Great ideas are happening at Da Vinci Paint Company! I’m so thrilled to share with you an awesome project that I’ve been working on with Marcello there, to kick off an upcoming line of 8ml Da Vinci watercolor tubes (adding to the collection of 15ml and 37ml watercolor tubes). These little 8ml tubes are perfect for trying out some new colors at a great price!
So, we thought a fun way to introduce them would be to invite a trio of artists, (one of the three being me!) to choose their favorite three Da Vinci Watercolor tubes and create three new watercolor trio products (which I’m pleased to say are all available to purchase now! Read on to learn more about the project, the other artists, and my own “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio and mixes! We each receive a portion sales on our products so thanks for your support!).
We thought it would be fun if these artists could also share their great ideas about color mixes and painting, or as we like to call it when using Da Vinci paints – a #DaVinciMoment.
About Da Vinci Watercolor Trios
As many of you who’ve seen my watercolor illustrations in my blog posts know, I’m a huge fan of using a limited palette as well as painting with Da Vinci watercolors (if you’re visiting me for the first time today, hey there, welcome! Nice to meet you!) The idea behind this project was to have each artist select only three Da Vinci watercolor tubes to create their personal trios.
These aren’t necessarily triads, or colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel, but simply three colors that we each felt, when used in various combinations, produced some really lovely mixes. Each artist was given about 9 colors in those cute little 8ml tubes, and had to choose only three. This bit turned out to be tougher than I expected!
I’ve used duos and quattros, but getting to a mix of just three colors was actually a fun challenge. Next up, I’ll share more about our trio of artists, a little about myself if you’re new to Doodlewash, share the trio I personally chose along with some sample watercolor illustrations, and provide a mixing chart showing how I mix the colors.
(If you want to know a bit more about Da Vinci watercolor you can also check out Jessica Seacrest’s review here on Doodlewash.)
Our Trio of Artists
And now, presenting our trio of artists! Is it me or should there really be a way to add a drumroll to a blog post? Okay, so the first artist up is me and most of you who visit this blog often are used to reading my rambles and already know a lot about me. For those of you who are wondering who the heck this guy is, then I’ll take a quick moment to share a little bit about my myself, via this little interview each of the artists completed.
My name is Charlie O’Shields and I’m the creator of this very site, Doodlewash®, which is a global community of watercolor painters, illustrators and sketchers. I’ve featured over 440 artists painting and sketching on every continent (yep! Even Antarctica!) and host a community where artists who draw and use watercolor can post and share their work right here on this site. If you love watercolor painting and sketching, then please join us!
I’m also the founder of World Watercolor Group and World Watercolor Month in July – a 31 watercolors in 31 days challenge to raise awareness for arts education.
What do you like about Da Vinci watercolor?
Da Vinci watercolor is rich and vibrant and contains a rewetting agent makes it behave very similarly to honey-based paints, which I had used exclusively prior to discovering Da Vinci watercolor. And if I need to grab a color that I don’t already have waiting in my pans, they work beautifully straight out of the tube! I had the pleasure of visiting Da Vinci Paint Co. in California, U.S.A. and watching how the colors are created. The attention to detail and demand for quality is stunning. And at the end of the process, all of the colors are lovingly hand-poured. It’s a rare and wonderful thing to witness in this day and age of automation and I was immediately smitten with both the paints and the company.
Why do you paint?
Once I started sketching and painting each day, I quickly realized it was amazingly therapeutic and calming. After a long day at work, coming home to create a little watercolor illustration became something I not only looked forward to doing, but something that helped me transition my day and relax into my evening feeling refreshed. Okay, I admit, it also became a completely unstoppable habit. I recently just passed the mark of 1,000 days of consecutive watercolor painting and sketching.
What do you love to do besides painting?
I’m a big kid, so I also enjoy playing games on my phone as well as console games on Xbox and Playstation. I grew up during a period when arcade games were all the rage and I guess it just stuck with me. I also love Lego and creating things with those little colorful bricks. I have shelves full of Lego architecture sets mixed with random Star Wars memorabilia. When not playing with toys, I do also like to read lots of books, even the ones written for adults and without pictures.
Favorite Things Trio
- Dessert (really any kind)
- Funny childhood memories
- Getting lost in a good book
Bucket List Trio
- Publish an illustrated memoir
- Go on an African safari
- Learn how to speak French
Completing The Artist Trio
I’m happy to introduce my two lovely artist friends who agreed to be guinea pigs for this first outing of the project. I say that because I didn’t have all of the idea in place before just jumping in and going for it. Something that will not surprise my regular readers in the least.
I don’t like to set severe parameters as it allows the artists to help complete the idea. You can’t know where to build the sidewalks until you see the paths that people make. And they both forged a brilliant path indeed! So thank you Tonya and Jennifer for your patience and your wonderful ideas that made this project truly come to life! Check out their links below and read on to learn more about my Da Vinci watercolor trio and an overview of how I mix colors with wonderful paints.
Tonya Lee lives in the Appalachian Mountains with her family of four and one cat. She enjoys nature study, sketching, gardening, and limited interaction with city life, but she’ll happily fight traffic for a great restaurant, museum, or thrift store.
Jennifer McLean is a watercolor and mixed media artist and an avid reader, so you’ll always find either a book or a paintbrush in her hand.
Charlie’s “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio!
SO, what did I ultimately choose for my watercolor trio? Well, a little set of my three favorite Da Vinci watercolor tubes that I use to make shiny happy things, of course! For those who know me, they know I love painting shiny metal things and glassy objects. I think they’re a joy to paint, and particularly suited to the watercolor medium. I can barely paint a flower without jamming it into a glass vase, sneaking in my chance to paint something shiny!
There are many ways to paint glass and metallic surfaces, but as an illustrator, one of the tricks I personally enjoy to create an illusion of realism is to really push contrast. By this, I mean deep blacks next to nearly pure whites. This creates a “shiny” look that can be amped up to make something metallic or softened a bit to create the effect of glass. So, I present to you now the three Da Vinci Watercolor tubes in my “Shiny” Trio.
This is undoubtedly one of my favorite Da Vinci watercolor tubes. It’s a rich color when used with just a little water and dilutes to a lovely reddish and ruddy pale color that can be used to add a bit of random warmth to areas of my watercolor illustrations. I don’t often paint people, but have mixed it to create pleasing skin tones as well, with just a bit of Quinacridone Red or Opus (Vivid Pink) and a touch of Yellow Ochre. With a bit of Nickel Azo Yellow it can become a lovely, glowing orange.
Though I had previously used Ultramarine Blue, this little tube has become my number one go-to blue. It’s a deep and bright blue that can be used on its own to create shadows under objects or mixed with Terra Cotta to create a very balanced neutral gray. It can always provide the right tint to shadows in a snowy landscape, or more likely in my case, a dollop of whipped cream (be sure to always add a touch of yellow to whipped cream. Though paintings are always calorie-free, there’s a bit of fat there in reality and yellow helps add that bit of decadence).
This color is created with one of the two pigments used in Da Vinci’s Quinacridone Gold, which I also enjoy. The color looks incredibly dark and not yellow at all in the pan and dilutes with water to create an impossibly sunny and bright yellow. It’s rather magical, so I have to admit that this is also part of the allure. I can also use it in a low to nearly no-water fashion to create depth and a darker, browner edge when I want a bit more outline to an area of my watercolor illustrations.
My Mixes, Or Finding My Da Vinci Moment
Here’s a little color wheel showing mixes you can get from my “Shiny” trio. Note, that since this isn’t a triad, you won’t be able to get a red/purple from this mix. My core triad is Cobalt Blue, Nickel Azo Yellow, and Quinacridone Red, which creates a very beautiful and balanced primary palette of all transparent colors, but lacks the punch to create deep, dark grays or blacks. That’s where Terra Cotta comes in and saves the day!
As for swatches, I swear I started with traditional swatches, but I was growing frustrated with the process. I’ve never actually made swatches before and began to wonder why. Perhaps it was painting inside the box or mostly it was because the usual approach requires drying time. I have the patience of a 5-year old child and rarely ever let my paint dry completely in my quick daily paintings. I work in a circular fashion to let bits sort of dry while working on others.
So, something about the usual swatch method just didn’t feel like a fit for me. I tried a couple times and both were messy failures. I felt like I was losing my marbles. Hey, wait?! That’s it! I’ll make some marbles instead!
My Watercolor Marble Mixing Chart
So, I invented this little alternative doodlewash approach to traditional swatches. This is based on something I actually do often, when I want a lightening quick test of new colors and/or combinations. Which is pretty much all of the time, given my short attention span. I make a quick circular outline of the marble by using less water and getting a more saturated version of the color for the exterior of the marble.
Then, I rinse my brush and wet the center with water creating a rough approximation of a marble, leaving bits of highlights as dry paper. After that, I quickly add bits of color, letting the watercolor do what it likes and popping in a shadow at the end with a wetter wash of a diluted version of whatever color mix was left on my brush. I used only one color, then made some marbles adding two colors, and then some more adding bits all three colors.
In just a few seconds, this quickly shows me how the color granulates, how it mixes with other colors, how it can perform to create shadows, and even how well highlights stand out in various color combinations for my shiny things. The entire full chart you’ll find below took less than 10 minutes, about 20 seconds a marble, but to my brain, at least, shows me all I need to know about the colors and how they might work together.
I went back in to be a bit more helpful and organized them with a color key below, in case we don’t all share the same brain. The first little box is the color I started with for the outline (in a more saturated lower water form) and a general idea of the amount of the other colors present that I quickly dropped into the wet wash in the middle and then diluted to create the shadow. One note, if the center is too dark, I just push the wet color out of the way towards the edge which creates an even stronger outline of the marble and lets me see how the pigments interact together). It’s also a lot of fun! And I always feel like I learn a bit more when I’m just messing about like a kid.
Charlie’s “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio – Two Color Mixes
What I love most about these particular colors is the depth and range you can get from using only two of them at a time. Nickel Azo Yellow in particular is like getting a few colors in one if you play with the less diluted version of the paint. The marbles on the bottom left and far right look like they have more than two colors in them, but it’s mostly Nickel Azo Yellow with just a bit of Cobalt Blue. In the middle far right, you can see an example of the shiny orange that happens when just a bit of Terra Cotta is added instead.
Charlie’s “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio – Three Color Mixes
When you mix all three, the fun really begins as the saturation boosts even a bit more and interesting and often subtle interactions take place. The top far left marble’s shadow begins to resemble the sand on the beach, while the top far right’s shadows reminds me of a beach at sunset. The middle far right ended up looking like a Superman marble so I just let it be. It does show the nice pairing of warm and cool colors, but mostly I love it because it looks like it once belonged to Superman.
Charlie’s “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio – Neutral Mixes
For the neutrals in this particular trio, I often only use Terra Cotta And Cobalt Blue to mix light and lovely grays. All three will mix to a brown, which can be useful, but also loses some of the transparency so I stick with just these two colors. Then I use very low water mixes of them to get either a brownish or a bluish black.
This provides the high-contrast look you see in many of my glass and metal illustrations. And though I use a sepia ink pen in my work, I can use this mix to add a quick black outline for effect when I’d like something to pop forward more or have a greater sense of contrast (yep, just with the same regular round pointy brush I was already using, hence the wiggly line work).
The feathered highlights in the lower left on the plate? My friend the paper towel. Used to quickly blot, lift and dry the paint before it bleeds to create a hard edge.
Charlie’s “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio – Watercolor Marble Mixing Chart
Here’s the full chart of my marble mixes and neutrals so you can see how it all looks together. This is admittedly a rather unique way to swatch color, but I hope you’ll find it helpful. To me, it really shows what these colors can do together and the fun mixes you can create!
Painting Other Shiny Happy Things
These three lovely Da Vinci watercolor tubes aren’t just for glass and metal, of course, they can be used to paint lots of other shiny happy things as well, from puppies to sunflowers. The sunflower is an example of the greens you can get from this palette. I typically use Leaf Green to get a very bright spring green, but Cobalt Blue and Nickel Azo Yellow mix to create a lovely natural sunny green color.
I’m rather found of painting food, and I use Terra Cotta and Nickel Azo Yellow often to create the crust of pies and even for corn flakes with bananas on top as shown below.
Lastly, I’m a huge lover of animals, particularly dogs. Yep, you can even use only my “Shiny” Da Vinci Watercolor Trio to create furry friends as well, from puppies to continental bulldogs. The “blacks” you can create in this trio are also great for border collies as well in achieving both the bluish black and brownish black found in their fur.
Not many dogs are purple, so the lack of a true red in this palette makes it work, but if you would like a bit more purple or lovely bright red, simply add a Da Vinci watercolor tube of Quinacridone Red and you’ll have a quattro palette that will allow you paint anything on the planet! (here’s an example of those 4 colors via a couple glasses of wine, which I’ll be enjoying now that we’re at the end of this post! For the record, it is in the evening that I’m writing this.)
Da Vinci Watercolor Trios Are Available Now!
I hope you enjoyed my overview of mixes in my “Shiny” trio and if you’d like to purchase a set for yourself, well now you can! Each trio is only $19.95 and includes a little brochure with information about the artist on the back and opens to reveal their mixing chart as a reference. My trio contains colors that would cost quite a bit more if purchased separately, so it’s really a wonderful deal!
Also be sure to check out Tonya’s post and Jennifer’s post. They both share their gorgeous trios, and the wonderful art and mixes they created with them. And definitely buy their beautiful trios. You can click here to buy Tonya’s trio and click here to buy Jennifer’s trio! We each receive a portion of sales, so thank you so much for supporting your fellow artists!
Whew, that was a lot to cover in one post! Hope you’ll love these new Da Vinci watercolor trio sets, hand-selected by artists. I can’t wait to see what you’ll make! Happy Painting!