Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Color, Color, Color

Please pardon my absence - I get so into things and forget to organize a posting. 

I've been on a break from painting recently.  I went off taking new photos, carving pumpkins, cleaning house.  When I got back to the real world, I felt this need to go buy some new paint colors I read about and ended up getting a few acrylic colors to play around with different grounds.  I usually paint on black.  Time to try something different.  It relieves the boredom and sometimes something new and unusual happens as a result.

Here are the acrylic colors I chose ....

An acidy green, white, a lipsticky red, a wine tone, Indian Yellow and an aqua I had already.

And I just went to town mixing...

Then I loosely painted the acrylic on white, pre-gessoed panels....

I favor warm grounds, but included some purples and cool blues.

Speaking of new colors, Gamblin came out with these wonderful, yummy colors I know I'll use avidly...

From left to right - Portland Warm Grey, Portland Cool Grey, Green Gold, Warm White and Cool White. 

I must have 6 different brands of Green Gold and I love them all.  I find it essential for tinting skin tones, grass greens and beach sand.  Yummy.

If you're ever in need of new enthusiasm with painting, I suggest buying some new colors and start mixing up something new on your palette.

Paint On!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Essential Colors

My Favorite Things - Part 4

Please pardon the delay in adding new posts - life was complicated for a couple of months.  I fully intend to keep adding new painting processes including recommendations, like this one.

You know I have an addiction to colors - in case you missed the post about my palette, I usually squeeze out 40-50 different colors.  There's no routine or order to them, I grabbed what I want that particular day - maybe different variations of red or blue that I haven't used in a while.  But there are several that I always use and I'm probably on my 10th tube of each of these.  They are my essentials, and I'll tell you why.

Asphaltum is my brown of choice.   I don't have Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna like most prefer,  this brown can be mixed with golds for a lovely bronze tone or a little red for a warmer brown.  I prefer Gamblin as a brand for this color.

I  l-u-r-v-e  Old Holland's Caribean Blue - I just bought this today, it's my 3rd tube in the past 7 years, unlike the others I'll mention, it goes a long way.  Think of Saffron when added to sauce.  It just takes a little bit added to another lighter blue of lighter green to bloom into a rich turquoise color.  I've tried other brands with a similar color but splurged with Old Holland because nothing works as well.

Speaking of blues,  Holbein's Horizon Blue is by far my favorite for mixing for sky and ocean/water colors.  I use it with neutral tones for sand, I mix it with fleshy tones for skin and use it with whites for a cool-white tone.

Richeson Oils are fairly new to me - I'm digging them.  Especially this Ice Blue that feels like the best neutral additive to many colors.  I've heard it's a favorite with portrait painters.

A big favorite of mine, Richeson Oils' Leaf Green - that gold/green that is essential with skin tones, it warms up other greens so beautifully as well.  Old Holland has a green/gold that was as concentrated and vibrant as their Caribean Blue,  this is a great alternative and a tad cheaper.

I love Gamblin's Radiant colors, especially the green.  It tints every color beautifully,  this is probably my 10th tube.   I use it mostly for skin tones to temper the reds and oranges.  Love it.

Indian Yellow is a MUST.   I prefer Gamblin,  I've tried several brands and always return to Gamblin.  I liken it to saffron, as a color - it works as a tinger (if that's a word) and adds electricity to anything.  It will 'stain' a color, make it warm.   I love using it alone on edges, especially shadows.  It's a must when mixing skin tones.   This is probably my 15th tube and I'm almost out of it.

Another must-have is Gamblin's Radiant White.   It's creamy (like yogurt), not as thick or opaque as Titanium White or similar.   But it is the thing to brighten up a color and it doesn't take much.   I'll bet this is my 20th tube.

Last but not least,  I have many versions of black.  I'm on a life-long quest to find a favorite.  For now,  I mix two or three or four different brands and versions together.   I don't believe that you shouldn't use black.   That's just silly.

3 different versions of Torrit Grey

PS -  Any time you're buying oil paints, ask if they have any Torrit Grey.  They're usually free.   They are incredibly useful (I love greys) and every batch is a different tone.   It's made of the sludge at the bottom of the mixers.   It's always a surprise what tone it'll be.  Some lean cold and some lean warm, some lean greenish and some brownish.  Love 'em.  Gamblin even has contests for artists based on the current year's batch.

Hope this is helpful to all the color addicts out there.   What are your must-haves?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Painting "100+ Faces, No. 113"

I'm not going to show you the mugshot I painted from, out of respect for the real guy.

Trust me when I tell you the original police mugshot is blah in color and lighting, as most are.

That's what imagination is for.

I picked this face because of the glasses.  I need the practice on glasses.

Starting with my 4" square panel...

just a quick sketch.

The way I think about a face is the same I think about a landscape
or anything else for that matter.  It's just shadow and light and areas of color.
It's best if you just forget that it's a face.  At least until you're close to completion.

I map out the features just a bit for guidance.

Adding areas of color, paying some attention to values.
What I like about the small panel and painting faces is I jump around the painting
with the same color in spots.  I have a different approach with other subjects
as you see in earlier posts.

Adding some reds.

Adding a hint of the glasses.

Filling in the highlighted areas.

Adding small touches here and there, not overworking the glasses.

This is the point where I tweek the values a bit and add some needed touches
of Indian Yellow.  We have a lot of green/gold in our skin, so if you
end up with a chalky, rosy feel to a face, I'd suggest mixing in some greens.

 I like saving the background for last.  I use it to form the painted part,
taper in when needed and play with the edges.  You can see I tried
a few 'swatches', just feeling out which one I like best.

I also looked at the original photo and checked a few
traits this man had - I tweeked the right eye a bit.
 If you notice the ears aren't particularly symmetrical, 
it's one of his individual traits.

Nobody's perfect.

 And .... done.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brushes Brushes Brushes

My Favorite Things ~ Part 3

It's a personal thing with painters.  I know that.  If you have your favorites, it's because it either just feels right in your hand or you're convinced it's the secret to how well you paint. 

I'm kinda amazed how painters use round tips with oils.  I'm even more amazed how expensive some are.  I learned a few years back I don't want to devote a lot of time to pampering my brushes, which is what you do with expensive brushes understandably.  That would drive me nuts.

Which is why I ended up liking American Painter brushes.  They're cheap.  I use them until they're spent then give them to an artist friend who believes in bringing them back to life.

I really like painting with a flat brush so I use what are called 'washers'.  Meant for watercolors but who cares.  This handful is about $90 worth and if I paid attention to sales, I'd pay 40% less.  I get them at Michaels and sometimes order them thru Dick Blick.

It's probably the single most asked question what brushes I use, so there you have it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I'm a Color Addict

My Favorite Things, Part 2 ~

And this is me being conservative.  

Someone at my workshop told me they read I have all these different colors because I don't mix paints. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I've been mixing colors since I was a kid making a mess of my mom's palette.  It's one of the most fun aspects of painting with oils.

I'm a condiments girl.  In my fridge, I have 4 different mayos, I'll bet 7 different mustards and my spice cabinet is overflowing.  Variety's the spice of life.   It makes food flavorful.  It makes painting full of dimension.   A color orgy.   The possibilities are endless.

I am not loyal to any particular brand of oils.  After painting for 7 years now,  I've got my favorites due to trial and error.  I tend to like Gamblin, Holbein, Williamsburg and Richeson - if I were a rich man, I'd load up with Old Holland.

I respect those who use a limited palette, but it's not for me.  There's no right or wrong here.  What's important is we're psyched to paint.  And colors excite me.

If you paint, and you don't feel like you can mix the colors you want - it takes time and practice.  They more you paint, the better you mix and before you know it,  you're doing it in your sleep.

ps ~ I use pizza pans as you can see.  They're cheap ($4) and when I'm done with it, I toss it and start all over again with a fresh one.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Painting 'Fond Memories'

After a couple months of indulging in wonderfully, delicious foods through the holidays (I had a bucket list on paper you know), after all my wishes for sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie (any kind of pie really), Toll House cookies, pancakes, cheeseburgers and fries .... (I'm drooling as I type) .... I am back in, what I call 'Calorie Prison'.  So now I live vicariously through Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and imagine what it all tastes like.  So I thought I'd vicariously relive cheesecake through oil paints.

Above is my original photo blown up on my Mac screen.

After a little editing, cropped and sized to my panel dimensions.

No guidelines necessary, I do a light sketch with paint.

Starting with the cherry on top and moving down.

This is the kind of subject that oils are meant for.
Swervy, loose painting.

Just allow that red cherry juice to bleed into the top - enjoy the oils.
I used a flat brush about 1/2" wide for the whole painting.

Painting cheesecake is no different than painting a house.
It's merely a form.  Sides are lit or shaded.

At first, the imperfections of the front tip of the slice made me think
to clean it up, but real life is an imperfect slice of cheesecake.
So I went with it.

I even thought to nix the napkin (I don't know what that's called)
 under the slice, a little daunted by how I would paint it - but I tried it.  
I just painted a solid area of color and
added some highlights and shadow and ended up liking it.

Same way I tackled the shadow beneath.  A solid tone then swirled in
some colors and adjusted the values of the napkin.

Just like the grass around the house, I worked on the plate surrounding the slice,
added the cherry on the left - trying not to nit-pick with details because
it wouldn't be right to tighten up in one spot and not the rest.
Consistency is good.

I liked the drama of the dark background so I went with a black-red.

And.... done.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

For Those Artists Who Prefer to Paint Small

My Favorite Things, Part 1  ~

Tools are everything.   They make a job easier if you have the right ones.   So let me share two of the most useful tools in my painting life - invented out of necessity and custom-built by my guy, Brett.

On the first day I sat down (I must sit, I have horrible knees) to start painting, back in 2005 I think, I had this common, somewhat rickety tabletop easel.  I found it so annoying, it broke my concentration when it tilted and wobbled or I had to adjust the wing nuts to tilt the painting.  H-a-t-e-d it.  So I asked a friend to build me a simple, sturdy tabletop easel and I've been using it every day since.  I even take it to my workshops.  I couldn't live without it.

Since then, Brett designed an improved, snazzy version I call the Paint On Tabletop Easel.   Here's some photos and you can read what other artists said about theirs here.

 Had to mention the bottom ledge is flat.
I can't tell you how much I hate those grooves in other easels.

We sell the Paint On Tabletop Easel for $120 plus shipping (US only) and new ones are built
every couple of weeks.  You can find more details and info on this page including an
email link to us to notify you when one is available.

Brett also designed a useful tool we call the Paint On AlterEasel - for those who need to adapt their stand-up easel for painting smaller panels and canvases.   Here's a few photos...

We sell the Paint On AlterEasel for $100 plus shipping (US only) and new ones are built
every couple of weeks.  You can find more details and info on this page including an
email link to us to notify you when one is available.

Painting needs to be enjoyable and without the frustrating wobbling and dealing with panels falling off the easels.  A Zen experience.   These two easels make my painting time that much more fun and I just wanted to share these tools with you.

More to come ~