Life In Primary Colors

#WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 21 - Macarons In Primary_Colors - Doodlewash

For today’s prompt of “colorful” I decided to give it a go with just three primary colors. French macarons just seemed the right choice for such an exercise. I’m always amazed at what’s possible with a very limited palette. I passed by some of these treats today and they were still on my mind. I didn’t eat any as I find them a bit too sweet, but I think they’re rather pretty to look at.  I tend to grab for bright, sometimes candy colors rather than using a more muted, natural palette. I was like this as a kid as well when I attacked a box of crayons. Digging through to find the brightest colors in the bunch. Soon a bright pink bird would appear, flying next to a purple cow or an bright orange elephant. I just felt the world looked cheerier when painted in bold colors. My tastes have refined somewhat, but I still like to keep my colors a bit brighter and more saturated than they could possibly be in real life. For me, it captures more the mood I’m hoping to convey than the exact object itself, which is just a sort of happy feeling. The kind you can’t always explain.

Back in art school, during my one and only painting class in acrylic, I had a painting due the next day and no idea what I was going to make. While others had been working on their painting for weeks, I was still staring at a blank canvas. I did what any art student might do in such a situation. I downed several beers and then grabbed a couple big yellow sponges. I attacked that canvas with reckless abandon and stupidly bright colors. The end result, to my eye, was perfectly wretched. An abstract mess of pure energy that was only relevant to me in that moment. But when I took it to class the next day, people saw things that I didn’t. Moods, feelings and shapes that I certainly didn’t intend and could barely see when they pointed them out to me. But, my art wasn’t a complete disaster after all. Something happened that made it connect with people. They had an emotional response while viewing it. I left that class feeling a bit better, save the hangover, and went home happy.

As for the painting, it was later lost in a huge basement flood and I found it bobbing in the water among the four or five other paintings that I had made for that class. Being acrylic they sparkled with a shiny plastic sheen, half-submersed in the dank water. It was the oddest gallery show I’d ever had, but it was somehow fitting. In the midst of such a horrible thing, those sparks of bright colors made me smile. I didn’t care about the paintings, I honestly never liked any of them. But in that moment, when I saw that horrible sponge painting float by, I finally saw what they saw. Not the erratic lines or the questionable composition, but the emotions that were bubbling on the surface. Bright strokes of life, made impossibly more colorful than any reality could ever mimic. Yet, there was still a bit of truth to be found. That moment stuck with me, and now, over 20 years later when I’ve decided to try painting again, it’s still how I approach my work. It’s not the world as it truly exists, it’s a bit happier version of it. And just like that day back then, my paintings are still spontaneously made, bobbing in water, capturing stolen memories of my life in primary colors.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Da Vinci Yellow, Quinacridone Red, and Cobalt Turquoise.  Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with sepia ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book.
 #WorldWatercolorGroup - Day 21 - Macarons In Primary_Colors - Doodlewash

 

Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie

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! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!

27 Comments
  1. Mary Roff 9 months ago

    Nice, Charlie! Wish I had a stack of those right this minute!

  2. Pamela Smith 9 months ago

    So pretty yummy colors.

  3. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 9 months ago

    What a fabulous story, Charlie – you are far better at art than you think, you always were. But the way you put your memories together with your Doodlewashes elevates everything to a pensive level I would never expect on an art blog.
    As for your macarons – Sweet is the point, and these are really tempting. I keep trying to scrape them off the computer screen.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      You’re so sweet and encouraging! Thank you so much! It’s so difficult some days to show up and make a post, but knowing that people appreciate it when I do means so much! 😃💕 And yeah… macarons are made for sweet! hehe

  4. Sandra Strait 9 months ago

    Beautiful Macarons! I always think they are prettier to look at than to eat. I love your description of a basement flood as a gallery show. You know that would probably be a big hit if done on purpose. Make people rent waders and go looking at art in a flooded room. They could go fishing for the artwork, and would probably buy stuff they caught, even if they didn’t like it.

    • Rod Fletcher 9 months ago

      Sandra, that’s a strange mind you have there LOL

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Lol… yeah… Fishing For Art! It’s brilliant! 😃💕 hehe… I’m sure it’s been done in some dark corner of Soho. All the great ideas always seem to be taken. 😉

  5. Jodi 9 months ago

    great job on the macarons using only 3 colors. Gosh how I would love to see that yellow sponge acrylic painting now 🙂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Jodi! 😃💕 Yeah, I sometimes wish I still had those paintings to look back on. But I’m thrilled that I have a brand new set archived here and safe from floods at least! hehe

  6. Lisa 9 months ago

    When I read a little too sweet for me, I had to look and make sure it was you writing this!!😂😂😂

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Lol… I know right?! While I do love dessert, I like it with a bit of complex flavor and not quite the sting of pure sugar! hehe 😊

  7. Sharon Nolfi 9 months ago

    I love the colors you’ve used here. I believe life should be lived in the brightest colors possible!

  8. Jennifer McLean 9 months ago

    well, it seems you and I have a similar palette. I always think of it this way. I can always dull down a color but I can’t brighten it up so why not start out with the brightest, most transparent colors I can get my hands on? Yep. I paint how I feel when I see something which always comes out brighter than the reality. I think that’s a good thing.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      That’s a very good thing!! hehe 😃💕 Yeah, it’s so true, especially with watercolor. It’s always best to start bright!

  9. Myra 9 months ago

    What a great story. Yeah the I don’t have many likes or fans yet but the ones where I had no doubt and went with an idea and focused on that idea with a smile and even more so when a lighbulb goes on and I make changes. Sometimes I look at it and feel the way you did but later on when I stumble on it and am impressed or just love it. I wish I could have seen your work. I really believe I create amazing work because I get these awesome ideas. The problem is I doubt.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks, Myra! 😃💕 I’m confident you create amazing work! If you feel passionate about your ideas, then amazing simply happens next!

  10. smzang 9 months ago

    “Soon a bright pink bird would appear, flying next to a purple cow or an bright orange elephant” My son’s first water color was a ‘purper square’. It was really hard to identify
    it as a ‘purple squirrel’, but he knew what is was and his eyes shone with pride…so did mine!

    As for the French macaroons…they look delicious.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Aww… that’s such a sweet story! I love it!! I love seeing that sense of pride in a child’s eyes for anything they create. 😃💕 How is it that we lose that? And glad you liked my macarons!

  11. Susan Cuss 9 months ago

    To me, bright colours are happy colours. Yummy looking macarons ( I’ve never tasted them)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Thanks so much, Susan! 😃💕 And you should definitely try one at least once!

  12. afilmer 9 months ago

    You’ve done macarons before, so I searched “macaron” on your site and found several examples. What an extraordinary improvement you’ve made over time. Impressive. Now, if only I spent even a little time every day, I might make improvements, too. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 9 months ago

      Aww thanks!! I really appreciate that! 😃💕 I specifically chose them again because they’re so darn tough to get right! hehe…. they look simple, but they’re not. Glad you liked them!

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