My Limited Palette

In response to Roberts comment in the previous post.

Here is a list of colors, by season, that you have painted. I mentioned this topic in a YT comment. Do you agree that these colors work for you by season are do you keep a different list? I am getting back into painting with oils again and am deciding what colors to use.

Fall:
Late Harvest: Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, Cobalt Blue
Golden Pond: Cadmium Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue
Shortcut: Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue

Winter:
Winter Blue: Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue
Winter Marsh: Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue
Winter Woodland: Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue (4 colors)

Spring:
Sprint Light: Winsor Lemon, Burnt Sienna, Prussian Blue
Spring Sunshine: Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue
Spring Grazing: Indian Yellow, Permanent Rose, Cobalt Blue

Summer:
Summer in April: Cadmium Yellow, Indian Red, Cobalt Blue
Early Summer: Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue
Summer Afternoon: Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue

IMG_0725The above is one of a series of experiments I conducted to see the effects produced by different primary colours with regard to an overall colour flavour. Three primaries (red, yellow, blue) were placed in a circle and spread and mixed. After many such tests the differences were not telling me much. The secondary and tertiary colours are where the differences are most significant especially when mixed with white. Even with as few as three colours the variations are enormous.

One of the advantages of a limited palette is it allows me to remember the colours produced by a particular set of primaries. Another significant factor is how pigments interact. For example, two similar blues each mixed with a yellow will produce very different greens. Also you get results which are not expected such as mixing a yellow, such as Yellow Ochre, with Ivory Black will produce a series of subtle greens. In this case black is behaving like a blue but not all blacks produce this effect. In Photoshop (a digital image computer programme) adding black to a colour similar to Yellow Ochre will produce a darkened version of this yellow – not a green colour. Remember you are mixing ground earth (Yellow Ochre) with ground charred bones (Ivory Black) when dealing with paint.

Occasionally I will add another colour to the basic three primaries. This is when a particular secondary, such as a green, is not produced by the primary yellow and blue. A similar case can be seen in the painting below. Here the primaries Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna (red) and Cobalt Blue are used. The muted greens are an essential part of this scene but I also wanted a particular shade of purple which Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue would not produce. I remember this from previous paintings. So Dioxazine Purple was added as a fourth colour. Here is the painting:

In the painting below the colours are: Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue. Vibrant greens and purples – no need for an additional secondary – green or purple.

So to answer Robert, I don’t have a particular set of colours based on seasonal colours. The selected colours are based on what I am trying to achieve in a particular painting. I am aware of paintings which are very different and from different seasons, painted with the same colours. I cannot recollect them at the moment but they are there somewhere (try searching my  YouTube Channel if you are interested).

Any further questions I will be happy to answer.

To view the above videos in realtime change speed setting in YouTube to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD.

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Summer Storms

Summer Storms

This painting uses only 3 colours (Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

To view in realtime change setting to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD.

Inlet

Inlet

Spring is here.

The sunlit portion of the far riverbank (one third distance in from the right hand side) is where all journeys into this scene end. I concealed it behind the foliage of the small tree to add more mystery and interest.

To reinforce this point of interest I created 2 sunbeams spotlighting this area. But the principal device leading the eye towards the sunlit riverbank are a series of noticeable colours on the left foreground riverbank. Starting in the lower left corner with purple (from the underpainting), next the lighter green highlights, then a few spots of crimson (also from the underpainting) lead to the orange and across the water to the point of interest.

Hopefully this adds a little interest to an uneventful traditional scene.

This painting uses only 3 colours (Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 16.5″ x 12″ and was painted in a single ‘wet on wet’ session in about 2 hours.

Here is the video of the painting process. Using the YouTube settings, on the bottom bar on the screen, the speed can be changed. The standard speed is 4x and the video lasts about 30 minutes. To view in realtime change setting to .25. This is about 2 hours. My favourite is the fastest setting, 2. This is a snappy 8 minutes. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD.

Spring Sunshine

Spring Sunshine

Spring Sunshine

There is a noticeable brightness, spring is here.

This painting is a celebration of the return of bright days. The composition and general design follows the classical format, drawing the viewer into the painting along enticing visual paths disguised as part of this natural landscape. I added a few paths to bring the viewer back to explore more. But before this, the sky had to be formulated.

The sky had a number of functions to fulfil. Firstly, it set the mood of the scene. A fresh lively day and an inviting landscape to explore. Added layer by layer, each blended into the previous, there was no definite plan. I knew the final focus in the painting was going to be on the left side, with the sunlit trees, approximately one third of the width in from the edge. So to bring a balance on the right side, the sky needed activity in this area. This was achieved by having a general absence of yellow in the sky, and using it noticeably on the clouds to echo the sun lit trees which would be painted later.

The viewer stands in shadow and is drawn to the light. You can follow the river, starting at the left, to discover the distant mountains and their smoky blue colour. This translucent layer was applied as a solvent rich paint and is so delicate its not noticed until the viewer arrives here. Another route into the scene is on the right side, through the open gate and turning left across the river into the sunlit trees. Or you can travel along either bank of the river to reach the rich farming lands.

Notice the small trees on the extreme left and right sides. I use these like bookends to keep the composition contained. As I mentioned earlier the focus of the painting is the trees on the one-third position on the left. The one-third position on the right is where the river and shaft of light intersect helping to balance the composition.

This painting uses only 3 colours (Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits.

I made much use of the transparent under colour in this painting. The line of the far bank of the river is the blue left uncovered and is glowing in the shadows. The foreground shadow of dark green has a lot of the crimson under colour coming through. These shadow areas can be overly heavy and adding lighter shades will destroy the richness of transparent shadow colour. To see these details click on the picture above to see an enlarged version.

The size is 16.5″ x 12″ and was painted in a single ‘wet on wet’ session in about 2 hours.

Here is the video of the painting process. To view in realtime change speed setting to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD. See you soon.

Morning Mist

 

Morning Mist

Morning Mist

These mornings are deceptively cold. The warm sky colours of dawn has the landscape glowing. In the woods an icy blue mist sits on the pond.

This week instead of colours and the application of paint I will say a little about the planning and design in this painting. As usual this starts as a general plan which is constantly changing as the painting progresses. The under colours, opposite of the final colours, mark out the general shapes.

From the start the open gate was going to be the entrance into this scene. I was manipulating the sky shapes to subtly lead the eye into the opening. See how many lines of colour point the way through this open gate. Foreground plough ridges and pathway also lead the eye in. In the sky I was also trying to keep warm and cool colours playing against each other without a noticeable divide between them. Neutral grey was used to separate the warms and cools. In the early stages the opening and gate was marked with a heavy blob of paint to remind me where it would be. This is on the ‘one third in from the edge’ position, the recommended centre of interest in landscape painting, but I always try and disguise obvious construction elements. This I will do later.

Of course there is the danger of an unbalanced composition with all this activity on the right hand side. To balance the composition I used strong bright sky colour, just above the horizon, extending to the left. I introduced this colour very early in the painting and continued to add raw yellow and white to intensify the colour. The colour is blurred into the distance to give further ‘weight’ to the left.

Finally the trees were added like weights to balance the left and right hand sides. The tallest and heaviest tree is on the left of the two in the centre. Its a little inside the ‘one third’, from the left, as the other tree is a little inside the ‘one third’ from the right. So the ‘one third’ rule is applied to create a balance but using it twice makes it less obvious.

I have to be careful not to overwork. Sometimes ‘mistakes’ I was about to correct, but didn’t, seem not so noticeable after a few days. Other times ‘mistakes’ add interest. After moving around the scene adding or painting out details, I stop when the overall design and composition seems to be right.

There are 3 colours used (Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 16.5″ x 12″. The painting time was about 2 hours, in a single ‘wet on wet’ session.

Here is the video of the process. To view in realtime change speed setting to .25. Quality can also be set up to 1080HD.

Year’s End

Year's End

Year’s End

A little bit of frost remains on the grass as a warm front moves in.

One of the most frequent requests I get is to upload a ‘realtime’ video of the painting process. This was technically impossible for me because of the file sizes involved and my broadband was not good.

Recently my broadband capacity got a boost and I can now upload much bigger files. The video I uploaded in this post can be slowed down to the ‘realtime’ speed using the YouTube settings. By doing it like this the file size is still 25% of an actual realtime file but the movement is a bit blurred. Needless to say, the speed can also be increased to my previous setting.

Also remember the viewing quality can be maxed up to 1080HD in the same settings (All this depends on your broadband speeds).

Please excuse the missing start of the painting. In my experimenting, I ‘lost’ the first part of the painting video.

This painting uses only 3 colours (Indian Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Prussian Blue) plus black and white. There is no medium used, only White Spirits. The size is 16.5″ x 12″.

Here’s the video. See you soon.

Blackthorn Hedge

Blackthorn Hedge

Blackthorn Hedge

A few recent frosty nights has denuded this row of blackthorn trees and left them in a decidedly ragged state.

Most of this painting is composed of transparent shadow colours. I’m using Liquin medium in a lot of solvent to achieve the transparent effect. I would like to use solvent only in these layers for the ease of overpainting trees and leaves later on. But the solvent on its own does not form a paint film and seems to wash the paint into the weave of the canvas, exaggerating the texture.

24 hours later the painting is dry (remember I use some Alkyd fast drying paints) and very dull. A day later I will ‘oil out’ and the colours will return to their original glory.

The size is 18.5″ x 16″ and was painted in a single session of about 3 hours. The colours used are Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Dioxozine Purple, Ultramarine Blue plus black and white. The medium is Liquin and White Spirits.

Here’s the video of the process. See you soon.