La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

Decided to try a more limited palette for this doodlewash of La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur in the Montmartre neighborhood in Paris. I also wanted to try something at dusk rather than my typical midday sky. This started as another sketch for the #DrawingAugust challenge I’m trying on Twitter. It’s Day 13! Almost half way through! I’ve never sketched this much before, and it feels like I’m improving, but I’m too close to it to tell.

I was going to choose just 3 colors, Quinacridone Gold, Alazarin Red, & Cobalt Turquoise, but then ended up using a bit of Cobalt Blue for the shadows. The Cobalt Turquoise is a great color, but it’s a little too bright for a shadow blue. The biggest challenge on this piece happened right when I started. I wet the paper for the sky and apparently got it too wet as the ink at the far right of the basilica ran a little. Actually I think it was an issue with the paper, but on the first attempt to blot, the ink smeared a touch.

Technically, the pigs I posted previously were a limited palette as well, but there wasn’t much of a range of color in that one. I like the effect of a limited palette because everything feels a bit more harmonious. I often grab for colors ad hoc without really thinking too much and doing it this way makes the color scheme feel a little less random and more like it was carefully chosen. It wasn’t really. After I chose the initial colors I went back to my usual random mixing frenzy.

This is definitely something I’ll try again. Mixing colors is something I’m still trying to learn. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you choose colors for your palette, tips you have on mixing color, or anything at all really! Leave me a comment with your thoughts below!

UPDATE: Wait… WordPress told me this was my 100th post! To celebrate, I’m buying you all a drink. But since that’s not feasible, you can simply buy yourself the drink of your choice, pretend it was from me, and toast to lovely doodlewashes everywhere!😉

Posted by:Charlie O'Shields (doodlewash)

Creator of Doodlewash® and founder of World Watercolor Month™ (July) and World Watercolor Group™. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world!

14 replies on “La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur

  1. Limited palettes are great and, as you say, pretty much ensure colour harmony. I’ve spent years trying to find the “perfect” limited palette, but keep changing my mind, and I think I’m just starting to wake up to the fact there’s no such thing!
    As for portraits – do you know about Sktchy? It’s an app on iOS (not sure about other platforms) – a little bit like Instagram, except people post pictures, mostly of themselves, in the hope that you’ll draw them. When someone posts a drawing, it links back to the reference photo. It’s an awesome way of seeing a huge number of portrait techniques and a great source of inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah…I don’t think there’s a perfect palette…and it’s more fun to try them all! Hehe I actually just saw a blog post about Sktchy and was going to check it out. Looks super interesting! I haven’t drawn a portrait yet so figured it would be a fun challenge! 😉


  2. Thank you for going into specifics about the colors used. Very helpful. I am sometimes uncertain about which combination of colors will provide the best shadows. Trial and error for me.


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