Showing posts from January, 2014

High chroma palette

I've been test driving some different palettes lately; trying to shake up old patterns of painting and discover new effects.  Most of my experiments have been in self portraiture because I enjoy seeing how much I can get away with in a face and still make it work.

This portrait was done with a 6 colour + white palette that I restricted to high chroma colours:

Cad red light
Alizarin permanent
Cad yellow pale
Cad yellow deep
Ultramarine blue
Cerulean blue

My white was flake white hue.  I like it for its thick texture and the fact that it doesn't corrupt colour as much as titanium does.  That allowed me to get good clean colour without chalkiness.  I still like titanium, but am aware of its limitations.

What I was trying to do was mix flesh tones that made sense but had no earth tones in them.  Convenience colours like raw umber and yellow ochre have their place, but they also impart a certain low-chroma look to paintings, and I was getting a bit tired of that look.  Not having…

Looking with peripheral vision

This replica of Degas' little dancer has been a prized, but never successfully painted, possession of mine since I bought her last spring.  I've tried to paint her a few times but each time I bailed when the figure got tight and too representational.  Having seen the original in the Met, I wanted to capture her attitude and the thrust of her pose, but not belabour the details.

This time, I caught her and I did it by not actually looking at her.  Using peripheral vision rather than staring right at the figure, I massed in general shapes, colours and values without any outlines to start.  In fact, the whole painting was done with this peripheral gaze.  Somehow it's easier to understand the complexity of a scene when you look indirectly; colour relationships, value, and shape all simplify and are perceived as a whole rather than as individual parts.  As soon as you look at the dancer directly, it's harder to see her in context because you stop looking at the scarf, the …