Workshop 17


You never know where accidents will take you. Recently some Cobalt Teal pigment leaked all over my palette, and the next time I went out to sketch I was determined to use it up. It made its way into all my sketches for quite a long time, and in the process it led me down a new path with colour. Most of us tend to always dip into the same wells: green for trees, blues for sky. But what if the sky is yellow? Or the trees purple? The idea for this workshop is to open participants’ minds: to give them fresh ideas and options for using vibrant and luminous combinations of colours, as we explore two and three-colour combinations of pigments.


In this workshop participants will explore new ways of working with colour through limited palettes: brights, neutrals and opaques. We’ll see how painting the same scene in different ways changes our perception of the place. Students will be encouraged to move out of their comfort zones and explore new colour combinations.

In this workshop we’ll look at:

  • Exploring new triads of colour, both bright and muted
  • Creating a centre of interest through use of pure colour
  • Creating unity in our sketches by limiting our colours
  • Retaining luminosity and keeping colours fresh
  • Defining value relationships and creating lively darks through a wet-in-wet approach and modifying viscosity of paint


  • Good quality watercolours, either in tubes or fresh pans: hansa yellow, new gamboge, yellow ochre, cadmium red, permanent alizarin crimson, quinacridone rose, burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, prussian blue, phthalo green. 
  • Portable watercolour palette
  • Watercolour sketchbook (Moleskine or other) or loose sheets of watercolour paper on a backing board
  • Small plastic water bottles
  • Brushes: medium size round (size 8-10), small round for details (size 3)
  • Pencil, pen for drawing
  • Bulldog clips, kneaded rubber eraser, paper towels
  • Small folding stool

1 thought on “Workshop 17

  1. Pingback: Limited palettes, for today and for Chicago | The Sketchbook

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