[Sample project] Deep-dive into color mixing with gouache :)

[Sample project] Deep-dive into color mixing with gouache :) - student project

Hey everyone! I built this class in two parts with the technical part first and the creative part second, but for the project, I thought it would be more fun to share them 'together' in a sense — so you can get a sense of how the principles you're learning in the first part can be applied to the creative prompts in the second part. 

So first off, collecting grays!! :D 

And now the creative color collecting exercise, with the prompt Strand.  I really enjoyed making this and am happy with the result! This is one of those pieces that I started on one day, then let rest, then came back to on a different day to keep working on it/building/transforming it. Who said you had to create a piece in a single sitting?? :p 


Collecting Tints & Shades

1. Collecting reds

And the creative color collecting exercise, with the prompt Inner garden. This was fun to make! I'm not totally satisfied with how it turned out, but there are a few ideas here and there that I thought were fun, and most of all I really enjoyed playing around with these beautiful coral red tints. Definitely a color palette I'd like to keep exploring! 

2. Collecting yellows

Here's the abstract color collecting exercise (black white 1 color) with the prompt Light. This was was made very quickly, with bold painterly strokes, and I'm happy with how it turned out! Sometimes it's not the amount of time that you spend on a piece that determines whether you like it or not, but rather the quality of your 'presence' while you're doing it. :)

3. Collecting blues

Here's the 'tale of two tones', using blue yellow black white, and the prompt Chasm. This is one of the pieces of my color collecting experiments that I like the most! I actually started it on one day, wasn't totally satisfied with it and then transformed it on a second day, obtaining a result I'm happy with. In particular, I like the contrast between the painterly strokes in the background and rock/egg, and the more precise edges of the  trees, the 'lines' arching around the rock and the drippy plant-like textures. I was also really happy with the range of tints, shades and tones I explored here, and particularly like the contrast between the bold pure strokes of ultramarine blue, and the more muted color mixes of the rest of the painting. Of course, not all of your color collecting experiments are going to be 'finished pieces', but you should celebrate when there's a piece you particularly like, and try to identify what in particular you like about it! :) 


Collecting color wheels

The warm-cool exercise:

And the creative prompt Threshold using only a few colors. I had a lot of fun making this but think this will stay an 'experiment'. One thing I do like is the overall shape of the piece, which could be an indication that I could come back to it and keep transforming it/adding to it, in order to turn it into something I'd like more! The color combination is fun though.

The creative prompt Elemental using many many colors! I really loved making all these different colors and am quite happy with this, though it's definitely still an experiment and not a finished piece. 


Collecting complementary grays  neutrals


The complementary grays with the creative prompt Rainbows in the Dark. As much as I love complementary grays, I feel pretty dissatisfied with BOTH of the paintings I made for the creative part of these explorations. And that's ok! :) These will stay experiments and that's totally fine. What I DID like is seeing and exploring the range of different colors I was able to make, and would love to create another piece exploring these color palettes in the future!

And complementary grays white, with the prompt Little By Little. Same thing as the previous one, I'm not really satisfied with this even though I had a lot of fun finding all the colors. I think one of the reasons I was dissatisfied with both of these is that I wasn't as 'present' when I made them, as when I made other color collecting experiments I liked better. As you'll see, the quality of your 'presence' while painting can really influence what you think about your paintings in the end because the energy you bring to a piece somehow gets transmitted onto the page. :)


Collecting Skin Tones

Here are my skin tone collections with the 'outer edges' of my pie slice :) If you vary the primary colors you use to create these, you'll get entirely different ranges of skin tones as well! This is something that I explored more in the creative exercises linked to skin tones. 

Here's the creative exercise Little Faces. I had a bunch of fun making these little egg-shaped faces with with hair though I DO feel like I put too many of them too close together. So if I did this exercise again, I would put a little bit more 'breathing space' between each one. :) Definitely not a finished piece, but a fun exploration. 

And here's Pattern Play! I had a lot of fun making this one, and I think it shows! I don't often make paintings that are very 'flat' and have patterns so this was a nice jump out of my comfort zone. Most of all I LOVE the beauty of skin tone colors, when you detach them from their initial 'goal' of being skin colors. Since they have all the primary colors within them, they have this beautiful depth and quality to them that you just can't find when only using two colors. And I love that!

Color proportion

The technical exercise that explains color proportion:

and the creative exploration with the prompt Leading In, where I used a colder color palette on the left, and a warmer color palette on the right. My overall feeling about these two is 'meh' in terms of the painting/design/idea, but the goal of this was really to explore what it would be like to use two different color palettes for the same design, so it's not a big deal! I really enjoy seeing the 'shift' in mood between the two versions of the same design. The one on the right in particular makes me think of some soft wizard of oz/magical world in terms of the color scheme. 


Inspiration part 1 - Beauty of Mud 

Now that we've finished all the technical exercises, all that's left is some creative fun where we're going to practice all the principles we learned previously! This is the exercise with muted colors, using the prompt Wholeness.

Here's the original piece I took inspiration from, "The Hunt",  beautifully made by Thomke Meyer. For all of these inspiration pieces, make sure you're clearly referencing who the artist is and attaching a link to their website/instagram/online presence. :) It's a way of honoring the work that they do! 

This is one of my favorite paintings of all the creative color collecting explorations I did! Not only was it so much fun creating a piece entirely with muted colors (no pure colors here!), but I also really enjoyed the challenge of creating something abstract with this muted palette, and having fun with adding many different textures. I took inspiration from some of the textures in the original piece I was looking at, though, again, it's very important to make sure you're staying true to yourself when you're taking inspiration from somewhere/someone and not simply copying/reproducing their work! (When you're a professional artist/illustrator, it's very frustrating & sad when people copy your work without your permission) I hope that switching from figurative to abstract and vice versa in these exercises will help you stay within your own 'voice' and keep honing in on YOUR style, because that's the most important. :) 
(on another small note, my finished piece kind of reminded me of Totoro from Miyazaki!)

In the words of the amazing Austin Kleon“If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research.”

Inspiration part 2 — Secret Places

Here's the original piece I took inspiration from, by Georgina Vinsun. I really liked the dreamy quality of this work and wanted to keep that 'energy' in my own piece. 

And here's my creative color collecting experiment inspired by this palette, with the prompt "Secret places". This is also one of my favorite pieces I made — in particular I enjoyed making the dreamy textures and introducing a story-like element into this figurative piece.  I like the non-realistic depiction and perspective of the mountain and lake, and think it adds to the dream-like quality of the piece. This is a color palette I don't often use (too much pink for my liking!! even though I love pink :p ) but I actually really enjoyed it!


Inspiration part 3 — Growth

Here's the piece I took inspiration from, The Parkway (1905) by Henri Manguin.

It surprises me to say this, but I like what I did with this piece! It's still more of an 'experiment' and a study, rather than a finished piece, but there's something I really like about the 'flow' of the piece, and in particular the different textures/colors/composition (I like the criss-cross pattern of the red lines on the bottom and the contrast with the big 'black' shapes (they're actually complementary grays! Really beautiful ones that I'd like to use more)). The color palette of this piece by Henri Manguin was a very surprising color palette to explore, especially with the mix of super bright pure pigments like that red and blue — not a familiar color palette for me and so I feel like I learned a lot. 

Inspiration part 4 — Time

I really wanted to jump out of my comfort zone with this one so chose a palette I really didn't 'vibe' with initially (though the original piece I took inspiration from is still very lovely!). The piece I chose was Late Night Stormglow 2 by Jenny Prinn

In the end, I have very mixed feelings about this piece. I wouldn't say that I suddenly 'vibed' with the color palette (in my own work), but there are a few things I really enjoyed with this one. I liked creating a pinkish background and then covering it with white to have the pink 'shine through' here and there. That's a technique I don't often use so it was an interesting discovery. I also definitely liked this piece way more once I added the sort of 'japanese-art' elements like the black line and the silhouette of black leaves.  So all in all, not my favorite, but some fun discoveries.


Building a color palette around a color you hate

I had SO MUCH FUN with this exercise, and this is definitely a favorite of all my color collecting experiments! I don't really like how the colors came out in this photo and really prefer how they look in 'real' but all in all, this was a definite surprise. I also totally jumped out of my comfort zone in terms of the 'style' of the painting, but had a blast doing it! It felt very inspired by Art Nouveau (the movement from the 1920s) with their design-y graphic shapes and bold colors. 
And of course, it was super fun to end up creating a painting I liked while starting out with a color I didn't like. :) The ochre green almost becomes 'gold' next to that ultramarine blue! 


Love all around

I tried to take a good picture of this but it's very difficult to see the real color! It's a dark/blackish-purple. Really fun and also like how it 'vibes' with the painting next to it :) 


Translating sound into color

This is something I do very regularly in my own practice so I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I'm not blown away by the result but have to say I really liked exploring this color palette and there are some elements in the painting that I like - in particular the contrast between the geometric shapes and organic shapes. I definitely want to work with these colors more! 


I've also created a few additional paintings (the 'last 5' that I talk about right at the end) but haven't yet had a chance to take pictures of them so I'll show them to you as soon as I do that!

I really hope you enjoyed the class and most of all that you've made a TON of paintings — and seeing that they can be a mix of paintings you like, hate, and love, and what to LEARN from the ones that you don't like! (and the ones you do!) 

Keep on working on your artistic journey, keep on striving, and playing and learning. I wish you all the best! Oh and of course if you have any questions whatsoever, please feel free to ask them in the 'community' section of this class! :)



Let's be friends on Instagram 

Or on Patreon (where you can join me for live drawing sessions!)

Or on Youtube (where I share vlogs and other tidbits once in a while)

Or on Skillshare (to know when my next class is out!) 


If you're curious to see other classes I've made, they're over here:  

Abstract Watercolor Painting: Explore Through Freeform & Planned Process (a Staff Pick!)

Improve Your Ink Work: Brush Pen Adventures Through Lines & Textures (a Staff Pick!)

Fearless Art Jumpstart: A 14-Day Drawing Challenge to Unlock Your Creative Self

Drawing Plants & Leaves: Grow Your Unique Style Through a Visual Library 

Secrets, Tips & Tricks to Finding Your Voice as an Artist

Unleash Your Creativity: Draw Without Fear in 5 Simple Exercises

Byeeee! :) 


Artist, illustrator, HSP

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