It’s been a while since I wrote my last blogpost. I have been so busy with making paint, working on new ideas, getting the webshop ready and trying to nail motherhood.
It is not easy I can tell you. But doing what I love, makes it more than worth the effort!
People that are following me on Instagram, might have seen that I have been working on an urban sketch palette.
I wanted to create a palette with my handmade watercolors that would be small, versatile and great for urban sketching. So I bought an empty palette that can (only) fit 12 half pans.
You can put a lot of thought into what would be the perfect colors for such a palette, and so I did. But only thinking about it is not enough. You need to put it to the test! So I made a palette for me and Jan and we took it on our camping trip.
“Babies and urban sketching are not a great match“
I was very ambitious. I had this romantic image of me sitting on a bench in the sun for hours, sketching and painting the cutest houses in The Ardennes. But then reality kicked in … babies don’t like waiting on you while you sit on a bench for hours in the sun painting.
On the contrary!! Unless they’re sleeping, they can be very impatient!
So I ended up taking pictures of buildings, instead of sketching them on the spot.
A few months back I talked to someone who urban sketches on a regular base. She was telling me how she likes to sketch outside and then finish the sketches she started in a café … with friends … and a good glass of wine. But, she said, the urban sketch police doesn’t always agree. Some people think it’s not urban sketching when you’re finishing your sketch at home (or in a café with a glass of wine).
So I talked a bit about it with the people in the Discord channel linked to my Patreon, and we decided to call this way of urban sketching “Urban Sketching by Proxy”.
Anyway … back to the palette.
I thought that a few bright primary colors would make a great start, so I picked Quinacridone Rose, Bismuth Yellow and Ultramarine Blue. When you have Ultramarine Blue in your palette, you also definitely need Burnt Sienna, because those two make some beautiful purple gray mixes that are great for shadows. I filled the rest of the palette with; Phthalo Green, Potter’s Pink, Indigo (well duhhh), Turquoise Blue, Raw Sienna, Green Umber, Burnt Umber and Venetian Red.
To be honest, I am still not sure if this is the ultimate urban sketch palette, and maybe there is no such thing as an ultimate urban sketch palette. I talked to a few people that change their palette depending on where they are going or depending on the season. And actually, that makes total sense!
The mix up!
I had my doubts about Potter’s Pink and Turquoise Blue in my palette, but my friend Coco said to me “I firmly believe that if they’re colors that you love you’ll definitely find a way to use them in what originally appears not possible. So yay for Turquoise Blue and yay for Potter’s Pink”.
I think she is right, you will find a way!
Turns out, I used Turquoise Blue a lot! Not only because I found a cute little house with muted turquoise old shutters, but also because Turquoise Blue makes a beautiful bright green with the Bismuth Yellow in the palette.
I decided Turquoise Blue would be my primary blue instead of Ultramarine Blue. Although I wouldn’t want to miss an ultramarine in my palette.
But I am making a few little primary palettes for an art market I’m participating in this September and I chose Turquoise Blue instead of Ultramarine Blue as the primary blue.
The other side of turquoise is that it tends to split in the mix with other colors. You can make gorgeous mixes with turquoise if you like your colors to split. I think Turquoise Blue and Burnt Umber make a gorgeous mix.
If you don’t like it when colors split, you might want to chose another blue.
In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I liked it for this kind of painting, but now I really like it, even for urban sketching.
I was also pleasantly surprised by Potter’s pink, it mixes beautifully with colors like Venetian Red, Green Umber, Raw Sienna, Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine. Of course, this all is a matter of taste.
There was one color that I left out but I think would also make good addition to an urban sketch palette: Gold Ochre. I was doubting between Raw Sienna and Gold Ochre, but went for Raw Sienna because it is a bit less bright. But I have to admit Gold Ochre would’ve been great too. You can see some Gold Ochre mixes in the second bottom row. Mixing Gold Ochre with Turquoise Blue is also lovely!
I had fun with sketching by proxy, but I wish I could have done a bit more.
Don’t bring your baby when you’re planning on urban sketching unless you have some proper entertainment for the little one.
In conclusion; I don’t think there is one ultimate urban sketch palette. When putting together a palette for urban sketching a few factors come into play such as where you are going to sketch, what is the season and last but definitely not least your own taste. My advice would be to rethink your palette for each trip you’re making, you’ll see that some colors are keepers and other ones depend on the setting.