It would definitely be an advantage to quickly record important colors while painting in changing light. One way to accomplish this is to create small pieces of correct colors to use later in a color study, or a finished painting. Today, I gave everyone a daisy and a bachelor button. These two flowers have very different greens in their stems, This is an example of a color map created in class by a student.
This is a color study (painted on a piece of mat board with a coat of gesso) of the daisies and bachelor buttons in a red Solo cup by the same student.
Here is the final tiny 4 x 4 painting after the color map and color study by the same student. This student was my sister, the very talented Kate Church. If you click on her name, you will be directed to her web page where you can enjoy her fabulous work. What a treat to have her visit and paint with us!!
Looking at a collection of landscape paintings, I found that the paintings that were most interesting to me had a compelling area that seemed to emanate light, to "glow". I remember reading somewhere that in a painting, an area of glow seems to expand beyond its painted boundaries.
To discover how to achieve this in class, we each examined a painting with an area that glowed. We deliberately worked to reproduce the glow that we saw in our example.
Here is what seems to work. To achieve an area that glows, make an area of pure clean light color. Transition from this color with a color in line on the color wheel (e.g.. light pale yellow, follow with a light, pale yellow orange, then light red orange or starting with white, follow with light, pale yellow). Follow this with a middle value of a chromatic neutral. A "chromatic neutral" reads as a color's name (e.g. instead of grey, a chromatic neutral is a greyed "purple").
Here is a subtle example of the effect of a chromatic neutral green compared to a more "clean" intense green beside the area that we want to "glow". The less intense green on the left grape makes the glow more effective than the brighter green on the grape on the right.
Some of my students have continued to struggle with understanding color value, chroma or intensity and color temperature. Therefore, we did this exercise. We took a red, yellow and a blue (works best with a blue that is more to the turquoise hue (rather than ultramarine blue which leans more red or purple). We also used white and transparent oxide red or burnt sienna.
Here are the directions:
First row: Put a square of the tube color directly from the tube.
Second row: Keep the hue (color) the same and match the value across the row
(As many times as we have worked on value, this was the first time some students relearned that each color has its own value For example looking at their value scales, they re learned that yellow is a lighter value color than red or blue. Therefore, going lighter was a good option to solve this challenge). In my example, I lightened all the colors. You can see that adding white also cools the colors. Adding white also decreases the chroma (the intensity) of the colors.
Third Row: Keep the value of the new color the same as the value of the color from the tube but decrease its intensity. You know (from above) that adding white decreases the color intensity. However, it also lightens (and changes the value of the color it is added to). Instead, using a small amount of the compliment of the starting color corrected to the original color's value or adding a small amount of the transparent oxide red also corrected to the starting color's value, decreases the intensity but maintains the value of the challenge color.
Fourth Row: Keep the value the same as the starting color but change its color temperature. Again row two cools the starting colors, but it also lightens its value. Therefore, this example adds a small amount of a warm color to the starting color ( a small amount of yellow was added to the red, red to the yellow and the tiniest amount of yellow (to not change the hue to green) was added to the blue).
Looking at this 3 x 4 grid, you can already see the wide range of harmonious colors and see colors move forward and backward in relation to each other.
This to the left, is a painting by Julie Ford Oliver (link) that illustrates her "fracturing" technique. You can get her video tutorial where she demonstrates this technique for only $15 from Daily Paintworks (link). I have watched it many times and continue to learn from it. Our exercise was adapted from her tutorial.
Our subject was a strawberry. We used our exercise canvases. None of these surfaces move paint very well. Therefore, we put a fairly thick layer of paint mixed with medium all over our surface. Using a mid or light value color was more successful than using a dark color for this step. We then used our wipe out or Kemper tools (link) to drag paint off the surface and create interesting random marks. These were both thick and thin lines. Next, we sketched in our strawberry using either the Kemper tool, or pastel pencil. Now, we painted the little painting. Everywhere there was a line, we pretended it was the border of a mosaic and changed colors. For example: in painting the dark strawberry flesh we could paint alizarin crimson and magenta. At a line, change to alizarin crimson and purple (still dark but a change in color). Once the little painting was completed (including the background), we took the Kemper tool and created new lines (or redrew lines that we liked and wanted to repeat) and dragged the strawberry color into the background and the background color into the strawberry. Them we repainted our strawberry composition, again altering colors at the lines. If some lines didn't work for our evolving painting, we painted over these.
This was fun for everyone. We stopped after these two passes. However, we saw that we could continue adding more layers. All of the little exercises were delightfully loose and interesting.
Here is mine:
This exercise was adapted from a lesson from Virtual Art Academy (link), Virtual Art Academy is an on line class that I have been enrolled in and highly recommend.
I painted this example in a variety of colors to make it easier to follow. Draw simple geometric forms to represent the masses of the tree foliage (For this exercise, we drew three circles). Mark the source of light. (Here it is coming from the upper left). Sketch in the form shadow shape (remember the shape is concave toward the light).
Get out your value scales to continue. Paint the areas in light a value 6. Paint the shadow areas a value 4. I included the values of the three colors I am using: value 6 (light) to the left.
Add some of the light color into the shadow area: larger strokes in the center of the form where the leaves are closer to the viewer. Smaller strokes are at the top and the bottom (as the form moves AWAY from the viewer). Add some dark color into the light area using the sizes of strokes noted.
Paint the edge of the light area a half value darker than the light area (you painted the light area a value 6, so paint the edge plane a value 5 1/2). If this were round still life object, the edge plane, as the form moves away from you is less lit, so slightly darker. In this case, the explanation given by Virtual Art Academy is that at the edge of the tree form, more of the leaves are seen end on, so the shadow side of the leaves affects the edge plane color.
This is the exercise painting described in the previous post overpainted with color. Our main teaching point was to evaluate the color of the raw egg yolk. In our mind, an egg yolk is bright yellow. Yet, when we compared the yellow of our tubes to the yolk, we discovered that the color intensity of the tube yellow was always too bright. Therefore we adjusted the intensity of the yolk yellow using a tiny amount of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue (red and blue make a purple which is the mixing complement of yellow, so it will grey down the yellow.) Since the yolk is very yellow, it takes only minute amounts of the alizarin and ultramarine to adjust it. Other things that were valuable to paint were the transparency of the raw egg white, and the colors in the white shell.
The colors used in my example of this exercise were: cad yellow light and deep, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, white and the underpainted asphaltum (which was still wet but thin).
Stuck for a subject? We think a raw egg is one to revisit.
Last week, we did an exercise on simple value/tonal painting. Our subject was a raw egg and one or both of the eggshells on a white plate. We lit our our egg and shell and moved the pieces around to find an interesting composition. Using three values (light, medium and dark), we looked to have different quantities of our dark, middle and light tones to create interest. For example, in my monochrome example, there is a small amount of lightest value, a middle amount of dark value and the largest amount of medium value. As long as the quantities of these three basic values is different, the composition will be interesting. In contrast, an equal distribution of light, medium and dark masses in a composition will be uninteresting.
This is a figure taken from "The Simple Secret to Better Paintings" by Greg Albert (link) illustrating that given unequal division of the tones in a composition, the smallest area becomes the center of interest (regardless of its value)
Our exercise used any single color. Some made a grey using transparent red oxide and ultramarine blue, or pthalo green and alizarin crimson, burnt umber or the fabulous color asphaltum by Gamblin (link) in my example above.
Many of my students enjoy the paintings of Dreama Tolle Perry (link) and Nancy Medina (link). Some of us have studied either in workshops or in e courses with these artists. Both Dreama and Nancy use an underpainting of rich transparent colors diluted slightly with linseed oil: gamsol (1:! mix) (Dreama) or Chroma Brand Archival Lean Medium (Nancy). Both darken their transparent under layer substantially before using opaque colors in the upper layers of the paintings. These opaque layers use no medium. Note that any paint (including the transparent paint) mixed with an opaque paint becomes by definition an opaque color.
This week, we identified and organized all of our paints into opaque and transparent colors.
We taped our transparent tubes for easy identification.
Whether a color is transparent or an opaque pigments can be found on the tubes themselves for many of the common brands we owned. Winsor and Newton has a square on the right upper back of its tubes. A blank square (one that you can see through) is the symbol that the paint is transparent: a solid black square (one that you cannot see through) is the symbol for opaque paint and a square that is half and half is semi-opaque. Rembrandt uses the same squares but theirs are located on the front left of their tubes. Sennelier has their squares on the top back left in the black name banner. The following brands print "transparent, opaque or semiopaque on their labels. Williamsburg has this listed on the back top under "Pigment". Gamblin writes in in capital letters on the back also under the pigment description. Richeson has a box on the lower back that lists the pigment properties. Michael Harding also prints theirs on the back in the pigment information. Perhaps the Japanese on the back of Holbein paints has this information but it is not something I can use. I cannot find this information on Old Holland tubes. With paints where this information is not found easily on the tubes, one can go on line and click on the "pigment information" tab for a particular color.
Our exercise to illustrate the properties of transparent compared to opaque colors had each class member identify (or if possible mix using transparent colors) a color that appeared similar in a transparent and an opaque tube. For example: top left transparent sap green. Second row left: sap green mixed with indian yellow, then opaque cinnabar green, transparent red medium by Rembrandt and opaque cadmium red.. Each color pair was applied thick to thin in a streak on the exercise board. The underlying canvas could be seen through the transparent strokes and not through the opaque ones. Tilting the surface so that the paint could be seen across the surface further illustrated the difference in the opacity of the pigments. In addition, even with the single matched pairs, we could begin to see that the opaque pigments advance.. This explains why our "go to" deep grey mixture of ultramarine blue and transparent oxide (both transparent colors) makes a rich deep dark. It also explains why the centers of the flowers that Dreama and Nancy make using their transparent mixtures stay in the depth of their flowers.
Next, we added white to each color pair. White dulled down the opaque member of all of the color pairs we tested. The transparent -white mixtures retains more color intensity (chroma).
This is my underpainting of transparent colors. Notice how well the dark transparents receed into the background. I have redefined my drawing in the wet paint using my wipeout or kemper tool (link). This allows me to apply the opaque colors more precisely. That way, there is more likely a clean deliberate stroke of opaque paint and less blending if I had to move things into the correct position,
The opaques have been added to complete the painting.
I started this painting by painting a gesso board that I had prepared (see post 2/27/2017 (link) with acrylic pink paint. Then I mixed strings of flesh colors using combinations of cad red light, yellow ochre pale, some sap green, transparent red oxide and white and put small patches of color onto the areas that I saw them. Painting on a black or red surface adds an immediate "depth" to a painting and the figures appear dimensional even unfinished.
I think the illusion of dimension is even more apparent here.
Here small pieces of bright sun-lit colors have been added to the sand, water and waves. The clothes are "fluorescent" because of their intensity. The green is caribbean blue and cad yellow light. The orange is cadmium orange and cad yellow light. Little pieces of the original pink can be seen and the pink also gives "warmth" to the painting.
To mix more realistic greens (like those in landscapes), often the intensity needs to be modified. Here is a mixing exercise that changes the intensity of the greens without changing its value..
First: Mix more cadmium yellow pale (top first row) with less ultramarine blue (second box: first row) to achieve a nice starting "cinnabar light" green (warm, opaque, spring green: top: second row). Then, alter the values of the greens: in order, these are: add more ultramarine blue (darker), original mix, add more cadmium yellow light and more cadmium yellow light. Above: instead of yellow, add more white and more white.
To achieve the slightly less intense (but same value greens seen in the row beneath these starting greens, first mix equal value violets to the greens that will be modified.
Violet is made with ultramarine blue (second box: first row) and permanent rose (third box: first row). It is more red (third box: second row) or more blue( second box, second row) violet, depending on which is the predominant color in the mixture. Both mixed purples (the reddish and the bluish) are dark colors so to determine what a dark mixed color looks like, test a tiny piece of it by adding white (shown third row beside parent dark purples). To change the values of the purples, add white (string of purples beneath matched value greens).. The slightly less intense greens are made by adding a tiny amount of the corresponding value-matched purple into the green that is being dulled down. Adding MORE purple, will grey the green further. By first making a matched value of violet, the mixed green will keep its value and change only its intensity. A small amount of the matched blue or red violet was added to the greens lightened with white in the top right squares.
Do this yourself. It will make more sense. this exercise will also be practice for making some good starting greens and violets.
Bright unmodified greens in this floral study. This painting was working on bright, not realistic colors.