that, there are some colours that I end up replacing more frequently, including Payne’s Grey and Davy’s Grey and pretty much anything in the yellow range. The yellowy/orange that’s almost used up there is the original version of Gamboge. Winsor & Newton have replaced this with something called ‘New Gamboge’. I don’t know what its constituent parts are but presumably it does not include gamboge which is the resin of the garcinia tree which is found mostly in Cambodia (gamboge is a version of the name Cambodia). I read about this in Victoria Finlay‘s book Colour: Travels through the Paintbox. She says that ‘Winsor & Newton have been receiving small parcels of gamboge from their South-East Asian suppliers since before anyone can remember and probably since the company started in the mid-nineteenth century’ (page 245). Sadly, not any longer. (Incidentally, I can recommend this book; very interesting and full of information and anecdote. The link above is to VF”s blog, which I’ve only just discovered). I love the original gamboge and was fortunate to find a little horde of the original W&N watercolour gamboge in a closing down sale in an art shop in Kendal a few years ago. I’ve still got a couple left, but then after that I’ll have to go for gamboge substitute.

Well, that was a unplanned and nerd-y digression. Sorry.

Back to the triangles. First of all, I drew some identical triangles on a sheet of watercolour paper, then had fun colouring them in using different shades of mostly yellow, but also some blue-ish and purplish greys. Have a look: Triangles on watercolour paper

Mixing the blue-ish greys and yellows together, not unnaturally, gives greenish shades. I thought these colours looked lovely together. The next stage was to cut them out using a steel ruler and craft knife. Then I spent quite a long time putting the triangles together in different ways. Here’s an example:Coloured triangles experiment

And another:Coloured triangles experiment

Eventually I stopped playing with them and stuck them down onto a page in my sketchbook.

This exercise was very absorbing and interesting, and I discovered, not for the first time, just how much variation you can get from mixing one predominant and one subsidiary colour. Brilliant.

I’ll keep on posting about the progress of this sketchbook but the next post had better be about Ditchling Museum which I visited last weekend. Please keep reading!