What colors do you see?
When we paint with watercolor, or use any color art material, we often simplify how we refer to the colors in our palettes, the colors we see, and the colors we mix.
We apply our previous knowledge and experience to the way we paint items. And there is not a thing wrong with that. However, if we look and see, really see, the colors in the world around us, it connects us in a deeper way. We may not be able to replicate these colors on our nature journal page, but it doesn't mean that we shouldn't take the time to acknowledge the wonder that they exist in front of us.
I mean isn't it amazing that multiple shades, tints, and hues can be found in a single leaf we'd just call green? And then add to the amazingness that the lighting and reflected colors play a part in the color we see and the fact that each of our eyes sees the color a little differently and we have a world of wonder in a single color!
Good Old Green
Our Earth gifts us so many hues to feast our eyes upon, that sometimes it's easy (for simplicity and times sake) to just blur swaths of color together as just green grass or just blue sky or whatever the colors. And most of the time that is efficient enough for our day to day.
You've probably heard about how colors affect our mood and temperament such as red is agitating and blue is calming, warm colors are energizing and cool colors relaxing. Well, it goes fascinatingly deeper than that.
Did you know that scientists have discovered that within typically functioning human eyes, the color green needs no adjustments to be made?
Dr. Esther Sternberg calls green,
"the default mode for our brains...the photoreceptor pigment gene that emerged first in evolutionary history is the one most sensitive to the spectral distribution of sunlight and to the wavelengths of light reflected from green plants."
(The Well Gardened Mind, p73)
This is one of the many reasons that being in nature and gardening is so relaxing for our high strung human species. We literally evolved to be green minded!
Connecting with Green
Well, since plants are green, and we have evolved to relax around the color green, then is it fair to assume that painting with green, in nature, is double relaxing? I think so.
Drawing and painting nature, creatively connecting with nature, develops a form of connection and caring between the artists and the plant. We have to really see it to represent it on our page (regardless of whether we are painting abstractly or representationally).
So this Wonder Wednesday, during World Watercolor Month, let's mindfully connect with our paint colors and our world - starting with the color green!
Wonder Wednesday 120: Color in Watercolor
- Watercolor paint
- Paper, loose or in a journal
- Water, paper towel, your favorite misc. painting supplies, etc.
- Take a walk in a primarily green space where you feel safe.
- Look at all the different greens you can seek and find.
- Breathe deeply. Imagine the green colors you see going into your eyes and brain and sending breezes of relaxation through your mind and body.
- Feel a connection with your coevolutionary biology with each and every plant around you. You are an important part of a green world.
- If you find a good spot, have time, and feel safe, you can do this mindfulness painting project in nature. If not, do it when you return home.
- Or if you can't get out into nature, do this in a calm quiet place with a memory of a past time that you were surrounded by greenery. (And perhaps bring a little flower, small plant, little leaf, or even green pepper or snow pea pod from the fridge to your painting area.)
- Prepare to paint. Take 3 deep breaths. Ground yourself in the present, in focus, and in your environment.
(I have only 2 actual greens in my travel palette.)
- Take a moment to look at the green or greens in your palette. Admire them. Let your eyes absorb them. Connect with this color in watercolor pigment form. These pigments are from nature too, just as you are yourself.
- Think about a simple shape that you like - it could be a dash, an arc, a dot, a swirl, whatever you like. This will be your shape you will repeat in this color exploration.
(I love leafy shapes!)
- Now, paint this shape with your greens.
- Play with the saturation, the various greens, and with mixing greens (You may choose to mix a little blue or yellow into your greens to make new green hues.)
- Repeat your shape in green hues, tints, and shades until you fill your page.
- Bask in the all green-ness and relax your eyes, body, and mind in physiological evolutionary bliss!
- Repeat this color connection process and painting meditation with all the primary and secondary colors in your palette. Play with brushes and the marks that different brush sizes and shapes create.
- Go out into any bit of nature (or even gaze at a potted plant or a piece of lettuce) and bask in the greens (and the natural colors) whenever you need or want a brain break. Even just a couple minutes and a few deep breathes relaxes our nervous systems. No amount of nature is too small and no time too short! Even a quick gaze is beneficial.
- Use this color painting meditation any time you feel tense, uncreative, or even as a painting warm-up!
What is your favorite color? & Is there a reason why?
Share in the comments below!
Share your color meditations on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder !
Seeds to Sprout
Connecting with Color eCourse
Did you like this project? Would you like to learn more about color theory, color mixing, and color in nature journaling? Then check out my classic online mini-course, Connecting with Color!
A Watercolor Funsheet!
In this Wonder Wednesday 83 project, I offer you a printable funsheet of tropical plants for your watercolor painting enjoyment!
Explore Color: A 3 part blog series!
In this 3 part blog series, we explore 1. How color influences us, 2. A few artists who are domain changing masters of color, and 3. Color palettes that create seasonal moods. Have some colorful fun while you learn more color skills to apply to your nature inspired art making!