Project Five – Exercise 3: A limited palette study

For this study I decided to go for the already identified scene and composition from Exercise 1 in larger scale.  I was not so sure about the brief and which medium to use. As I definitely wanted to capture the contrast between the old bricks façade and the modern painted façade, I decided to go first for a wet medium (gouache with wax resist technique on the old bricks) and to continue with dry medium Conté crayon. As this exercise demanded a limited palette of three colors I chose red, ochre/sepia and brown besides black and white.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 3

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 3

I worked on a square format (approx. 75x75cm watercolor hot press 300 g/sqm) vertical on the wall (my good experience from project 3). I decided for a vertical drawing as first I wanted the liquid paint to drop down like in real life. Also to be with  my body close to the ‘wall’ like standing in front of the buildings (therefore also a large scale format).  I decided to keep the lower edge of the paper open and untapped: to let the picture flow beyond the edge.

I took my sketchbook drawings and notes and transferred the composition with marking the strong verticals, diagonals, and my eye level. I added in white oil pastel the bricks pattern and continued with applying the main areas in diluted gouache.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 3 - progress

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 3 – progress

By that sequence I prepared the surface for the following conté crayon markings. I worked first with sepia, continued towards darker areas in umbra and black and finished with white and black for some more receding areas a rather ‘wash-like’ effect. I had a different brand of crayons than used before and it turned out that they were less brittle, more ‘plastic’ like texture.  Anyway I had to work with what I have. Next time I have to be careful on this topic. For the street lantern I worked rather loose in dry and wetted black crayon with some additions of white.

I worked quite heavily on the bricks pattern as I was not that happy as it appeared first. With additional layers (white pastel, gouache, conté crayon) I worked on it till I received the intended visual effect of very old bricks.

Stefan513593  - project 5 - exercise 3 - progress 2

Stefan513593 – project 5 – exercise 3 – progress 2

This exercise took me besides the preliminary sketchbook studies from exercise 1 around 2 days. Perhaps longer than intended for this exercise study but I truly wanted to get it through. At the end I am pleased with the overall visual effect and the perception of depth and perspective. The final picture conveys rather well my mood and feeling while being on location. I did not feel restricted by the limited color palette at all. Next time I would perhaps work more on the paint pattern of the colored buildings (kin of ‘dripping’ effect). But this would require rather a wet medium. At the end I kept it as it is with more focus on the dry medium in the context of this exercise.


  • I like the combined wet and dry medium approach as it allows me to get different visual effects.
  • Working from preliminary studies (sketchbook and notes) was not only helpful but in this case rather necessary (something I figured out in Ex.2 as well)
  • Wetting the dry medium Conté crayon leaves rather thick and deep marks.

Next time:
– Think about how to keep my paper flat while applying wet medium prior to dry medium (surface ribbles -> watercolor technique wetting complete paper surface)
– Considering consistency of conté crayons.
– Considering wet media for ‘paint’ effect.




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