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.


  1. You know, I've never done that, and thinking it over, I'm not sure it would work for me - from what I can tell, you apply paint thickly enough that it's color reads as its color; but everything I do involves transparencies so thin that the apparent color of the paint is very different from the color on the canvas - except when I thicken it. So I'd need to add another dimension to the chart for thickness variation, and another for colors over which the color in question is applied, and the entire mess would end in tears, and lots of squares. But it's a gorgeous procedure.

  2. Well, you know, part of the point is to train you into dealing with tones. Obviously, both the black and the white are going to blue things, so are just useful as a standardised guide - you couldn't possibly mix all the mixes you would actually use!
    I work on toned ground usually as well, and vary the thickness of my paint a fair bit. I do feel, though, that it is useful to where a particular colour sits on the tonal chart.
    Also, you get a better feel of the transparency of the paint as you are working with it - there are a few that look really dark out the tube, but sit more towards the middle when applied to the white paper.
    Guess I just needed a handle on all these new paint colours the New York trip threw at me!