Mixing grays in watercolor

I love mixed grays. I know it’s easier to just use something like a Neutral Tint, but mixed grays are richer, since they show undertones of the pigments used to create them. Neutral Tint is exactly that… neutral. So if you want to liven up your sketches, spend a few more minutes and mix those grays!

Gray results when the three primary colors, red, yellow and blue, are combined. And, if you mix a primary, let’s say blue, with a secondary, orange, gray comes out as well. This happens because orange has both red and yellow, thus when combined with blue, it results as gray. The most common version of this mixed gray is created with Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna. You have probably seen this a thousand times.

Another favorite of mine is actually created by mixing green and red. I have had in my palette a color that I initially hated, Viridian Green. It feels even a little radioactive, stains everything and it seems to contaminate yellows by osmosis… However, I love it when mixed with a red, like a Permanent Alizarin Crimson. Beautiful.

I like the colors to show through, so I won’t mix it up completely in the palette. I want to avoid the gray to look flat. To me, part of the charm of watercolors is seeing the pigments come together on the paper.

You can achieve an infinity of grays by just mixing different pigments, some will be bluish, some reddish, some greenish, some purplish. Play around with variations of gray; which are your favorites?

Nostalgic of Puerto Rico

I have been missing my homeland. I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico but moved to the states five years ago. I don’t regret the move at all, as I’ve met fantastic people and lots of doors have opened. But I miss my hometown –the warmth of the people, the smell of the ocean, the taste of the food, the sound of the coquís.

Today I dug out some previous sketches I had done in Old San Juan, where I used to work and sketched regularly. These sketches were done April 16, 2011, coincidentally the date for Sketchcrawl #31. I had finished teaching a class with my Industrial Design students and decided to sketch the courtyard of the building that houses the School of Fine Arts, Hospital de la Concepción. Some of my students joined me and we had a great time. For these I used a PaperMate flair and Copic markers on a multimedia sketchbook.

Today I really miss Puerto Rico… my family, my friends, my students, my homeland. I hope to visit soon and be able to sketch again the bright blue skies and the incomparable green foliage.

If you like these sketches and want to support my art, prints are available on my Etsy Store.

#tbt, #throwbackthursday, #nostalgia