Terra Verte and the Earth Tone Sunset

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I have always wanted to pay more attention to the Terre Verte pigment. Thus far I have found it to be…. um… to put it kindly…. anemic. No matter how much Terre Verte I put on my brush, it seemed to disappear as soon as I applied it to the paper.  Today would be different. I had a whole tube of it at my disposal.

I applied it directly to my 3 inch brush this time. Again, I stroked and stroked it on, and it looked like a grainy, greenish, ghostly shadow.

Bright idea:

I allayed my disappointment with the promise of an idea that occurred to me. Since I was using a rough paper, I thought, “What if I could spackle what little pigment there was into the valleys of the texture?”  That’s what I did. I started by dis-assembling my razor. I used the double-edged razor on its own (with no safety net), to scrape the pigment off the paper, while wedging the pigment into the cracks.  It seemed to work, but I needed something wider. My straight razor was also too narrow. Finally, I used the edge of one of my drafting triangles for the task.

The end result of this phase of my experiment was an outline of a landscape at the bottom quarter of the paper, terraced by the short strokes of the safety razor. The remainder was a pale greenish color.

After all this I’m still not sure how to use Terra Verte. Is it supposed to be mixed with other tints? Does it require layer upon layer? I guess I need to do more work with it to find out.

The rest of the painting:

Since I already had a head start on a landscape study, I figured I would finish the job. The area above the horizon was such a light green that it would not be a problem to paint over it. I have been using earth tones lately (Earth Tone Abstract, Close Shave, On Target), so I decided to use them for the finale. My contrary nature also took delight with the prospect of painting a sky with earth tones.

Watercolor: Abstract - Sunset colors using earth tones; foreground Van Dyke Brown/Yellow Ochre

Earthtone Sunset
9″x12″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block


The colors I used for the sky, from bottom to top were: burnt sienna, quinacridone orange, and gamboge. I squeezed out the gamboge directly on the paper and spread it around a bit with the razor before using my brush.

I overpainted the green at the bottom with Van Dyke brown and yellow ochre, leaving only the horizon line and the top of the closer hills the concentrated color of Terra Verte.

One of the unintended results of the spackling at the beginning of this study was to flatten out the peaks of the texture, thereby emphasizing the roughness. It was surprising that the color at the peaks rather than the valley’s of the rough surface contributed to the overall look of the painting.

I am not sure if this piece is finished yet. I might try adding more Terra Verte to see if it has anything else to contribute to this study. Or any future studies.

2 thoughts on “Terra Verte and the Earth Tone Sunset

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