Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Zorn palette

Tanned Model
16 x 12
I got together with good friends last week for an afternoon of challenging painting.  We were all using a Zorn palette - a subtle, greyed palette made famous when the 19th century Swedish artist, Anders Zorn, used of it to convey the cool tones of his world.  

The palette uses cad red light or medium, yellow ochre, ivory black, and white.  It's great for conveying powerful reds and strong darks, but don't ask for a spring green or a blue, summer sky.  Ivory black acts like a blue in this scheme, but it's more like the illusion of blue, than the colour itself.  Add to this the fact that all of the pigments are opaque and prone to making mud, and you can see that it really was a challenge.

Our model had a deep tan and was under warm lights in a white-walled studio.  That meant that we had to mix an array of orange from light to dark and warm to cool to show the planes of her body, as well as figure out how to paint the effect of the cool wall colour reflecting off the areas of skin that weren't under the lights.  Her chest was still very warm from the tan, but cool on top of that from the walls.  It was a mind bender.  

I chose to drape a greyed purple over a coolish version of her flesh colour to show the reflected walls, and I pumped as much warm orange and red into the light as I could. 



 It did the job, but I'm going to study Zorn's work this week to see how I could have done it differently.  I can't recall a single tanned model in his pale roster, but I'm sure to learn something anyway, and I'll be building some colour skills.

Happy painting!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

3-Day Workshop in Kelowna, BC

Composition to Completion

June 21 - 23, 2019
Ellis Art Studios
Kelowna, BC



After years of teaching strictly from life, I've finally figured out how to teach from photo references! This is no small thing! (Hence the extravagant punctuation). 

Photos are tricky because they have enough detail to lull painters into thinking they can work from them.  Invariably, though, the artist will end up staring intently at the photo, trying to imagine what colours could exist in those uninformative shadows and bleached lights, and wondering where all the midtones have gone.  We long for an interesting composition, but struggle to shape one from the camera's limited and monocular view.  

Through long trial and error in my own work, I've come up with strategies to overcome these limitations. 

I'll be teaching a 3 day workshop at Ellis Art Studios that tackles the photo reference head on, covering everything from composition and colour to alla prima paint application.  It's a comprehensive workshop that will use each artist's own photos, and turn them into paintings that are based on the reference but go far beyond it to become personal interpretations.  

I hope you'll join me.

This workshop is suitable for oil and acrylic painters.  My demos will be in oil

For details and registration, see Ellis Art Studios.