High Chroma

I am frequently a painter of subtlety: of small things that might be overlooked, of browns and blues and layers of green. Not today. Drawn in by the vivid, bold color of these poppies at the Berkshire Botanical Garden, I pulled out a whole new palette from a set of six high chroma colors from QoR to paint them. I have never used any of these colors before and it felt a little like driving a car for the first time– a little nerve wracking and reckless, but also liberating and fun.

Like the poppies, the set of six colors are pure, intense, and saturated. What’s nice is that the colors in the set were chosen to work well together and to produce a full range of colors. I found the only thing missing for this painting was a way to get a good deep green. I added some sap green, but ended up with stems and leaves that are inconsistent and murky. In retrospect, phthalo green might have been a better choice. Here’s the color test I did after the poppies (I know, testing before would make more sense.)

Tips and Techniques– The quality of a color is described by words like hue, value and chroma. Hue is the color itself, as represented on the spectrum of all colors. Value is the relative lightness or darkness of the color, and chroma refers to the quality of the color’s purity, intensity, or saturation. They all make a difference, but what’s really important is to get to know the colors you have in your palette. If you haven’t already, do some color tests of different combinations of primary and secondary colors to see what combinations mix best. If your paintings tend to look flat, it’s likely you need to expand your value range by leaving more lights and pushing the darks.

38 thoughts on “High Chroma

  1. Your color testing is useful. I am always amazed at your mixing abilities! My poppies are long gone, and the peonies are fading fast. This inspires me to capture them before they’re gone!

    • Yep. Peonies are on my list too. They’re are just coming into their own in my yard and I better get going! I like the pale combination of quin magenta and quin gold for the subtlety of them….will likely try that.

  2. Excellent pages, flowers are beautiful and intense – just like poppies are supposed to be 🙂 and it is always interesting to see som colour-testing. I have never tried QoR, but they seem to work very well for you!

    • QoR / Golden is a New York based company, so I like the idea of buying locally if the paints perform well. I haven’t used them extensively, but will continue to test them out with a variety of subjects. I liked the way they performed for this page and I suspect they will be nicer on better paper.

  3. I went to the QoR factory several months ago and took a tour. Then, of course, bought some tubes. I live their vibrancy! A little goes a long way.

  4. They’re certainly effective for the subject, and I’m crazy about your color test pages – they are pure joy! The tips & techniques paragraph is great advice, and as always, well written.

  5. Thank you for the tips. I’ve read them several times over and I’m testing my own now. Love the poppies! And the yellow warbler. So pretty! You really grabbed the colors😍

  6. This really makes me want to learn watercolor! I’ve been wanting to for a while, but I don’t really know how to start. Your art is so inspiring!

    • Thanks Avery– I’m glad you’re inspired! And there is no better way to begin than by picking up a brush. You might look for a beginner watercolor class near you to help you start, check out books from the library or online videos, or just play around with a simple watercolor set. I really like the book “You can Paint Watercolors” by Alwyn Crawshaw. It’s a small paperback that goes through the basics without being overwhelming. Good luck!

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