Friday, March 11, 2011

Mixing What you See or What you Wish to Install

What you see and what you wish to Install can be totally different things.  If your concept is to paint what you see you must be able to actually see what is there.  Not so easy as we have discussed.  Nope, the snow isn't white.  If your concept is to paint what you imagine you wish to Install, you have to be able to describe that colour/value and be able to paint it in relation to the rest of your painting, else you go garish or chalky etc.  You need colour unity.  To get this the colours (hue) must be right relative to each other and the relative value must be correct as well.  This is easier to see when you work from life than say an abstract painter working from the mind.  No wonder so many paintings don't work.

Let us look then at a colour mixing process.  Following a process long enough will make it intuitive for you.  That is why experienced painters make mixing look so easy.  They cannot even tell you what the process is.  Having a process to follow early on will short cut the path.

Here is the process;

1. Examine and identify the colour (hue) using an open eye
2. Choose the closest tube colour on your palette (may have to mix colours from your palette)
                Tube colours are the highest chroma or brilliance so start with this.
3. Adjust the value.  This will lower the chroma.  Value is extremely important.  Squint for relativity.
4. Adjust the hue.  Add warmer or cooler as you see required.  This also lowers chroma.
5. Adjust the chroma.  Hard to adjust higher (add tube colour).  Add complement to lower.

You may have to back to the value adjustment and repeat since it is so important.

Painting in Process with Value and Colour Checker

When you look at this process and practice with it you will experience value changes as not so straight forward.  For example, how do you make yellow darker?  Most people reach for the black.  Unfortunately it makes yellow go olive green and dirty.  If you add yellow ochre the chroma decreases.  If you then add yellow deep the chroma will increase.  There is no formula and each colour is different.  Trying to lighten a colour is also a problem.  The addition of white cools the colour, causes a shift in hue and decreases chroma.  So for example to lighten red you might add white and yellow - lighten and then increase chroma.  A great set of exercises.

In the oil painting above you see a painting in process with a colour and value checker.  Look how white the checker is or how dark the colour is.  You will also note the vibration in the light area of the painting.  This comes from the way the paint was mixed and applied.  This is known as optical mixing.  Separate colours are placed next to one another or pulled over top of each other with the colour below still showing so some degree.  Another mixing and applying method is glazing.  Here a transparent medium plus paint mixture is placed on top of another colour.  This usually done wet over dry forcing the painter to take a long time on a painting.  It can be achieved wet over wet with brush control, and a translucent  finish can also be achieved this way.  Finally, one can blend the paint.  This often results in "licking" and dead looking paint.  Using all three methods in the same painting gives a dynamic image.

Closer View - Optical vs Blended