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Showing posts from May, 2013

Painting Metal

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Painting metal, like painting skin, seems to intimidate students but it's actually pretty easy and I think it's a lot of fun. I enjoyed the challenge of rendering the reflections and distortions across the surface of this brass pot because it was an exercise in simplification and colour modification.

The painting was about simplification because there were many more marks in the reflection than I put into the painting.  The most important thing to keep sight of was that I was trying to create a believable form, and the more reflections in the metal, the more the form broke apart and became hard to read as solid.  So I sacrificed some of the interesting little reflections in order that the pot felt like a single, rounded object.  By editing for the fewest, big shapes that I could, this became easy.  I could depict the surface as, essentially, a dark top and light bottom part with the reflection of the little square dish and a couple of the pearl onions in the middle.  Although…

Summer Colour

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Summer's here - or at least it's stopped snowing - and I'm looking back at some of the photos that I took at the beach last year.

This pose wouldn't usually strike my fancy because it's just one long vertical, devoid of interesting negative spaces, but the slight curve to the body and the answering reflection below the boy intrigued me, as did the challenge of painting the gauze of the net.

I pushed the colour of the boy's skin in the shadows, making it a very intense red-orange and that set the tone for the rest of the painting, allowing me to mix lots of vibrant colour in the water.

It's an optimistic painting: a return to the outdoors and the warmth of the sun after a really long winter.
Am I tempting fate?


Pigment Brands

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This is a limited palette painting - sort of.  I used the Zorn palette of yellow ochre, cad red light, ivory black and titanium white, but I added transparent red oxide without which I find it hard to start a painting.  It's the colour that I use to draw the initial composition and, with the addition of ultramarine blue, the initial shadow colour.

I've been experimenting with burnt sienna in the hopes that it would give me more robust coverage, but that proved a false road.   Transparent paints tend to be more powerful tinters than opaque or semi opaque pigments, and I found I was using a lot of burnt sienna in an attempt to replicate the strength of trans. red oxide.  It it ain't broke, don't fix it.

I use a variety of brands even within this limited palette because there's a surprising amount of colour variation even in something as simple as yellow ochre.   So my limited palette contains 3 different brands: M. Graham, Winsor Newton, and Lefranc and Bourgeois.

Dealing with Warm and Cool Colour

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I'm taking a break from still life in the studio for a while and mining some old photos for paintings.  If I go too long without painting a person, I get antsy and don't feel like I'm doing my best work.

This comes from a model painting session in which I achieved absolutely nothing, nada, bupkis (I was a bit frustrated; can you tell?) but got some great photos when our model walked through a series of graceful dance moves at the end of the session.

The challenge here was to create rich and varied dark skin colours and to capture the effect of light on them.
While most of the illumination was from north-facing windows and a couple of skylights, I'd added a warm, halogen flood light to create shadows.  The resulting warm/cool effect was beautiful, but tricky.

The solution was to use alizarin as my main red in the cool side and add a lot of cad red light and cad yellow deep into the flood-lit side.  As well, because the model's skin is already a warm colour, I cou…