Painting different textures & clean colours

Copper Plums

Just a quick painting in honour of the Victoria Plum. What a fruit? The crop this year is so great the tree is in jeopardy. God forbid! However, myself, the wasps and the birds are doing our best to relieve the situation.

Alla prima again. But it was 40 minutes before I could eat the models. Anyway, just a few interesting points about this painting. The copper kettle has a hard brittle surface, not like polished silver, more of a ‘brushed metal’ effect. The skin of the plums is like satin – no highlight. Both copper and plums are similar colour but texture is contrasting. The satin cloth is similar in texture to the plums but colourless. There is also the texture of the old wooden table top.

On a different matter there is another important painting subject which is rarely discussed these days – chroma. In practical terms its the ‘clarity’ of colours in a painting. The paints used by the artist are not like the colours used, for example, in photoshop. Mixing colours in a computer is a mathematical process. The resultant colour does not loose its intensity. Artists’ pigments when mixed, loose some of their intensity. A good example is mixing a blue and yellow to produce green. This green will look more natural in a landscape painting as opposed to the intense green straight from the tube. The more pigments in the mix the more towards mud the colour goes. To complicate the matter further, some pigments don’t mix well and ‘kill’ each other. The solution is simple. Keep the number of different pigments at an absolute minimum. My basic 3 are, Burnt Sienna (red), Yellow Ochre (yellow) and Cobalt Blue (blue). No matter what combination of the 3 are used the resultant mixes are always clean and natural for landscape. They mix well together. If the resultant colour mixes need to be pushed in a different direction a little pure colour can be added from a different pigment. An example, like the blue and yellow above, is the green produced by mixing Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue. If its a little dull (this green tends to be), adding small amounts of Viridian (a green bottle colour) makes a more ‘green’ green.

The most valuable result of this approach is being able to remember the resultant combinations because the number of different pigments is small. The more you paint the more you learn. You will remember that horrid green (Yellow Ochre and Cobalt Blue plus Pigment X) and will not use it again.

The next post will have the time lapse video of the above and more about the painting itself.


39 thoughts on “Painting different textures & clean colours

  1. Oh, I can’t thank you enough for this explanation about pigments and especially about green!!! I can’t wait to get the right colors to start with and try again, I’ve been hating my greens but not knowing what I was doing wrong! Thank you once again!

  2. Pingback: two pears, a raven and a whole heaven and earth of cake « alissa's art

  3. Thanks for liking my post “Interpreting a Photo”. I’ve tried to subscribe to your blog a couple of times but it doesn’t seem to show up under my subscriptions or come into my email. i’m kind of a “newbie” so maybe I’m doing something wrong.

    • Kathleen thank you for ‘trying to subscribe’. I’m also a ‘newbie’ so I don’t understand what’s going on. However, I will check it out and get back to you. Thanks again.

  4. Pingback: Year’s End – Time Lapse Video « PictureS

    • Thank you, and I hope you got some value from the blog. I’m not a teacher, nor am I retired (still in my prime 🙂 ), but I’m painting in oils for 40 years. Being self taught I’ve worked it out from scratch and am delighted to share my experiences with interested artists, especially beginners. I believe the process of painting is more important that the finished product – Yipee! for YouTube.

  5. Getting the right color in painting is probably the most frustrating part about it…as a writer it is comparable to finding the right words.

    I have often experienced the muddying when too many colors are blended…and am grateful for your tips.

    The painting in this post is exquisite, simple and pure but with textures and shadowing that convince the eye they are for touching and tasting. (The copper kettle is especially beautiful and true)

    Also, thank you so much for visiting my blog and liking my post ‘Fruit-fall-ness’.

    I look forward to catching up and visiting on your site too.

  6. Great post. You definitely know what you’re talking about PictureS.

    In trying to keep the oil colors vibrant (or high chroma, to refer to your article), like in more contemporary applications, I find the necessity to use tube greens and mix them with blue to cool and darken them, yellow to warm them, red to reduce their chroma, etc. I usually go Sap Green; it seems neutral and a Permanent Green Hue or something like that, when I need an opaque green; Sap Green can be very transparent like Viridian.

    • The effects of atmosphere on distant colours in landscape paintings requires reduced chroma. I can see why you need vibrant colours for vibrant paintings. Great work.

  7. thanks for visiting my blog. your observations on colour mixing for natural landscape colours are very interesting and useful. You write in a clear informative style. Good blog!

  8. Thanks for liking my post about “Fraudulent Art Painting” – I’m happy to know that your blog is here so that I can get info from someone who an actual artist – thanks!

  9. You’re absolutely right about landscape colours. Mixing naturally occurring colours do have the right tone you can’t always get from pure colours. Really enjoyed reading this and learned something too. Thanks.

  10. Pingback: Harmony in colours « PictureS

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