Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Value of Chroma

I looked at my palette the other day and saw a few piles of various greys scraped from the previous day.  From my recent trip to Niagara on the Lake in ominous grey weather - breaking, I decided to paint using just these greys and a new deposit of titanium white.

Red, Blue, and Yellow Grey

None of these piles was mixed thoroughly and that gives me even more choice.  Each of these piles is cut way down in chroma - not bright like a cadmium red for example.  I chose a board with a cool toned surface and began to paint - darks, then lights and mid tones.

These paintings are dark in line with the the concept.  But it is interesting to see mostly low chroma against a little bit of higher chroma.  But that higher chroma is still far from high.  That is how it is ket back in space.

Fort Niagara Looming, 8x10, Oil on Board

Shark Launch, 11x14, Oil on Canvas on Board

First boat on the water even in all that grey.  So, waste not!  Paint on.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tech Insight on White

I read the blog Painting Stuff to Look Like Stuff.  Kate stone ran an interesting piece on whites.  As for me I use Rembrandt Titanium White, and a variety of Lead Whites by the likes of Blue Ridge.  I also had RGH blend me some Lead White with Safflower Oil.  SLOOOOW drying but beauty.

When you look below you will see why I have had to change my storage method for my lead white panels.  Keep 'em sunny side up.

Pearly Whites

Being one of those people who gets a bug up their ass and pursues a random project to the eighty percent mark before suddenly dropping it to pursue something else, spring cleaning is an especially interesting time of year for me.  It's when I uncover a half-finished, gender-neutral baby blanket made out of hypoallergenic wool; a perfectly organized tupperware box full of every size and shape of envelope that I could possibly ever need, unopened and forgotten; and fourteen separate notebooks and moleskines with the first ten pages filled out with really fascinating objectives: the properties and chemical structure of drying oils (riveting!), quotations about money (wow!), flowers and vegetables I want to plant (I even bore myself).  I also found... my old colour swatches!  Back from when I bought tubes of paint like they were five cent candies and then meticulously tabulated them in my precious, precious binder.

I'm going to throw it all out because I'm so over being a nerd and I've since blossomed into a sophisticated and carefree artiste who doesn't even read the pigment label anymore.  But before I do, take a look at these whites:

This advanced yellowing of something that should be white reminds me of something, but I can't quite put my dental plaque on it.
The key is as follows, listing brand, colour name, pigment, and binder:

A. Williamsburg, Titanium White, PW 6, linseed oil

B. Winsor & Newton, Titanium White, PW 6 and PW 4, safflower oil

C. Lefranc & Bourgeois, Titanium White, PW 6, soybean oil

D. Old Holland, Titanium White, PW 6, binder unknown because that's how Old Holland rolls

E. Winsor & Newton, Cremnitz White, PW 1, safflower oil

F. Gamblin, Flake White Replacement, PW 6 and PW 4, alkali refined linseed oil

G. Old Holland, Cremnitz White, PW 1, unknown

H. Rembrandt-Talens, Titanium White, unknown, unknown

All of these whites were tucked away in this binder in a box for the past several years, so the yellowing is quite exaggerated.  If these paints had been used in a painting and left on a wall where there was some light, it wouldn't be this bad.  But still.  It's worth thanking your lucky stars you didn't paint your masterpiece with Old Holland Cremnitz White.  I mean, you didn't, did you?

Word to the wise, if you're looking for a titanium white to use, look for something that says PW 6 only (no PW 4--that's zinc) and preferably a safflower or a soybean oil.  Good luck.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Some Processes from Adapting to new Conditions

At this stage I seem to be capable of a 2 hour studio session 4 times a week.  In order to deal with this I have taken to a few changes in my typical process.  Interestingly this seems to have clarified my concept building.

  • Limit to one and one half hours painting - the study is done at that time.  This fixes a light condition.  So, as I get stronger I plan to do a series of studies en plein air.  For studio painting I prefer to work from the plen air studies and will try a series of short sessions for each work.
  • Using a short palette.  Three primaries plus white plus a warm or a cool as needed for that session.  In the studio I often add a couple of colours to fill out the colour mask.
  • Using greys mixed from the previous painting session.  These are unique and save me painting time.
  • Painting on a dry coloured ground.  A time saver that I expect will lead to wet coloured ground as in the past and working from white primed canvas.
  • Use of a round brush.  Variety to the feel.  I tend to use this early as I scrub in the composition.  I tend to mass instead of draw, but I use a variety of starts.
  • Scraping and tonking to remove paint, then to paint over again.  A different look and feel.
  • Use my wife's round hair curling brush as I come out of the shower.  Because I can.
  • Painting contre jour.  I have tended to do this in the past but now it seems more logical as I paint a short series with the light moving.
  • Painting small in the plein air environment.  Time saver.

 Living on the Seine, 12x16, Oil on Canvas on Board

I am experiencing trouble finding reference material since I am not yet going outside.  Believe it or not, I can't deal with the cold I once loved.  So I have sketched in pencil from the car and tried photo reference from trips I have taken.  Here I am short on remembering the real situation and the concept that moved me to snap the photo.  Photos are so limited.  

We will see how this evolves.  In the mean time enjoy!

Honfleur Inner Harbour, 12x16, Oil on Canvas on Board