Going Monochrome – Part 1

Today I want you to break out the watercolor paints, or if you don’t have those lying around, colored pencils or whatever color medium you decided to go with in the beginning (if you have nothing, it is worth grabbing some watercolors. Even a cheap kit from Walmart will suffice.

I want you to choose a single color from your paints and find yourself a subject. It can be in front of you or out in the world, the more dynamic the lighting the better, so if you are painting this outside, doing it in the middle of the day provides the least interesting lighting (the hours after the sun rises and before it goes down are the best for outdoor lighting)

Once you have your subject, start painting using just the single color. Your task is to paint the values that you see, the darks and lights, as best you can. The trap most of us fall into is how to define the very light areas (in the case of watercolors, lots more water, very little paint). We tend to use similar amounts of paint-to-water, ending up with something that looks too flat.

Why are you doing this? If your goal is to keep a travel sketchbook, at some point you will want to incorporate color into your work. Adding color to a drawing can enhance a drawing quite a bit, and painting with a single color helps you familiarize yourself with how to use your paint (assuming again that you are using watercolor) without the pressure of mixing and choosing the correct colors. Without that pressure you only need to concern yourself with teaching yourself how to subtly add more or less color to your brush to get the depth you want.

Lastly, if you painted something outside or something where the subject will be moved (still life, etc), take a picture of it for reference later. This lesson continues tomorrow.



My before and after, done with a watercolor brush pen.



1Paint or color a subject using a single color, focusing on light and dark values
2Show it off in the Facebook group