Wednesday, August 17, 2022

So What Can You Do With 3 Colors?

The Freedom Of Limitations.

    Having once painted with 16 to 20 different oil colors on my palette and adhering to the belief that that was the best and only way to adequately mix color, for some reason I don't remember  when or why I began to reduce the number of hues.  Soon I was down to five and, for the last couple of years, down to three.  Scott Christensen, Dawn Whitelaw, Tim Deibler, and James Richards, among others, influenced the move to a limited palette. 

But does a limited palette mean limited choices?  Once I would have said yes but now I'm convinced the initial idea of that meaning fewer choices is exactly the opposite.  The false idea of limitation leads, in practice, to more creative and careful uses of what is available....maybe even more choice.  Less is more and all that.

So I went to the paint store the other day and tried to find color samples that would confound and confuse  those three colors.  

My 'palette' was a piece of grocery sack colored card stock coated with warm toned shellac, two coats on each side.  It's what I often sketch on.  

My colors are Titanium white, Cad Yellow Light, Pyrol Red, and Thalo blue (red shade).  The first two I use regularly but the blue can be Ultramarine blue, Prussian blue, Thalo blue or Paynes gray depending on the subject, the light or my whimsey.

So I decided on a challenge.  I went to the paint store and picked up samples that I thought might be fun.  I brought home 21 colors to see if, using that short palette, I could match those paint chips.  Here are the results:

The First Batch

The Second Batch

The short of it is that matches were easy to get.  Some were eleven attempts and some were two but I always got there, and it didn't take much time.  (If you are looking for the exact matches they are hard to see from the photos.  The reflection off the paint changes things, but the matches are there.) 

Like when I go out  painting, the first thing I did was to squeeze out the primaries and then mix the secondaries.   On the pic of my paper palette above you can see the primaries, secondaries and my mixing attempts.  I have tried it both ways when painting and having the mixed secondaries there always makes the final paintings go faster, plus they feel more interesting and colorful compared to mixing color as I go.  

Perhaps that speaks to having a broader palette in the first place yet mixing all hues from the primaries lets the colors sit together so much better.  It's like having a party where everyone likes each other in the first place ... Avoids so many squabbles and disagreements.

Thanks for being here.  I'll be back with some samples of work I've done with only 3 colors...

Monday, April 25, 2022

'Gouache on the Fly' Demos


Last week we ended....

    ...Gouache on the Fly, my course in using watercolor instead of gouache to fill a very portable sketchbook.  True, we also used white gouache and a little black, but most of the paintings were done using tubed watercolor like it was oil paint.  We had a great time exploring this approach and here are the demos I did for those in the class but I thought you might enjoy them also.  This is my third sketchbook done this way and I'm still enjoying the processs.  Below are full page (8.5x11 inch) scans that begin in value studies and move on to full color.

Black and white gouache and one from a mix of two complements.  There is some unintentional green on one rock on the vertical piece which was an accident.

The top one of the bridge is on a piece of watercolor paper; the bottom one is right on the sketchbook paper and is a value study done in a warm and cool color but not representative of the color in the scene, just the values.

Sketches are out of order.  Some were done earlier in the course than others and they were put in the sketchbook where I could find room.  The top one is another warm and cool value study done with Alizarin Crimson and some sort of green I mixed.  All are done on card stock of varying colors or watercolor paper.
Top one is another value study in warm and cool.  Two colors plus white gouache sitting in our living room.  Don't ask me where the fish came from....

A redo of an earlier one with an emphasis on the watercolor transparency.  

Thanks for looking.  Because this was an online course most of the images are fron photos.  Normally this method is something I use almost entirely for field sketching. 

Back soon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

One Sketchbook, Fifty Paintings


A Few From my 'Gouache on the Fly'....

....sketchbook.  The Class begins on March 28th, 2022 through the Winslow Art Center (WAC click here) A simple, quick, easily transportable, and inexpensive way to sketch your artistic ideas.  Come join us!

Here are a few more sketches, all plein air....


Japanese Garden
Glacial Erratics

Thursday, March 17, 2022

"Gouache on the Fly" Course at Winslow Art Center


I have painted in gouache for.....

.....many years, decades actually, but on and off.  It is a marvelous medium, very forgiving and convenient.  Compared to oil paint, some control is lost.  It doesn't exactly dry in a value that's similar to the way you mixed it.  It also goes matte, losing some of the color intensity from what it looks like in the liquid state.  That sounds frustrating and it is....but it is compensated by its fast drying, allowing the ability to quickly make it lighter or darker and go right over the top.  Sometimes it's important to accept something uncontrolled and new.

A few years ago I began a notebook of heavy weight card stock paper in several color tones as a foundation for sketching with gouache (gouache is basically watercolor with calcium carbonate added for opacity and body).  With a small kit I could carry it around with me almost anywhere and do sketches quickly, close the notebook and walk away with dry paintings to use as a library, of sorts, of material for other paintings or personal exploration.

Missing for me was the transparency mixed with opacity effects so I began mixing in some watercolor.  Soon the watercolor was the main medium but it was used with white gouache for the opacity part.  Eventually I stopped carrying the colored gouache in favor of less expensive tubed watercolor.  By using watercolor thinly in washes, but also thick like butter using straight paint or mixed with white gouache, I could realize the best of both worlds and that made it more fun and descriptive.  

Beginning March 28th, 2022 I will be teaching a course in this technique through the Winslow Art Center online courses.  The notebook I will supply for free once you sign up and the other supplies you will need are inexpensive. It makes for a great travel medium and its speed allows for many more studies than other mediums.  Once dry, they can be covered with a variety of media that makes them very impervious to being harmed and can be framed without glass.

Here is a page from one of my sketchbooks showing a painting right on the notebook paper and another pasted in using a different paper:

Both of these paintings use a combination of transparent and opaque effects as well as warm and cool, dark and light, soft and hard edges and various textural paint effects.   I like nothing more than sitting down in any old spot and painting these satisfying pieces.

The course is 4 weeks long for three hours each meeting day.  When you are finished you will have a notebook full of your artistic excursions.  We will do weekly optional critiques, I'll do frequent demos and we will explore lots of compositional experiments.

 Please join us.
 The class size is limited so come join us at the:  Winslow Art Center .

Black and white gouache with a couple spots that show through to the paper for color.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

  Marker Class Demos...the journey to a painting.

Currently,  I have an on-line class in....

.... Drawing with Valued Markers, one of the best ways I know to sketch in the field and obtain the most information while exploring compositional ideas.  Our course ends tomorrow and I'm interested in finding out if this group, like most of my class groups, thinks it has been helpful.  The online experience has been different from teaching this in person so I'm looking to hear their feedback and ideas.

Here is the still life setup:

You can see that the lighting changed a bit between the time I took the photo of the setup and actually doing the painting in gouache.  

Here are two class demos.  One is using 3 markers of differing values and a Sharpie pen, letting the white of the paper fill in another value, white or no value.  The other is done on toned paper using the same values as the drawing on white paper but adding white gouache in varying thicknesses for the lighter notes.

Both of these versions give helpful ideas about composition, limited values and detail that are very helpful in the creation of paintings.  The one I did is 11" square (image area) on paper that was toned like a kraft grocery bag. 

Thanks for stopping by.  If you keep coming I will likely start posting more often....and I have a studio of stuff that hasn't seen the light of day. 

Oh yeah.  My book is available again.  Check the Pages above.

Keep Drawing!!