Shades of Blue: Drawings, Watercolors, and Works on Paper

“Shades of Blue” is revival of a drawing show, titled (appropriately enough) “Blue Drawings” which was first exhibited at Portraits, Inc. in June 2015 at their New York City gallery. Curated by Michael Gormley and Patricia Watwood, the show is presented by Equity Gallery, Portraits, Inc. and RayMar Art.

Contemporary realism portrait drawings
Dan Thompson
multicolor chalk

From the organizers:

As do many exhibitions, the collective theme arose from observing ascending trends in practice – in this instance the use of blue toned paper, line and/or wash to heighten the expressive impact of drawing – specifically in representational and figurative styles.

Contemporary realism portrait painting
Melanie Vote
2015 – 2021
Mixed media
10 ½ x 11 ½ in.

Individually, the drawings chosen for the show referenced a diverse range of influences -from the balanced restraint of the neo-classical to a more experiential modernism. Once installed, the drawings coalesced into an expansive field of sea and sky, each work a distinct shade in an overarching expression of blue’s psychic depth and purity.

Contemporary realism figurative art
Steven Assael
“Tatiana with Blue and Orange”
ink and mixed media on paper

There is great diversity in the meaning of color and its associations within the culture in different time periods. That said, the color blue calls to mind a serene constancy and the humanist pursuit of order, as opposed to a discontented chase after serial enthusiasms. Under this tempered lens, blue symbolizes restoration, as opposed to radical change, with undercurrents of introspection leading up to expansive vistas of rarefied beauty.

Drawing of a peacock
Dina Brodsky
Watercolor and gouache on paper
4h x 4w in

With a renewed appreciation for the diversity in color symbolism as a context-dependent influencer, the exhibition title “Shades of Blue” was adopted to signal a broader range of media expressions and to acknowledge an ever-expanding association of individuals and cultural groupings within the blue color space.

Figure drawing in blue
Patricia Watwood
“Venus Anadyomene”
sanguine, chalk and watercolor on paper on paper
18 x 12 inches

Patricia Watwood tells us that her works for “Shades of Blue” were created with a technique using Fabriano paper toned with watercolor.

“Each paper is unique, and when dry, I add a figure drawing in sanguine,” Watwood says. “I use various hues of blue watercolor in the backgrounds, like ultramarine, indanthrone, and cerulean, because they so easily suggest sky, water and atmosphere to the imagination. By adding just a bit texture or horizon, like touches of white chalk for clouds, I can shape the pictorial space and mood.

“The blue paper works well with sanguine drawing media heightened with white, making warm and cool relationships that can easily evoke skin tones. I love all shades of blue, and the these pale colors remind me of favorite things like fresh breezes, clear sunlight and freedom.”

Contemporary realism - drawing hands
Daniel Maidman
Graphite, white pencil on Canson paper
15 x 11 in
Figurative art drawings
Sherrie McGraw
Study in Blue
Charcoal, conte and pastel
21 x 14 in.
pastel painting of chicken
Kristin Kunc
“Chicken or the Egg” 2021
Pastel on paper
11 x 14, 15 x 18 framed
Oil painting of ice and water
Lisa Lebofsky
“Ice Breaker 2”
oil on paper
4 ½ x 6 in. (framed 10 x12 in.)

“Atmospheric blue is the desire between you and the space before you,” says Lisa Lebofsky. “As you approach your destination, the blue siren song recedes to the horizon and deeper to the bottom of the sea, an unattainable but persistent beacon. Its depths signal life, hope, and unbound potential, but it is also the abyss that can swallow you whole – the binary emblem of the sublime.

“In ‘Ice Breaker 2’ (above) a blue ground served as the base. The application of white paint in varying opacities pulls into form the floes and bergs of arctic multiyear ice on its southern pilgrimage. The lights are then pushed back into the deep recesses with more blue paint, paralleling the buoyant dance of these nomadic and glorious icy shores melting to their ultimate demise.”

More About “Shades of Blue”

Featuring: Juliette Aristides, Steven Assael, Anne-Marie Belli, Andrew S. Conklin, Diana Corvelle, Grace Athena Flott, Brooks Frederick, Andrew Hockenberry, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Maria Kreyn, Lisa Lebofsky, Liz Lindstrom, Zachari Logan, Daniel Maidman, Hyeseung Marriage-Song, Sherrie McGraw, Edward Minoff, Alexey Steele, Alexandra Tyng, Dorian Vallejo, Melanie Vote, Patricia Watwood, and More

Equity Online Marketplace
Feb. 15th – May 16th , 2021

DFN Projects, New York, NY
Feb. 14th – Mar. 12th , 2021

Portraits, Inc., Birmingham, AL
Apr. 17th – May 21st, 2021


  1. So much enjoying this article and these wonderful drawings! One question: you tone the paper with watercolor, then draw with pastel. Do you spray it with fixative afterwards and if so, what brand?

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