Daybreak, Summer

Daybreak, Summer

Daybreak, Summer

Daybreak, at this time of the year, is not a familiar sight. After all, its currently 5.30am and a month ago it was 4.30am. Unless you’re a night worker or insomniac, you will miss this natural spectacle. The colours are different from the orange reds of sunset and tend to be more pinks and purples.

The colour I find best for these pink shades is Alizarin Crimson. Its transparent and a reasonably good mixer with the other colours I use. In this morning sky there were pink and lemon colours. The yellow used was Cadmium Yellow. The difficulty was using these two very strong colours closely together without producing the brilliant orange you normally get when these are mixed. Orange colours are the sunset colours not the cool morning light.

Also the sky colours had to be the faintest hint of pink and yellow. Mixing these colours accurately at such low concentrations on the palette is difficult as its all relative to the colours in rest of the sky. I painted these two strong colours as raw unmixed solvent-only layers and allowed the solvent to evaporate. As I said previously, they were not allowed to mix as this would produce orange colours.

Pure white was painted on top and the paint was blended some of the Cadmium and Crimson began to mix with the white. The depth of colour was controlled by the brushing process – the more it was brushed the more colour was picked up from underneath, the deeper the colour. As I said its relative to the other colours in the sky, so the entire sky was painted as a single item so the emerging colours were seen as part of the whole.

Also notice that these two strong colours (Cadmium Yellow and Alizarin Crimson) were also spread over the entire painting surface. This was to unify the colour scheme and tie sky and ground together.

The painting is 18″ x 13″ and was completed in a single 2 and a half hour session. The colours used were Cadmium Yellow, Raw Umber, Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine plus black and white. I did not use any medium only the solvent, White Spirits.

Here’s the video, see you soon.


10 thoughts on “Daybreak, Summer

  1. This is one of my very favourite paintings. I especially love that patch of pink, but the whole composition is very balanced and atmospheric. I’m thinking of copying it – if you don’t mind. However, I might try an experiment and do a version in acrylics and one in oils. I don’t know if you ever work in acrylics? As a pretty fast painter I would imagine that aspect might suit acrylics, but I have a feeling I won’t be able to achieve the translucency and glow that you have here.
    Also, is the trend away from using black in your more recent paintings a new development? Is there a reason?
    Keep up the great work. You are an inspiration.

    • Thank you David. I’d be delighted if you painted your version of this scene. I hope the video is a help. I have tried Acrylics, its a long time ago now, and found they lacked something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. At the moment I’m using black again after experimenting without it for a while (for more on this see my reply in the “January” post).

  2. Once again, many thanks for taking the trouble to reply. I’d forgotten I’d asked the question about blacks elsewhere! Since writing, I have done a version in acrylics. It turned out OK (will try and get pictures up when I’ve done both), but you know, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. This is another attempt to get into them and give them a fair chance. So many people rate them that there must be something in it? I sort of know what you mean, but I think what I’ve realised is that if you take them on their own terms they are great for some things, but I’m less keen on the consistency, the opaque result and the feeling of panic that I have to work too quickly – even for me – before they start to “set.” I could use the stay-wet-palette, but I’m not keen on that either. I think it will remain as mostly watercolours and oils for me.

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