Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Palette Mixes - Earths vs Brights

This weekend I took advantage of it being the Glasgow Fair to work on choosing a palette of colours. To do this, I painted the same girl 3 different times using 3 different colour set-ups.

First was the so-called Zorn palette, of black, cadmium red, yellow ochre and white. Paring things right down to 4 colours was very interesting and is something I will do again at life drawing - where you really don't have the time to guddle about with colours. Black is a colour I really haven't used at all, so it was a nice surprise to discover all the deep purples and lovely greens you can mix, as well as how blue the straight black/white mix can look - this will be useful for eyes, I think. Unfortunately, the photo I took was too bleached by light to see the colours - and as it was a pretty bad painting I rubbed it all off.

Second was the brights - Phalo Green, Ultramarine, Scheveningan purple-brown, Cadmium yellow light and Flake white. (there is also black and red on the palette from the first try).

This combination was furthest from my comfort zone, as I rarely use green in painting skin. This particular green was one of the ones I bought for the Peter Cox workshop, and seems very bright - it produced the most complete string you can see, a very neutral mix. Next to it is the ultramarine/purple brown mix, which I deliberately made less neutral and more pink. And next to that, yellow is added - a colour I really under use, so I was pleased with how much it warms up mixes. However, I missed my yellow ochre . . .

Next up was based on Harold Speed's Oil Painting book (because it was lying around, and is based on the earth colours). He mixes up two blacks - one with burnt sienna and one with cobalt, which is actually pretty useful. The red was a mix of venetian red and burnt sienna - not exactly what he recommends, but close.

I then followed the stages in the book, which initially seemed far too pink, but snapped into place as the painting went on. Shame the underlying drawing was wonky.

Anyway, much was learned - and I like the new palette set-up. It is, of course, based on the previous little squares - the charts remind me where each colour starts and I can then darken or lighten by added the appropriate colour. Cadmium yellow light, for example, is a three to start, so lightens the five of yellow ochre but keeps the yellowness.

There is a painting in progress now using this system, and it does simplify things for me - letting me concentrate more on brushwork and relative colour temperatures while painting. It also makes me think more about composition and colour choices before I begin rather than just rush in. For me I don't think there is one right palette - each situation is different. But the more I understand what the individual colour does, the better . . . .

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Joy Of Painting Squares

Today I painted squares. Lots of squares.

This is because I have been thinking about skin tones, and the wide range of colours different painters use - an obsession shared by others, as can be seen at this blog . So I decided to experiment - painting squares is the the first step, actual painting the second.

Each row is one colour, with the brand noted. One thing already evident from doing this is there can be quite a difference between brands - I have 2 burnt umbers, with the Gamblin one being much more intense. The row varies from a light shade up to black, using titanium white and ivory black to adjust the shades. The tube colour is outlined. All this gives me clear reference material for deciding which colours to use for a particular painting - I can see how light or dark the tube colour is, and how it changes with white.

Next, I plan on doing a few paintings using what is thought to be other painter's palettes - like Zorn's cadmium red, yellow ochre and black. Mainly these will be first layers only, or life paintings, but we'll see how I like the variation - the point will be for me to really think about my choice of colours and how they effect the final painting.

Hopefully, the end result will be more thinking, less painting time, and particularly less "darn, that's not quite right, I'll have to do it all again" time.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Dr Sketchy New York

A visit to New York without visiting Dr Sketchy's seemed unthinkable, so I duly went on my last Sunday.

Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs - the main reason I attend Dr Sketchy's here in Glasgow.

A couple of years ago, when I was a newbie oil painter, I really needed photographic reference of faces and bodies to work from. I was still too unsure of myself (and skint) to hire a model, even if I had known one available. Dr Sketchy's was the answer, and when attending regularly I met lots of interesting people who are now friends - including, of course, Fiona Wilson

Not only were we not allowed photographs, there were an awful lot of very quick poses. That can be interesting, if you have the right media with you (the watercolour would have been fine, but the paper was far too thin for using a brush) and if the model holds lots of different, athletic poses. This one didn't - they were all variations of her lying or sitting on the table, with her head almost always turned in one direction. Even worse, although her costume was lovely, it covered a lot of skin as well as her hair, with virtually no bony landmarks visible. For some reason, I like to start with the clavicles, which generally weren't visible - or even guessable!

So I left. Terribly rude, and very disappointing, but I was pretty tired and had packing to do for the trip home the next day.

Oh well. Maybe next time. Meanwhile I am thinking about revisiting some of those old reference photographs.

Friday, 6 July 2012

East River Ferry

On the last weekend, I went down to Wall St, sat for a little at the Elevated Acre watching the helicopters and then onto the East River Ferry - this was drawn while waiting for it to arrive.

As I did the full trip - up to East 34th St - it took a fair while - unfortunately more than enough time to get sunburn, despite my factor 50! Ferries are dangerous for that . . . must be the wind.

After such a relaxing morning, watching the sights go by, was an afternoon of shopping. (Several folks have been horrified to learn I only spent a couple of hours doing this - and never went into any of the departments stores. Just not enough time - or the ability to carry anything more home, after all the paint I bought!)

Another thing I didn't have enough time for was sketching like this, which is one of the major regrets of the trip. Ah well. Next time.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

At The Jane Hotel

On the 25th, the day after my birthday and the residency open studios, I went wandering. A big loop was followed, down the highline from the Port Authority Bus Station (horrid place, not least because of the people hanging about in twos with guns) to Jane Street (I kinda wanted to have a look at the river here, but couldn't figure out how to get accross the traffic). At the eastern end of Jane Street is The Jane Hotel , which appears to be rather on the quirky side, with dinky rooms. The foyer is pretty posh, with at least two folks in fancy uniforms and potted palm trees.

There is an attached cafe, where I had one of the nicest meals I ate while in New York - maybe because it was french-moroccan themed, so the food was lighter and less sugary. The interior decoration, as you can see, was rather individual - alligator on the wall, lots of model boats, cake stands, a juke box, and who knows what else!