Archive for July, 2010


Painting Update 2: Shakespeare in the Park

July 24, 2010

I’m not as far along on this as I had planned to be by now. Must stop dawdling.

Again, some of this will likely change after I get the rest covered. I can see certain areas already that aren’t as dark as I think they should be, but I’ll hold off on adjustments. That’s what has been delaying me so much. Patience…


Painting Update: Shakespeare in the Park

July 18, 2010

This is what I’ve painted so far on the new one, about a third of the surface. Bear in mind that much of what you’re seeing here is likely to change after I get the whole thing covered.

I’m working in a sort of “blobby” style on this one, if I may use a technical term. It tends to keep everything more abstract and shape-centric. The fabric texture keeps the edges rather fuzzy also.

These are the colors I’m using, if you’re curious. Clockwise from bottom left is phthalo green, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, a quinacridone red “light”, diox. violet, phthalo blue, raw umber, ivory black, cerulean, burnt and raw siennas, and titanium white.


Digital Picture Frame For Reference Photos

July 15, 2010

I bought this gadget at the office supply store today. It’s a digital picture frame display device made by Ativa.

The plan I have for using it is to replace the paper prints around my work area I used as reference images for painting. I once used an old laptop computer for that years ago, but it died. Prints are okay and cheap but sacrifice color accuracy.

What convinced me to get this was being able to save money on print cartridges from now on. I picked this up for @ $50 with some store coupons tossed in. The LCD screen is only 5×6.5″ (8″ diagonally) at 800×600 resolution, but that’s big enough to see clearly without taking up much space. Color is what’s important here and that shows up very well. It also has a zoom feature for large pictures and can pan across them. It can read the memory sticks I use with my camera and has a USB connection for the computer. This should work out fine.


New Painting Started: Shakespeare in the Park

July 14, 2010

I’ve finally got a new painting started. I hope I remember how it’s done. This is just the first step with undertone shading before being painted.

Preliminary undertone inks

This is based on an extremely low-res photo I shot with a borrowed cell phone taken many years ago. It’s of a crowd of people watching a performance of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” somewhere in downtown LA.

The size is 20×16 inches. It’s on a polyester fabic that I’ve toned with sepia and blue inks. The fabric was mounted to untempered hardboard with an acrylic gel. I expect the painting will be in casein. The image may seem a bit dark and gray, but that’s actually how it looks right now. It’ll sharpen up once I start applying paint.


If Your Color Wheel Won’t Roll, Maybe It’s Flat

July 11, 2010

Many art students learn how to mix their paints by looking at a layout similar to the one above. It was how I first started. What is intended to take place in the center of this wheel, its spokes if you will, are the various mixtures. I realized later that I was actually looking at just two dimensions of color, hue and chroma. Hue being the color label (i.e. red, yellow, blue-green, etc.) and chroma being how much hue is present, or what Albert Munsell called the color’s strength. Unfortunately, those students are not getting the whole story.

What becomes immediately apparent is that many of the pigments I have don’t appear on this wheel. Where’s burnt umber, or for that matter, black and white? Why are so many of my paints much darker than these on the wheel? What I discovered is I wasn’t looking at a wheel but a CYLINDER. Turn it on its side and you see it has another dimension, value. Now I can more easily figure out where my paint color sits in true color space.

There’s a fourth trait that paints have, however, beyond color alone, and that’s how opaque they are. This is a physical property pigments have that cannot be described on a color wheel, and it is critical to understand. Paints have to be used in combination figure out how the pigment behaves. It’s their fourth dimension (Eeeek! Dum-Dum-Duuum!)

Many paint companies use an icon that shows how opaque the paint is. They’re not all the same, however, and sometimes what they call opaque isn’t very. The best way to determine this is to put them to use and test them out. Add white to see what tints of the color look like, paint undiluted layers over darker and lighter value paints, scrape layers across white paper to examine their quality, and of course test them in various mixtures. This will help you determine where they sit on the “cylinder” model. I always do this with new paint.

A limited palette is very practical for painters, but if you cut it down too far you won’t be able to mix all the colors you may need. If you find yourself frustrated with how poorly your mixes turn out, it’s likely the fault of your color selection. Fit your pigments within the color “cylinder” as best you can to determine where the gaps are. I like having colors that straddle both sides of the color fence. For example, I prefer having different blues that are somewhat reddish or greenish, as well as having slightly different values. It offers me the most flexibility, even if I rarely use them all.

Books for further study:
Color Notation: An Illustrated System by Albert H. Munsell
Color Studies by Edith Anderson Feisner
Power Color by Caroline Jasper