Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Refresh, Just Like a Season

My friend David has been filling my imagination with all his experiments.  He is quite like an alchemist.  This transition season (OK we are two weeks behind Toronto) is a nice interlude for changing things up.

I decided to change my entire palette.  This includes the white I have been using.  The change was a colour for colour pigment substitution.  All the pigments used are modern organics, except for the white.  It is a throwback.  The organics are high staining and transparent.  They also hold their intensity better than the Impressiomist pigments or the classical neutrals.  See for a great reference.  Here is what I typically use and what the experiment called for;

Old                                 New
Ultramarine                     Pthalo Blue
Viridian                           Pthalo Emerald Green
Cadmium Yellow Light  Hansa Yello Light
Cadmium Red                 Permanent Red
Alizarin                           Quin Red
Mineral Violet                 Quin Violet

For white I turned to David's favourite, Flake White.  By the way, his approach to speeding the drying of the white is to add Grumbacher's MG white which uses natural resins as opposed to alkyds.  Gamblin says this about Flake White;

It's the leanest of the Gamblin whites and the best underpainting white. Its beautiful opalescent quality is of special interest to portrait painters. Flake White Replacement has all the working properties of traditional Flake White: long ropey stroke, warm color, translucency and short brush mark. Not only does our FWR come without the lead but it also doesn't suffer from the fast drying time of traditional formulations, which contributes to the cracking of oil paintings over time.

Out I went to the trail in Silver Creek.  About 20 metres in I set up and tried to paint "what I saw".  These pigments mix in an entirely different array of hues compared to my usual.  A good reason to keep a palette stable - then you can be spontaneous and just reach instinctively for the pigments required.  Now the Flake white is another animal.  It is stringy with a mind of its own.  Carry on we must.  Here is what came of the two hour session at 5C on a beautiful morning.

Six Gliders Circling, 12x12, Oil on Canvas

For brushes I used three.  The #14 bristle flat was used for the wash of green and red.  Later on it was used for some edge work and to simplify a few passages.  The #12 bristle filbert was used without any mineral spirits and it was used on the cooler darks.  I only wiped the excess pigment off the brush to keep it dry.  A #8 long filbert was used for the warms and lights, again keeping it dry.  This is the brush that got into all that gooey white stuff.  As the Flake white dried I added some alkyd butter to the palette to make it workable.  Brush strokes hold beautifully in the Flake White.

Go to your room and practice.........

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