Playing With Color

So I promised play days, and I have been breaking your brains a bit these last few days, so today is light. If you have purchased colored pencils, watercolors or have some other method of using color, I want you to practice using it.


Above is my effort to create different values using watercolor and colored pencils. The reason I want you to do something similar is to practice some control over what you are doing, and to let you know that it’s okay to go dark. People beginning tend to be timid in how they approach color and shading and I want you to know early on that it’s okay to go big, but also know how to work light as well. On the top left. that is almost entirely water with just a kiss of blue. On the right, zero water, only (wet) watercolor paint.

So try and show five color values using a single color with whatever you have available. I know some of you have alcohol based markers which I have not used before, so I am excited to see if/how you pull that off.


Also attempt to mix colors. As you can see certain tools work better than others, though that also depends on the colors you use and the tooth of the paper you are using. If you are using water or even acrylic paints, you can add water to the brush to assert more control over the color if you feel like one is dominating.

No big agenda here, just play around so you get familiar with it a little, because it will come up later.


With this I used both watercolor with some colored pencil over it, which I liked doing. Many artists bring in colored pencils over watercolor because it affords them a little more control over loose watercolors.

Why play around with watercolors in a drawing class?

Well the first is because it’s a nice feather in your cap to have the skill to add depth to your drawings. For most of us, the goal is keeping a travel journal, and as you have seen if you have liked the Urban Sketchers Facebook page, 90% of them incorporate color in some way.

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  • Show five different values of color from super light to super dark with three steps in-between. Then play with color a bit in general.
  • I was going to wait to have you do this, but there is a private group for Urban Sketchers on Facebook that you really need to join. I discovered while poking around both that the private group is way, way better at showing a variety of styles from artists all over the world. Some truly inspiring artists are found there.
  • I just joined this group today so I can’t fully speak for it, but I found some lovely pieces of art at the Artist’s Journal Workshop, also a private group and more incorporating journaling.



1Five Color Values using color tool of choice
2Asked to join Urban Sketcher private group on Facebook
3Asked to join Artist's Journal Workbook on Facebook