Thursday, July 26, 2012

Daniel E Greene palette

From the excellent Underpaintings


MAIN COLORS (outer edge)

1. Flake White*
2. Ivory Black
3. Prussian Blue
4. Raw Sienna
5. Yellow Ochre
6. Naples Yellow
7. Cadmium Yellow Medium
8. Cadmium Red Light
9. Alizarin Crimson
10. Burnt Sienna
11. Raw Umber
12. Burnt Umber
13. Sap Green
14. Pthalo Green

* Greene advises choosing a white that best suits the needs of the artist and the painting.  According to him, whites should be considered either slow-drying (like Zinc White) or fast-drying (Flake White).  Greene uses Flake White (Lead Carbonate) because it dries rapidly and leaves crisp brushstrokes, but to many artists, Flake White is too stiff for comfortable use.  To these artists, Greene recommends adding another white, such as Zinc, Titanium, or Permalba®, to the Flake White (¾ Flake White + ¼ other white).  This mixture will be easier to manipulate.

SKIN-TONE TINTS (color strings - center of palette)

A. Raw Sienna + Cadmium Red Light + White
Add just enough Raw Sienna to the Cadmium Red Light to dull the latter, then add White in steps to create a value string.  These middle tones and lights are useful in cheeks, mouth, chin, ears, etc..
B. Yellow Ochre + White
Add White to Yellow Ochre to create a value string.  The lightest two tints are often used as highlights on the forehead and nose.
C. Yellow Ochre + Burnt Sienna + White
Mix Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna together with this understanding:  too much Burnt Sienna will produce a color which too closely resembles the mixture of Burnt Sienna and White;  too little Burnt Sienna will too closely resemble Yellow Ochre and White.  Find the perfect balance.
D. Burnt Sienna + White
Add White to Burnt Sienna in steps to create a value string.  This mixture is not often used.
E. Raw Umber + White
Add White to Raw Umber in steps to create a value string.  Though the darker tints might be used as shadows, the middle tones and lights are intended for use as "cool" skin tones.
F. Raw Sienna + Black + White
Mix ⅔ Black with ⅓ Raw Sienna, then add White in steps to create a value string.

SHADOW TONES (lower right)

S1. Alizarin Crimson + Sap Green
Mix Alizarin Crimson with very little Sap Green to make a dark reddish brown.  Add Cadmium Yellow Medium in steps to create a value string.
S2. Sap Green + Alizarin Crimson
To Sap Green add a little Alizarin Crimson to create a dark greenish brown (Sepia).  Add Cadmium Yellow Medium in steps to create a value string.
(These four colors are based on those used by 17th c. Dutch Artists)
a. Raw Umber + Yellow Ochre
Mix very little Yellow Ochre with Raw Umber so that the latter is slightly lightened.
b. Raw Umber + Yellow Ochre + Yellow Ochre
Add more Yellow Ochre to the previous mixture to lighten it another value step.
c. Raw Umber + Yellow Ochre + Burnt Sienna
Create a mixture where all three colors are distributed equally (i.e. ⅓ Raw Umber, ⅓ Yellow Ochre, and ⅓ Burnt Sienna).
d. Raw Umber + Yellow Ochre + Burnt Sienna + Yellow Ochre
To the previous mixture, add more Yellow Ochre so that the amount of Yellow Ochre has been doubled  (i.e. ¼ Raw Umber, ¼ Burnt Sienna, and ½ Yellow Ochre)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yael Scalia palette

LG: Your paintings have a remarkable feeling of light and air, clarity and restraint of tone that make for rich color harmonies. Can you tell us something about your approach to finding the right colors in your paintings. Do you use a particular palette of colors?

YS: My painting teacher was a demanding tyrant when it came to color mixing, and that was helpful! I still use pretty much the same palette I used when I first started painting, with a few additions over the years:
Cremnitz white,
raw umber,
ultramarine blue,
cobalt blue,
quinacridone blue, [???]
burnt sienna,
lemon yellow,
cadmium yellow,
Indian yellow,
cadmium orange,
cadmium or other warm green,
Veronese green,
vert Aubusson or pthalo green,
a purple,
cadmium red,
alizarin crimson.

Alex Kanevsky palette

from Catherine Kehoe's PowersOfObservation

Here is the short list of what I actually use every day
in no particular order:
raw umber
raw sienna
vermilion red
cadmium yellow
cadmium orange
ultramarine blue
cerulean blue (french)
cobalt blue
titanium white
titanium buff
alizarin crimson
viridian green
sap green
cinnabar green
naples yellow
transparent oxide brown (several different ones)
permanent madder brown
royal blue light
naples yellow red
vandyke brown
I don't place them in any particular order on the palette.
Whatever ends up in my hand goes on next.
paints are made by Rembrandt, Mussini, Triangle Coatings,
Art Guerra, Williamsburg.
I like to use Raphael
brushes - both synthetic and bristle brights.
Also cheap Chinese flat 2" and 3" brushes.
Liquin is the

Israel Hershberg's Palette

Cremnitz White - Old Holland (only)
Lemon Yellow
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Indian Yellow - Michael Harding
Cadmium Orange Light
Cadmium Red Light
Alizarin Crimson
Burnt Siena
Raw Umber
Windsor Violet - Windsor &  Newton
Provence Violet Bluish - Williamsburg
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalocyanine Blue Lake - Michael Harding
Vert Aubusson - Lefranc & Bourgeois
Veronese Green - Lefranc & Bourgeois
Cadmium Green
Cadmium Green Light

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tony Ryder workshop palette list

From Underpaintings

Recommended, especially for beginners, in boldface.
  • Titanium White*
  • Flake White
  • Zinc White
  • Brilliant Yellow Light
  • Naples Yellow (Winsor & Newton)
  • Naples Yellow Green (Rembrandt)
  • Naples Yellow Red (Rembrandt)
  • Naples Yellow Light*
  • Jaune Brilliant* (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cadmium Lemon Yellow*
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium*
  • Cadmium Orange*
  • Cadmium Red Medium*
  • Brilliant Pink* (Old Holland)
  • Alizarin Crimson Permanent* (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cobalt Violet or Cobalt Violet Light*
  • Cobalt Violet Deep
  • Ultramarine Violet*
  • Cobalt Blue*
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • King's Blue
  • Cerulean Blue*
  • Phthalocyanine Blue
  • Phthalocyanine Green
  • Cobalt Turquoise
  • Viridian*
  • Chrome Oxide Green*
  • Cadmium Green Light
  • Bohemian Green Earth (Schminke-Mussini)
  • Sap Green*
  • Cinnabar Green
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Raw Sienna*
  • Mars Brown
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Flesh Ochre (Old Holland)
  • Mars Violet
  • Deep Ochre* (Old Holland)
  • Raw Umber*
  • Burnt Umber*
  • Payne's Gray
  • Ivory Black*
(Currently, Ryder is recommending Old Holland Ochre and Transparent Brown Oxide in addition to the colors listed.  Lead White [Flake or Cremnitz], Naples Yellow, King's Blue, and Phthalocyanine Green have also joined the status of recommended colors.  This makes for 27 suggested colors).

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dan Thompson Damn The Torpedoes Palette

Class notes, Spring 2010.
It starts with cold violets & goes through the color wheel to end up with warm violets.

1) Quinacridone Magenta
2) Permanent Magenta
3) Dioxazine Purple
4) Old Holland Ultramarine Blue Deep
5) Gamblin Cerulean Hue
6) Phthalo Turquoise
7) WN Winsor Emerald
8) Permanent Green Light
9) WN Cadmium Green Pale
10) Old Holland Cadmium Yellow Light
11) WN Indian Yellow
12) Old Holland Cadmium Yellow Deep
13) WN Gold Ochre or Yellow Ochre Pale
14) Raw Sienna--not Gamblin. Blockx "Italian Earth" is ideal.
15) Old Holland Cadmium Yellow Extra Deep
16) Mars Orange (Maimeri Puro, Blockx)
17) Burnt Sienna/Burnt Sienna Deep/Quinacridone Maroon/Quinacridone Brown
18) Old Holland Cadmium Orange
19) Venetian Red/Pompeii Red
20) Napthol Red (instead of Cad Red)
21) Perylene Red
22) Anthraquinone Red (PR177)/Old Holland Burgundy Wine Red (instead of Aliz Crimson)
23) WN Permanent Rose
24) WN Mars Violet Deep
25) The Great Off Note--yesterday's paint scraped off and mixed together
26) Raw Umber (Gamblin fine)

try also: Gamblin Manganese violets, any other violets

Monday, February 22, 2010

watercolor & silverpoint by Stephen Scott Young

Silverpoint: "[...]Because the silver will only register on a surface covered with traditional gesso, casein, or gouache, it is impossible to erase the metallic lines. Even trying to cover up stray lines winds up making the prepared surface looked patched. Most of Young's silverpoint drawings were done on sheets of Fabriano Uno paper coated with traditional gesso (a warm mixture of powdered whiting and rabbit-skin glue).
"The artist spent hundreds of hours developing the small drawings (no larger than 14" x 10") by laying down slightly tilted parallel lines in one direction, and then in another direction so as to create diamond or triangular shapes where the hatched lines crossed. In some places he also added stippled dots and horizontal lines to create a rich dark gray. Silverpoint does not allow for the kinds of deep blacks one can achieve with graphite or charcoal.

 "His palette was limited to Winsor red, Winsor yellow, ultramarine blue, and white casein paint, which differs from the one he uses to paint the black citizens of the Bahamian island of Eleuthera (where he maintains one of three studios). For those paintings, he uses are painted with French ultramarine, burnt sienna, yellow ochre, brown madder, and white casein paint.

"His watercolor technique, which frequently makes use of drybrush, is self-taught, and based on his admiration for artists like Winslow Homer, Andrew Wyeth, and Thomas Eakins.

watercolor limited palettes:
Winsor red,
Winsor yellow,
ultramarine blue,
and white casein
French ultramarine,
burnt sienna,
yellow ochre,
brown madder,
and white casein

Thursday, February 18, 2010

long flat mongoose brush

[Tony] Pro has recently reported, however, that he, Lipking, and Weistling have found a substitute brush which holds up much better than the Langnickel 5590. All three have switched to brushes made by Rosemary & Co., a small, family-run business located in Great Britain, where all the work is still done by hand. Rosemary's series 279, which is a long, flat, Mongoose hair brush, seems to be the closest to the Langnickel 5590, though Pro also uses and recommends the company's Mongoose brights and filberts.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Photographing Artwork

My studio lighting isn't perfect, but it's adequate. I have eight 6500K fluorescent tubes, and track lighting with six halogen bulbs. None of the halogen bulbs are pointed directly at the canvas, because they have too much color. (Even the "color corrected bulbs") They're pointed at walls and ceilings to add warmth to the otherwise very cool fluorescent ambient lighting, thus balancing the temperature.

And in this light I paint, and shoot my smaller works. I don't shoot the big canvases in this light because it's not even enough. The big ones are shot outside in open shade or under an overcast sky. Overcast is preferable because the light is more neutral than open shade on a sunny day, where the light source is the blue sky; the light tends to be pretty blue. But here in California, we don't always have overcast skies so I just have to make do.

A good digital camera is a good start. Preferably one that has a white balance setting, where you can adjust the color temperature according to the type of lighting you have; fluorescent, tungsten, open shade, overcast, sunlight, etc. Whether I'm shooting my paintings inside or out, I try a bunch of different white balance settings to find which one comes closest to accurate color. I often move my painting around, trying different spots around the house, inside and out. Hey it's digital so it's not like you're wasting film. I just delete the dozen shots that I don't want.

So White Balance Setting is one convenient tool. But that doesn't address the glare on the surface of the canvas. If you are using a digital SLR, a good investment is a polarizing filter. This filter can cut down the glare considerably. It doesn't have to cost a whole lot, either. Mine is a Hoya and I paid twenty something dollars. Totally worth it.

If you're not using a SLR, there's still the biggest trick in the bag; shoot your painting at an angle so that you minimize glare, and use the perspective crop tool in Photoshop to straighten it out. This is probably the most effective way to eliminate glare, short of professional copy photo set up. But make sure the angle is no more than absolutely necessary, because you are essentially creating uneven distances between your camera and the painting, and that means uneven focus. Not good. You can remedy this a little bit by standing back a ways and using a zoom lens, and a small aperture, but if you're adept at adjusting the aperture on your camera, you probably don't need tips from an amateur like me.

So that's how I deal with glare. Now, color accuracy is quite another matter. The aforementioned color balance setting is a great tool, but it's not perfect. Sometimes you get very accurate colors, other times, you can only get so close. Often I need to rely on Photoshop to do my color correction. But the fact is, the more accurate an image you start out with, the easier it is to achieve the end result. So if there's anything you can do to get a good starting image, that's a huge plus.

You probably know that when pros do it, they use a color strip to ensure all the colors come out accurately. You can do the same by painting a strip of cardboard with different colors (just use tube colors you already have on the palette, plus white and black), and make sure it's visible in your viewfinder. Your digital image now has the color range information. Take this image into Photoshop and before you perspective-crop it out, try auto-adjusting levels, color and contrast. ( Image->Adjustments->Auto Levels, etc.) Usually, this puts the image in the right direction, but more often than not it's too much. So I first copy the original layer, then apply the adjustment on the top layer, then adjust the transparency of the top layer so that the adjustment isn't so drastic. After you're satisfied, flatten the layers back into one.

Only after this adjustment do I perform the perspective-crop. See for yourself what Auto Levels does with and without the color strip in the picture. The difference can be pretty significant.

If the image is still not there, the next thing I try is to fiddle with color balance. (Image->Adjustments->Color Balance). I don't usually have problems with my photos coming out with colors too saturated, but if I do, use the hue/saturation control. (Image->Adjustments->Hue/Saturation). If that still doesn't give you reasonably accurate color, it's time to go back and reshoot your painting under different (hopefully better) lighting conditions and try again.

There are tons of other tools in Photoshop, and an advanced user can manipulate curves and such to get the accurate colors, but for most color corrections, having a color strip, adjusting levels, color balance, and hue/saturation, together with perspective crop, will do the trick.

Lastly, I can't stress enough the importance of NOT doctoring up your digital image to make it look BETTER than your painting. Don't do that. You're only cheating yourself. Color correction should be used to make the image as accurate as possible, not to fake out judges to enter competitions, make a sale online, or to gain gallery representation. That's just outright fraud and it ain't Kosher, to say the least.

If I think of other photo tips, I will mention it in a future post.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Luc Tuymans

“Luc’s small paintings control big spaces, and his paint strokes all connect,” said the realist painter Alex Katz, a longtime fan. “They relate as much to each other as they do to the subject.”

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dan Dos Santos Palette

Titanium White (Winton)
Alizarin Crimson (Winsor & Newton)
Cadmium Red Medium (Rembrandt)
Cadmium Yellow Medium (Rembrandt)
Cadmium Orange Medium (Rembrandt)
Yellow Ochre Light (Rembrandt)
Yellow Ochre (Rembrandt)
Transparent Red Oxide (Rembrandt)
Burnt Umber (Rembrandt)
Yellow Green (Rembrandt)
Sap Green (Rembrandt)
Cerulean Blue (Rembrandt)
Ultramarine Blue (Rembrandt)
Raw Umber (Rembrandt)
Ivory Black (Rembrandt)

Naples Yellow Light (Rembrandt)
Indian Yellow (Winsor & Newton)
Ultramarine Violet (Rembrandt)

1 part Cold Pressed Linseed Oil
1 part Odorless Turpenoid
few drops Cobalt Drier

1 3/4" Bristle Flat
1" Sable Wash Flat
#20 Kolinsky Sable Round
#4 Badger Fan
#2 Bristle Fan
#14 Synthetic Filbert
#8 Synthetic Filbert
#4 Synthetic Filbert
#2 Synthetic Filbert
#1 Synthetic Filbert
#1 Synthetic Liner

Sunday, January 31, 2010



studio lighting

natural light

artificial light 
(making lightbox 'window' for winter)

Preparing copper for oil painting

Sand the surface with fine grit sandpaper in a circular motion, until the surface is matt. It should be well cleaned and degreased with denatured alcohol. Do NOT touch the cleaned copper surface, or your fingerprints will show up through your paint layers! After cleaning, the surface should be rubbed with garlic cloves, or better perhaps, the juice of crushed garlics, which could be brushed on and allow to dry. The acidic juice of garlic etches the copper surface and aid bonding of oil paint. You can start painting on copper directly, or, if preferred, on a thin layer of lead white. Always use a lead white bound in linseed oil for this. I rub it on the surface with the palm of my hand, wearing Nitrile gloves. I let it dry for a week, and apply another thin layer, this time using a blend of lead white, a bit of titanium and chalk. I also add a small amount of medium to this, made from 1 part balsam and 2 parts sun thickened oil. Again, I rub it onto the surface, then blend it with a large soft brush. The surface will be smooth. If you feel the need, you can sand it afterwards with very fine grit sandpaper, but be very careful; inhaling lead dust is VERY poisonous! Always wet-sand, but use oil instead of water. Wipe the surface dry and clean with a rag. I prefer to use another, ancient method; I scrape the surface after a few days of drying. I use a glass plate for this. The result is a very smooth surface. You probably need to scrape just one single time in one direction, it's quick, clean and perfect.

odd nerdrum's materials

1. The Canvas:
Odd uses a very heavy herringbone weave linen. This is not the secret to his texture, but it is incredibly durable and invaluable for his technique.
2. The Ground:
You can see the color and value in this image. This is very important, as this ground is like nothing I've ever painted on before. We mix the Blanc de Meudon with refined linseed oil (until it's the consistency of thick cake batter) and of course any pigment you like. Odd uses trans red oxide (or burnt sienna) and a little mars black to neutralize the color. But he also sometimes mixes mars black and yellow ochre to produce a nice green ground. You apply it straight to the canvas that has been sized with rabbit skin glue (or PVA sizing for an alternative) with a large palette knife. Scraping it smooth. Let that dry for two or three days and repeat. 2 or 3 layers should be fine. Essentially, gesso is a cheaper replacement for this. Gesso is chalk suspended in oil, but the stuff that you buy in the stores is not ground as finely, nor is it as absorbent as blanc de Meudon. I got it in Paris. I'll look into it and see if it's called by another name in the states. I'm sure someone has it.
It is composed of a very fine chalk and refined linseed oil. He, of course, uses the finest of both. But I have found that the chalk is more important than the linseed oil, so since I'm on a budget, I go for the good chalk and use merely decent refined linseed oil as opposed to the stuff that he uses, which he has specially made for him.
Blanc de meudon is composed of particles of calcium carbonate, also called Spanish white. It is the main component of limestone and chalk.
3. Brushes:
Odd uses anything and everything can find. So, there's little I can tell you here. He tends to like cheap brushes, but keeps a few nicer ones around.

4. The Palette:
Sennelier Titanium white
Mars yellow + white
Old Holland Brilliant Yellow
Old Holland Mars Yellow
Vermillion + Mars Yellow
Sennelier Chinese vermilion
Mars Black + white
Black + yellow
Old Holland Deep Ochre
Old Holland Mars Black]

Take note of the pre-mixed colors. He has chosen these specific values and tubed the mixtures in order to make modeling flesh faster and easier. This is one thing (as well as great skill and years of experience) that enables him to mix color right on the canvas as he goes without mixing on his palette.

The palette alone is also not the trick to great flesh tones. It has to do with nuances created in the process of painting between the palette, application of broken color, textural variations, and subtle layers of semi-opaques, glazes, velaturas, semi-transparents, etc... which makes the flesh look luminous, semi-transparent, and thus: lifelike and beautiful.


Odd, like all masters old and new, understands two different modes of temperature in painting flesh: local temperature and form temperature. Form temperature, I've detailed in the above link. As far as local temperature is concerned, a great example are the ear lobes, nostrils, hands, toes, and cheeks. The color of the flesh in these places tends to be warmer as blood vessels approach the surface of the skin. Conversely, in areas such as the forehead, where there is very little between the skin and bone, the color tends to be cooler in temperature. Take note of these while painting and you will notice a tremendous difference.
As if that wasn't enough to keep track of, Odd also uses another means of color shift on a large scale for both compositional, and illuminatory purposes. This is loosely based on optics, but is greatly exaggerated to exquisite effect. It's quite an interesting and beautiful concept: as light gets farther from the source it scales through the spectrum from yellow, closest to the light source, to orange, red, violet, and all the way to blue or sometimes green. You can see this particularly in his void paintings.

Now this is a general rule of thumb. If you look closely, he breaks and bends it all the time. Also, he takes into account local shifts in color and temperature as well as form shifts in color and temperature. Furthermore, there are changes in chroma related to the light, the angle of the planes of the form, local temperature and chromatic shifts in the skin, and some changes made purely for compositional purposes. As he moves into the shadow the color becomes cooler and more neutral.

5. The Medium:
It's actually quite simple. Like Rembrandt did, Odd uses primarily refined linseed oil which he lets stand in a jar... so it becomes essentially stand oil. That, mixed in various percentages with turpentine (he tends not to be particular about it), becomes a versatile medium.

sargent's painting notes

Painting is an interpretation of tone.

...Keep the planes free and simple, drawing a full brush down the whole contour of a cheek.

...Always paint one thing into another and not side by side until they touch.

...The thicker your paint—the more your color flows.

...Simplify, omit all but the most essential elements—values, especially the values. You must clarify the values.

...The secret of painting is in the half tone of each plane, in economizing the accents and in the handling of the lights.

...You begin with the middle tones and work up from it .... so that you deal last with your lightest lights and darkest darks, you avoid false accents.

...Paint in all the half tones and the generalized passages quite thick.

...It is impossible for a painter to try to repaint a head where the understructure was wrong.

Flake White
Naples Yellow
Yellow Ochre
English Red
Ivory Black
Prussian Blue

Margaret Carter Baumgaertner palette

Tube Paints 
Top Row On Palette: 
Cadmium Yellow
Cadmium Orange
Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium Red
Quinacridone Rose
Alizarin Crimson
Dioxizine Purple (M Graham)
Cadmium Green Pale (W/N)
Permanent Green Light (W/N)
Sap Green
Kings Blue - Rembrandt
Cerulean Blue
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Ivory Black


Second Row On Palette:
Stil De Grain Yellow - Rembrandt
Yellow Ochre - Mussini Attish light ochre
Gold Ochre
English Red - (W/N)
Caput Mortum Violet - Rembrandt
Titanium White

Margaret's approach for this portrait in her video is to establish the light side and shadow side with a single color and value and then work on top of that rather than mixing on her palette.

Light Side - foundation: Cad Yellow and a touch of white (Or yellow ochre)

Shadow Side - foundation: Dioxazine Purple w/ white

Then, she adds/layers in cadmium scarlet wet into wet on each side to establish her basic flesh color.

Dani Dawson (an amazing colorist and outstanding painter) was just reviewing the same concept with me: Working the shadows using the colorist approach of establishing the Dioxazine Purple first followed by the other shadow colors (For example - Cad green pale, cad red light, cerulean blue). Following this colorist approach, paintings take on a wonderful pearly feeling in the skin.

Margaret also shows a perfect colorist exercise which is a great lesson for beginning portraiture. Lay out all of the following colors in 3x3 inch blocks next to each other (with a touch of white in each). When you're done - step back and see that they work together as one "color" like a pointillist painting because they are all the same value. Take a moment to really see the overall look of the many colors in a flesh tone.

Alizarin crimson & cadmium yellow light
Yellow Ochre
Quinocridone rose w/ permanent green light
Cadmium scarlet
Dioxazine purple
Cadmium Orange
Ivory black

Saturday, January 30, 2010

landscape workshop

"[Sara] also has a "keep it simple" approach to beginning a landscape painting and provided the following challenge to her students. Finish a small 5x7 painting with either a 3/4 inch flat brush (or palette knife) in 50 strokes or less.

"Below, I've provided a summery of my own interpretation of her guidelines during the demonstration. Of course, this may be my own view of her words colored by my own background. So, to reach into the mind of Sara directly, visit her website where sara shares some great tips on landscape painting.

- Start with a warm toned canvas and rough in your sketch with a tertiary color (they dry faster)
- Simplify your composition by selecting 4 or fewer elements (earth, water, grass, trees, mountains, sky, rock etc.)
- Use the golden triangle to find a sweet spot for your subject (again, remove any element details that don't support the subject)
- Block in color from lightest to darkest dark (sky and corresponding water are typically the lightest parts of a composition)
- Fall in love with all of the glorious shades of grey, they are your friend in a landscape painting
- Know when to step back and/or walk away (Expressive landscape paintings are often finished long before you add final details)

painting on copper

prepping copper for oil painting:
- Use fine grit sandpaper or wool to create a "tooth".
- Rub crushed onion juice on the copper an letting it dry (this seems to take forever)
- To create a strong bond, apply a thin layer of resin or mastic varnish

Begin your painting with 3 layers of a lead white ground letting them dry between layers. This is kind of like laying down your first layer on the slippery panel and then coming back the next day to continue.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

American illustrator, Howard Pyle: Advice

Delaware Art Museum, Howard Pyle: Diversity in Depth (Delaware Art Museum: Wilmington, DE, 1973).

While Charles DeFeo was in Pyle's studio, he recorded some of the advice Howard Pyle gave to his class:
First an artist- then an illustrator.

If you are going to be an artist all hell can't stop you. If not, all Heaven can't help you.

If you receive only fifty cents for a job, put as much of your heart into it as you would in one you are receiving $500 for.

If you are doing a black-and-white, a little color will hide a multitude of sins.

If you are painting a sky full of birds, or a garden of flowers, or any objects- show one or a thousand.

If an object in the foreground of your picture looks too big, make it bigger. If it looks too small, make it smaller.

After the first half-hour of work, your lay-in should kill at a hundred yards.
If you can make a picture with two values only, you have a strong and powerful picture. If you use three values, it is still good, but if you use four or more, throw it away.

In using three values he used to say, "Put your white against white, middles tones (groups) against grays, black against black, then black and white where you want your center of interest. This sounds simple, but is difficult to do."

If you're doing a fight picture or a stormy scene make the background fight as well as the figures in the picture.

A strange color, that is different from the color scheme of your painting, use in one spot only. It will be beautiful, but do not repeat it.

They will never shoot you for what you leave out of a picture.

Your picture is finished if it is one-third as good as your original idea.

Practical Hints for Art Students by Charles A. Lasar, first published in 1910

Charles Lasar, Practical Hints for Art Students, (Duffield & Company, New York, 1923), pp. 183-187.

A vertical line gives dignity to a figure.

Never lose the symmetric form but forget a part here and there.

Life is the ornament to a scene.

The emotion of the movement of the principal figure or interest must be felt all through the scene.

The emotional frame consists in reproducing the movement in the masses.

Design is the composition of the emotion, which may be in the color or the form, depending upon the subject.

The stronger the tone line in a portrait the more dignified the pose.

To make a figure stand more firmly introduce horizontal lines, vertical lines give stiffness to a pose.

Now and then planes may be influenced by reflection. If a feature is ugly, like the chin for instance, one can reflect light onto it and take out some of its force.

Action is generally expressed by an oblique, dignity by vertical, and solidity by horizontal conditions.

The action of a figure may be effectively enhanced by the disposition of the hands in characteristic attitudes according to the emotion of the scene.

If you wish a figure or object to come forward let it influence an object behind it, and be itself influenced by an object in front of it.

The principal interest should be like lightning in the sky, that seen above everything else.

Sudden variety causes interest.

When a figure is bending over, the side that inclines the most should catch your eye first in value, color, and form.

The spots of a general color scheme may be taken from a suggestive part of the scene. For instance a man smoking may have his clothes the color of smoke, his cap fire red and the background or furniture a tobacco brown.

Never paint a portrait as though the person were posing. A natural position can only be kept for a few seconds, it is like a flash of lightning. You must just put down a few large marks for the chosen position of head, hands, feet, etc., and keep fitting the sitter into them.

Portraits and other figure subjects need light from above as well as at the side. Some persons require a warm and others a cold light, to bring out their best characteristics, both in form and color.

In portraits some persons will show to most advantage in color, while others are more striking in form considered as line.

A figure may be elegant but not graceful. Proportion gives elegance, movement grace, color charm.

In painting a portrait when making your tone put a little more rose into it than you really see.

Sometimes it is the character and sometimes the emotion that makes a portrait tell.

If the color is too brilliant in the face a portrait will lack refinement.

If a picture is not showy enough it is the fault of values; if it lacks in charm the color is wrong; if it is not solid local conditions are to blame.

In painting a portrait keep the lines of the body contrary to the lines of the profile.

Accessory forms are not eyes, nose, and mouth.

The direct condition of the flesh is peach bloom, surroundings cruder, lips to look like fruit.

Look out for a few hairs on the top surfaces, they give depth to a beard.

Be careful not to get the ear purple or it will look frozen.

If a picture lacks charm make it blush a little, but avoid fever.

A portrait does not depend upon the little things, but upon the big relations and differences. Look out for cheek bones, the direction of the mouth whether oblique or horizontal, how the eyes slant in the face, these are the things that count and not a little pretty drawing here and there. Some people have long faces, others short; some have sloping shoulders, others square, etc.

Clumsiness may be a quality.

Form, value, and tone are three chances for making a thing good.

A portrait may be dramatic in color, but not in form or values, or vice versâ.

Keep a portrait full of life and action, never put down the tired conditions of a pose.

Where beauty is lacking expression and color may charm.

It is good practise when about to paint a head to mix first the flesh tint general, then hair, background, eyes, and lips; understanding that lips are the accent to flesh as eyes and eyebrows are to hair.

The color of eyes and lips show off the clearness of skin.

If you wish to keep flesh color clear leave out as many half tones as possible.

Accenting eyes and mouth in value and color will also clear the complexion.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Why [Sargent's] brushwork looks so fluent and easy..."

I remember reading that John Singer Sargent would often require many sittings to get his portraits right, and that he was rarely satisfied with his first efforts.

But I always wondered: Did he scrape off each false start and then begin all over again? Or did he just work over the previous start after it had dried? How did he know when a painting was going wrong?

Thanks to two of his former pupils, Miss Heyneman and Mr. Henry Haley, we have an idea of his methods:

"He drew a full, large brush down the whole contour of a cheek (over one of her half-finished studies), obliterating apparently all the modeling underneath, but it was always further to simplify that he took these really dreadful risks, smiling at my ill concealed perturbation and quite sympathizing with it.

"The second painting taught me that the whole values of a portrait depends upon its first painting, and that no tinkering can ever rectify an initial failure. Provided every stage is correct, a painter of Mr. Sargent's caliber could paint for a week on one head and never retrace his steps -- but he never attempted to correct one. He held that it was as impossible for a painter to try to repaint a head where the understructure was wrong, as for a sculptor to remodel the features of a head that has not been understood in the mass. That is why Mr. Sargent often repainted the head a dozen times, he told me that he had done no less than sixteen of Mrs. Hammersley.

“When he was dissatisfied he never hesitated to destroy what he had done. He spent three weeks, for instance, painting Lady D' Abernon in a white dress. One morning, after a few minutes of what was to be the final setting, he suddenly set to work to scrape out what he had painted. The present portrait in a black dress (above), was done in three sittings.

“He did the same with the portrait of Mrs. Wedgwood, and many others. Miss Eliza Wedgwood relates that in 1896 he consented, at the insistence of Alfred Parsons, to paint her mother. She sat for him twelve times, but after the twelfth sitting he said she would both be the better for a rest.

“He then wrote to Miss Wedgwood that he was humiliated by his failure to catch the variable and fleeting charm of her mother's personality -- that looked like the end of the portrait. Some weeks later he saw Mrs. Wedgwood at Broadway, and struck with a new aspect he said:

‘If you will come up next week we will finish that portrait.’

“She came to Tite Street, a new canvas was produced, and in six sittings he completed the picture which was shown at the Memorial Exhibition.

“I have also seen the assertion that he painted a head always in one sitting. He painted a head always in one process, but that could be carried over several sittings. He never attempted to repaint one eye or to raise or lower it, for he held that the construction of a head prepared the place for the eye, and if it was wrongly placed, the understructure was wrong, and he ruthlessly scraped and repainted the head from the beginning. That is one reason why his brushwork looks so fluent and easy; he took more trouble to keep the unworried look of a fresh sketch than many a painter puts upon his whole canvas.

“The purpose of all this reworking was to: develop (in Sargent's words) ‘an appetite to attack the problem afresh at every sitting, each attempt resulting in a more complete visualization in the mind. The process is repeated until the canvas is completed.’

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Charles Reid Flesh

Red  + Yellow + White + Complement

Cadmium Red

Cadmium Yellow (Cadmium Yellow Light / Yellow Ochre / Raw Sienna)
Titanium White
warm areas

To cool, add cerulean blue (light areas) or viridian green (darks)

Vary mix: Yellow Ochre in the light, Raw Sienna in the shadow

Light flesh: Titanium White + Cad Red Light + Cad Yellow Pale + Cerulean Blue / Permanent Green Light

More subtle flesh tone: Titanium White + Yellow Ochre + Cad Red + Any Cad Yellow + Cerulean Blue / Permanent Green Light

Darker:  Titanium White + Raw Sienna / Yellow Ochre + Cad Yellow + Viridian / Cobalt Blue / Ultramarine Blue

Hudson River School Palettes

Frederic Church's Twilight in the Wilderness was painted with:

Lead White
Red Lead
Strontium Yellow (one of 3 lemon yellows--most opaque, most lightfast)
Chrome Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Chrome Green

     [In the late 19th century and early 20th century United States, chrome green often referred to either a mixture of Prussian blue with chrome yellow, which was known as Brunswick or royal green to English and Continental painters. Chrome green to European painters was the designation for chromium oxide green.]
Green Earth
Earth Colors
Prussian Blue 

Thomas Cole wrote a letter to Durand asking for supplies for a sketching trip. In addition to copal varnish and oil, he asked for:
Roman Ochre

     [Roman Ocher is a mixture of natural iron oxide pigments that has marigold tint and the strong and dark French ocher, J. F. L. E. S., and according to one author is made by 65 parts by weight of yellow ocher and two parts by weight of Italian burnt sienna mixed with 32 parts of poppyseed or nut oil.]
Lena Siena Raw and Burnt
Burnt Umber
Chrome Yellow
Naples Yellow
Antwerp Blue

     [A light shade of Prussian blue, or sometimes a mixture of Prussian blue that lacks the bronze cast and blanc fixe and sometimes further brightened with zinc white.]
Madder Lake
Vandyck Brown
Light Red

     [Light red refers to a red ocher or burnt yellow ocher similar to English red. It has been described as a red ocher with cool tints or undertones.]

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stapleton Kearns landscape palette

starting from the top going across to the right:
Titanium white (Lefranc & Bourgeois--all others RGH)
cadmium yellow light
cadmium yellow medium
cadmium red light
burnt sienna
cobalt violet
Prussian blue

and on the left descending;
Golden, or yellow ochre
ultramarine blue
Viridian, or sometimes pthalo green
Quinacridone red
Ivory black

Titanium white, the standard artists white these days, opaque and nonpoisonous, that white stuff on your lifeguards nose is titanium. Lefranc and Bourgeois makes a really nice titanium that's very reasonably priced. Some artists like zinc white because it's more transparent and they feel it doesn't overwhelm their colors making them chalky. Some brands of paint are a mixture of titanium and zinc and try to get the best qualities of both. Lead white is somewhat transparent as well, it dries more quickly than the others and handles better than the others. It gives a nice surface and is the white in all the old paintings in the museum. It is poisonous and is becoming harder to find.

Cadmium yellow light, or pale. Never buy a tube that says hue on it! A hue is some unknown pigments mixed up to look like the color you actually want. If you want azo yellow (or French's mustard) buy tubes labeled that way. Manufacturers sell these to students and hobbyists who don't know the difference. They won't handle reliably in your mixtures and lack pigmenting strength. Student grades of paint often are hues. Painting well is hard enough to do with the best of materials.

Cadmium yellow medium, more orange and warmer than the cadmium yellow light. I can live without this by feeding a little cadmium red light into my cadmium yellow light, but it is convenient having it and it helps me to get greater variety when mixing greens. There is a lot of variation between makers and some makers' cadmium yellow medium may be the same color as another makers' cadmium yellow deep.

Cadmium red light, this is an expensive pigment, but a tube will last you a long time. All the cadmiums are poisonous . Don't eat or smoke while they are on your hands. Never put these in a spray gun, and I would recommend you never work with this pigment in a powdered form (such as grinding your own paint, let the pros do that). Used responsibly they are safe. Most of the things in an artists' studio are poisonous to one degree or another. I was taught to paint with real vermilion in this slot on the palette, that is mercuric sulphide and is really, really poisonous and nearly impossible to get these days however it was a lovely color. When you see the blush in the cheek of a woman painted by John Sargent, that's vermilion. Often your red is going to be used to "step on " ie. modify another color slightly and vermilion did that nicely. There are some nice proprietary reds that are possibles in this spot on the palette. Sennelier red is a nice one. Rembrandt also makes a nice red in this range. I don't see a good replacement for the cadmium yellows but you may decide to choose a substitute for cadmium red light. The important thing is that this is a warm red, you will have a cool red on the other side of the palette.

Burnt sienna, is an absolutely wonderful color! It is inexpensive. Earth colors are (or rather were) colored dirt dug up in various places in Italy, and are mostly forms of iron oxide. They are made in the lab today and are, I think, far better than the real earth pigments. These are reliable, permanent and well behaved colors.They dry relatively quickly. I like to sketch paintings in with burnt sienna. Some artists who choose to use limited palettes and work on a chromatic palette don't use earth colors. Some of the western painters have popularized this approach lately. I will talk about limited palettes in another post. Oddly enough the old masters had just the opposite sort of palette and worked with three color earth palettes. There's a lot of different ways to skin the same cat, each has its limitations and advantages. My palette has both an earth color palette and a chromatic palette within it. Winsor and Newton makes a nice burnt sienna. Since burnt sienna is a relatively inexpensive color buy a good one.

Cobalt violet, an extremely expensive color. I love it, but I can't say you really need to have it. Its got a lovely sort of glow that no other violet has. Dioxizine has far more tinting strength. I feel dioxizine has too much in fact, and will actually stain the hairs in your brushes. Most of the proprietary violets on the market are dioxizine, often toned down to make them more manageable. You can mix your violets over on the other side of the palette with ultramarine and quinacridone or alizirin. Gamblin makes a less expensive cobalt violet and it is fine.

Prussian blue
, This blue leans slightly towards green. It is not a real popular color these days having been largely replaced with thalo blue. I use Prussian because it is more manageable, thalo blue being so much more powerful than the other pigments on your palette that it can be over assertive in mixtures. Many fine painters have relied on it though. Emile Gruppe used it extensively as the blue in his chromatic palette. Most of the proprietary blues labeled with the makers name are thalo.
Neither of these colors is particularly expensive so you may want to try a small tube of both. Like cobalt violet you may decide you don't need this color either.

Gold ochre, another earth color, this is a slightly more yellow version of yellow ochre. You probably want yellow ochre here. but you might check out the golden version, Some companies make a yellow ocher light and deep as well. Raw sienna and mars yellow both fit into this slot on the palette. Like other earth colors this is a dependable workhorse of a color and I could mix nearly the same hue from chromatic colors but its nice to have it there and ready to use, and there is a nice sort of "acoustic" look to the earth colors. I once bought a tube of Sennelier yellow ochre and it was dirty and weak. I realized that I was so used to our modern lab made versions of this color I was unaware of what the real earth color of the old masters was like. Rembrandt would be very impressed with my palette, I am not so sure he would be that impressed with my paintings though.

Ultramarine blue. I use a lot of this, after white its the color of which I use the most. Sometimes I take it off my palette just for disciplines sake. It is a slightly reddish blue. My palette has a warm and a cool version of each hue. Ultramarine is my warm blue, Prussian is my cool blue. I prefer the ultramarine deep or the French ultramarine when a manufacturer gives me a choice. Good ultramarine has clarity, cheap ultramarine is dirty. Quality ultramarine is like butter and cheap ultramarine is slimy.

Viridian green is a lovely bluish green that has become very expensive in the last few years. Its quality has also dropped, it seems to me that it goes gritty on the palette much more quickly than it used to or should. RGH makes one and though they aren't giving it away it is still affordable. Viridian mixed with a lot of white is good in skies and a tolerable replacement for cerulean blue which has also become very expensive. Lately I have been experimenting with Thalo green deep, I am not sure if I can live with it as an inexpensive substitute for viridian or not. It is of course much more powerful.

Quinacridone red, I was taught to paint with alizirin crimson and in those days it was a standard artists pigment. It had many faults, it had a bloody, blacky sort of a color and was impermanent and handled poorly. Some years ago manufacturers began selling Permanent Alizirin which was of course not alizirin at all. It is usually quinacridone. The ideal color for this slot is probably genuine rose madder. That is a wonderful color, rather than being bloody like alizirin, it has an organic roseate hue that is warm, clear and lovely like roses themselves. When I was on a three color palette this was my red. It is about 35 dollars for a 37 ml. tube. This is, in my estimation, the best argument for being rich. Sometime when you feel flush, treat yourself to a tube of Winsor and Newtons' genuine rose madder, it is like a good box pressed maduro from the Dominican Republic, one of life's' finest experiences. I should mention I suppose that it is not entirely permanant.
Quinacridone isn't cheap either but it is roseate in hue, permanent and dependable. If you buy a tube of permanent rose this is what you will get. It wont stomp on your mixtures like some of the other cool red pigments, delicacy is the" pearl of great price" in the cool reds.

Lastly, Ivory black.. A lot of outdoor painters eschew the use of black and there's a good reason for that. In the hands of tyros (now there's an antique word) it brings on disaster. It is not to be used to make the shadow note by adding it to the color of an object in the light. THE SHADOW IS A SEPARATE COLOR FROM THE LIGHT, AND NOT THE COLOR OF THE LIGHT PLUS BLACK! It is virtually always better to add the compliment of a color to any note to reduce it. Black is only useful when perceived as a color of its own. Sometimes painters talk about painting clean, for them black is an anathema. Another philosophy thinks of putting the right color of mud in the right place. I fall into the latter camp. If a color is too red I add green, if it's to yellow I add purple, etc. That's sort of like the difference between playing a fretted instrument and playing a violin (which has no frets) I play across the colors rather than clearly hitting only the separate notes in each octave. See what I mean? Now I have to write a post on compound color vs. simple color. I will label that post inominate color. I sometimes do small black and white studies for larger paintings.


pornstar pink

I was asked about the pink I was using. Since I tube my own colors, I can tube mixtures. My pink is my own homemade version of a color available from Williamsburg paints that they call Persian Rose. Persian Rose is a quinacridone rose (PV19; WN Permanent Rose) and white mixture (zinc) heated up with a shot of diperrolpyrroll orange (PO73; Winsor Orange). That gives it a hot undertone. It is the antidote for green though.
I call the version that I make Pornstar Pink. When you look at it on the palette it looks fluorescent. You would wonder what on earth I would do with a strong pink like that. Its enough to make a feather boa blush. Several of my artists friends are using my pink and when I make it now, I have to make about a quart. I can't easily describe to you how I make my version so I suggest you acquire a tube of the Persian Rose which is similar.
I manipulate my greens a lot, desaturating them, pushing them in different directions to get variety and installing warm notes. I push a lot of reds into my greens. In the summer everything is either yellow or blue or a combination of the two (green) so I smuggle red, I wrote a post about that here.
A thing to watch out for and avoid is chartreuse, in the summer it is easy to fill paintings with poisonous yellow greens and some painters have done that, their paintings get poisonous. A great variety of greens and a careful control of the yellower and cooler greens will usually result in better landscapes. Here comes my old joke again but I do mean something by it. "I want to make paintings the color of 500 dollar suits. What I mean by that is there are loud greens in nature that would never make it onto the racks at Brooks Brothers ( a local retailer known for their restrained taste and high quality). You may want to use those hues, but do it sparingly, if you do use an acidic color, make it an accent, allot to it the area you would a tie.

William Whitaker on classic palette

[I'm currently using a limited palette of Titanium white, Red Vermillion, Yellow Ocher, Ivory black...]

Your basic four colors comprise the so-called classic palette. To be 100% sure of the following information, I'd have to see your red-vermillion. However, if your paints are quality, I'm sure your red-vermillion is just fine too.

Mix some secondary colors.
Black plus yellow ochre = green.
Black plus white = blue.
Both those secondaries are good to modify and tone down your basic flesh of white, vermillion and yellow ochre. When mixing your basic flesh, start with white, add just enough yellow ochre to get the right pitch, then add a tiny bit of vermillion to get it just right. Add more vermillion and you get pink cheeks and even lips.

Now mix black and vermillion. You get a lovely dark brown. Use this unmodified for your darkest shadows in the nose, ears, and lip line. Apply it thin and transparent for your darkest flesh.

A useful color for turning your form from the light flesh to the shadow is raw umber. You can make a good raw umber by mixing black, yellow and a little red. Add white to it and it approaches grey.

Play around.

But remember, the best way to learn is to paint from life. Con a friend into sitting for you. I've done that for years, then given the sitter the results. If you are smarter than I am, you can sell the sitter the results!

Work in natural indirect light. Place your figure against a dark neutral background. (A piece of cloth will do.) This will give you Old Master light and shadows, which are the best for painting the figure.

I've posted a head I cropped from a fairly recent 10x8" painting on panel. (A lot of my current stuff is small.) I did this with a fairly limited palette. Remember, value is more important than color.

painting on wood

Does anyone have any advice on oil painting on wood (like plywood)? I like to incorporate the grain of the wood into the image itself, so white gesso isn't an option, and clear gesso makes it look "foggy".

You could do a shellac/renatured alcohol thing. It will tint it yellow though...
Or, you could oil it with a boiled oil wood finish until it won't absorb any more.
Or, you could use a commercial wood sealer.

Richard Schmid's Palette

* = always on palette

Winsor Newton
Cadmium Lemon*
Cadmium Yellow Pale
Aurora Yellow*
Cadmium Red*
Cadmium Scarlet
Cadmium Orange
Yellow Ochre Pale*
Terra Rosa*
Venetian Red
Permanent Alizarin Crimson

Cadmium Yellow Deep*
Transparent Oxide Red*
Cobalt Blue Light*
Ultramarine Deep*

Alizarin Permanent*

Titanium White

Cobalt Violet Light
(Transparent & Opaque)
Cobalt Violet Deep

Old Holland
Cadmium Orange
Lapis Lazuli Genuine

various traditional palettes

The Limited Classical Flesh Palette:
Flake White
Yellow Ochre
Vermilion (can substitute Cad Red Light)
Ivory Black
Burnt or Raw Umber (for monochromatic underpainting/drawing. The dark umber areas will remain uncovered, to act as transparent and deep shadow areas)
This is basically a red (verm.), yellow (ochre), blue (ivory black) configuration. The basic flesh mixture is the white and yellow ochre, with a touch of the red, and a smidgen of black to lower chroma, if desired.

Extended Classical Flesh Palette

Flake White
Naples Yellow
Indian Yellow (glazing)
Vermilion or Cad. Red Light
Red Ochre or Light Red
Rose Madder (A transparent color. Don't buy the any colors with Lake in the name, as they are not permanent)
Burnt Sienna
Terre Verte or Green Earth
Ivory Black
Classical palettes, idealy, are used in a layered technique, but alla prima is also possible and almost equal in the right hands (Rubens, Hals)

Complete Classical Palette
- as listed at
Flake White
Naples Yellow
Indian Yellow
Yellow Ochre
Red Ochre
Rose Madder
Burnt Sienna
Brown Madder
Cassel Earth
Ivory Black
Ultramarine Blue
Prussian Blue

Modern Limited Palette (Higher chroma than classical, geared towards opaque, direct painting methods. A very, very basic landscape palette also.)
Flake or Titanium White
Cad. Yellow Light
Yellow Ochre
Cad. Red Light
Alizarin Crimson (trans., like a darker Rose Madder)
Cobalt Blue (or Cerulean if you prefer)
Ultramarine Blue (trans.)
Ivory Black
Here you have a high chroma, RYB scheme, with warm and cool variations of each color. Permanent

Extended Modern Palette

Flake or Titanium White
Cad. Yellow Light
Cad. Orange
Yellow Ochre
Raw Sienna
Cad. Red light
Cad. Red Medium
Red Ochre or LIght Red or Indian Red
Alizarin Crimson
French Ultramarine
Cobalt or Cerulean
Sap Green
Burnt Sienna
Ivory Black

The landscape palette

(taken from
'Landscape calls for pitch and vibration. You must have pure color and great luminosity, yet a range of color which will permit of all sorts of effects. The following will serve for everything out-of-doors, and I have seen it with practically no change in the hands of very powerful and exquisite painters. There are no browns and blacks in it because the colors which they would give are to be made by mixing the purer pigments, so as to give more life and vibration to the color. The Blackest note may be gotten with ultramarine and rose madder with a little viridian if too purple; the result will be blacker than black, and have daylight in it. The ochre is needed more particularly to warm the veridian'.
Stronitian Yellow
Orange Vermilion
Cadmium Yellow
Pink Madder
Orange Cadmium
Rose Madder
Yellow Ochre
Emerald Green (aka Veronese Green)

Monday, October 26, 2009

William Whitaker on flesh painting

from ConceptArt

I’ve been asked how I get my flesh tones – more specifically, Northern European flesh tone. It is mostly a factor of getting some early vital training, working for decades in natural light and from life, and of course endless practice. However, over the past month I’ve been amusing myself by trying to work out a simple basic formula that might help some of you. Today I did a little experimental oil painting and took photos.

My demonstration panel is a piece of 6x8 inch ABS plastic material. I carefully sanded the shiny surface off, then toned it with a little Mars Black thinned with odorless mineral spirit and alkyd resin. I let these panels dry as long as possible.

ABS is far superior to hardboard with acrylic gesso, and if the painting doesn’t work out, I can simply sand it off and paint a new one.

For practice work, I recommend ABS (I get it at a plastic wholesaler), or frosted Mylar, or high quality tracing paper. I did most of my early practice work on tracing paper. It doesn’t need to be prepared and the paint doesn’t soak through.

My medium is simply linseed oil. Nothing else. I keep it in an eyedropper bottle. Walnut oil is another very good oil. I’m not using resins or any fancy mediums currently.

I rubbed the linseed oil over the panel with my fingers. It won’t poison me.

I wanted only the lightest film of oil on the panel, so I followed up the rub-in with a quick wipe with a paper towel.

I added a little linseed oil to some of the stiffer colors. If I do my preparations right, I won’t need to add any additional oil or medium as I paint. My colors are the best I can buy, but I wouldn’t worry too much about paint brands and until you’ve mastered your craft, in fact, I wouldn’t use the most expensive ones.

I mixed the oil into the colors [on glass] using my painting knife, and then transferred the result to my palette.

The colors are:
Titanium White, Ivory Black, Transparent Earth Red (sometimes called Transparent Red Oxide) Raw Umber.

The grey is my special flesh tone I invented to save time. I call it Mary Sauer Flesh Color, after one of my students whose delicate pale flesh inspired it. It consists of Titanium white darkened with Raw Umber, to which I’ve added Terre Verte.

Next is Yellow Ochre, and then a darker flesh color made of Gamblin’s Caucasian Flesh Tone to which I added more Yellow Ochre and a little more Cadmium Red Light. Then follows Gamblin’s Caucasian Flesh Tone. For those of you who cannot get Gamblin Oils, the color is merely Titanium White to which Yellow Ochre has been added until you get a light yellow. Then add tiny bits of Cadmium Red Light and be careful. The red has a lot of tinting power and it’s easy to add too much and make this color too pink.

Next is Cadmium Red Light. I’ve learned to squeeze out very little color when I know I won’t need much of it. Then Permanent Alizarin Crimson, then a little Permanent Sap Green, and finally a little Ultramarine Blue. I don’t think I’ll be using the blue in this demo, so this is just an in case color.

I use old telephone books to wipe my brushes. I got this idea from Ken Davies in his still life painting book from the 1970’s. It’s saved me billions of dollars.

Rather than use my own reference material for this demo, I took advantage of the Internet and cropped and converted a shot to black and white from the mjranum stock photo site on Deviant Art here.

The figure shots are excellent and large for download and printing. I got it in the Classical Nudes section, and it’s labeled dancers 1. Usually I do head demos, but I thought a torso might be more useful. I don’t need the color, so I made a black and white print. I think there is a whole section on Concept Art featuring useful figure reference sites.

I always try and use the biggest brush I can. I employ a Trekell long filbert #6 here. I think of my drawing as an armature. I try and get the big angles and shapes first. The oiled surface of the panel helps the brush glide. This is easier than drawing with a pencil! I like to work with a very light touch.

 About 45 minutes later, I had the drawing down well enough. My paint consisted of Raw Umber and Transparent Earth Red. Raw Umber is a fast drier and I add it to as many paint mixtures as possible to speed drying.


 I mixed Titanium White with a tiny bit of Yellow Ochre for my lightest highlights and put them on. Then I mixed a little of my darker flesh tone into my Mary Sauer Flesh tone and did some quick modeling with it. Then I mixed a background color of white, Raw Umber and Sap Green to give me a nice cool neutral around the figures.

Then I mixed a lighter flesh made of Mary Sauer and Caucasian Flesh Tone. I laid it on and made a few variations by changing the proportions of those two colors. I also mixed a ruddier color from Caucasian Flesh plus a tiny bit of Cadmium Red Light.

I think this is enough to show you where it’s going. Oil paint is much less messy than acrylics and almost as tidy as watercolors. I only rarely clean my brush out in my mineral spirits pot. Usually I just wipe my brush mostly clean with the paint rag I drape over my right thigh as I sit at the easel.

I might take this up in a few days and add a bit more too it. I like translucent/transparent colors and I like brushwork. It’s better if I stop before I think I should so as not to wreck the good parts. If I were to do one more thing to this demo, it would be to lighten most of the darker values a little.


Linseed oil in eyedropper bottle!
Titanium White
Ivory Black (Vasari)

Transparent Earth Red (sometimes called Transparent Red Oxide)  
Raw Umber
Mary Sauer Flesh Color: Titanium white + Raw Umber + Terre Verte
Yellow Ochre (Vasari)
Gamblin’s Caucasian Flesh Tone
Cadmium Red Light 
Permanent Alizarin Crimson 
Permanent Sap Green (Gamblin)
Ultramarine Blue

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dos santos on tripod

*Tripods can vary greatly in price depending on quality.
Most of the pros I know use high end Manfrotto (distributed by Bogen in the US).
It's really solid, and also all of the hardware is metal, no plastic parts that break off.
A good tripod will last 50 years.
Also keep in mind that the camera mounts for the tripod (or 'heads') are often sold separately from the actual tripod when you get in the higher end of things.
A good head could cost you hundreds just on its own.

Though, I suspect since this is your first tripod, you are not looking to spend that much.

If so, I recommend getting a tripod with greatest height possible.
Many brands will offer a small, medium, large option.
The price between them is not that significant, but the performance is.
Definitely go large.
I recommend something that can go close to 6 feet.
If you ever start shooting portraits, you'll really want that height.

As Elwell said, you are going to want something sturdy, and that's not likely unless you are willing spend some real bucks.
Instead, look for a tripod that has a little hook beneath the adjustable shaft.
This hook is for hanging weights.
If you hang a heavy paintbucket from that hook, it REALLY helps to keep the tripod in place.
An accidental tap with your foot won't move it and screw you all up.

They also sometimes have nets instead of hooks.
I prefer hooks.

Lastly, make sure your head has at least 3 tilt options.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dos Santos on Bouguereau

[...] This is Bouguereau's palette as best experts can tell from x-rays, chemical analysis, and notes.
Of course, some colors changed over the course of his career, but this is a good approximation of those he used most frequently.

Bouguereau's Palette:
• Naples Yellow (lead antimoniate)
• Yellow-Ochre
• Chrome Yellow, dark
• Viridian
• Cobalt Blue
• White Lead
• Light Vermilion
• Chinese Vermilion
• Mars Brown (iron oxide); this available from Lefranc & Bourgeois
• Van Dyck Brown
• Burnt Sienna
• Ivory Black
• Bitumen
• Genuine Rose Madder, dark

As for your chalkiness issue...
try thinking of white as a cool color.
Thus, you need to use it sparingly in the highlight.
try to favor more yellow, or at the very least surround the white with warm colors so it takes on their appearance.
The highlights in the face you mentioned are very similar to a color I use called Nickel Titanium Yellow Light by Rembrandt.
Try it.
I use it as a substitute for white in the warm areas so as to keep them warm.
Then if I need it, I bump it up to white.

* [Elwell: That Rembrandt color Dan mentioned is just zinc white with a touch of bismuth yellow (PW4, PY184). It's convenient, but you could mix your own with any white and high chroma yellow, like a cad or hansa lt. When people talk about using higher chroma pigments in the lights, that's exactly what they mean. The thing to remember is that it just takes a smidge to tint the white.]

Friday, September 25, 2009

NYC Stores

David Davis
website down but company still working
(800) 965-6554
(718) 222-1090
499 Van Brunt Street, #6A
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Public Transportation: from Manhattan take subway to Borough Hall or Jay Street stations, transfer to B61 bus on Jay Street or Atlantic Avenue, take B61 to end of Van Brunt, we are located in unit #6 halfway down on the pier.

Robert Doak & Assoc
718- 237- 0146
89 Bridge Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Take the “F” train to York Street. Walk east one block towards Bridge St. Turn left on Bridge St.
Monday- Friday 09:00 am- 4:00 pm

323 West 39th Street, Suite 606
New York, NY 10018
United States
(800) 932-9375
Mon-Fri 9:45am-6pm

j wellington class at ny acad

paint colors:
Rublev Lead White #1 (or David Davis, Vasari)
Vasari Ivory Black
Yellow Ochre Pale/Light
Raw Sienna or Vasari Capucine Red Light [dark yellow]
Cadmium Yellow Medium, Vasari Naples Orange, or Robert Doak Lead Tin Yellow
Cadmium Red Light or Vermillion--[orange-y]
Burnt Umber, Red Umber, or Transparent Brown Oxide [dark brown]
Burnt Sienna or Transparent Red Oxide [warm red brown]
Terra Rosa, Red Ochre, or Light Red
Ultramarine Blue or Robert Doak Wellington Blue
Alizarin Crimson

round badger size 4, 6, 8. Round Kolinsky sable watercolor brush size 3 for detail.

4 parts turpentine substitute
1 part real sun-thickened linseed oil
1/2 part real copal resin (Robert Doak)

Alkyd medium by Gamblin or WN + mineral spirits + stand oil.

Portrait linen, wood panel, copper, or prepared watercolor paper/museum board.

preparing paper:
Rough Arches 160/22o
+ acrylic gesso thinned with water to consistency of skim milk. Brush it on. Dry. Brush it on back.

1 part clear shellac + 3 parts denatured alcohol. Brush it on watercolor paper (Vincent Desiderio)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

cecily brown

In the Guardian, Perri Lewis and Cecily Brown talk about the painting process. "You've got the same old materials - just oils and a canvas - and you're trying to do something that's been done for centuries. And yet, within those limits, you have to make something new or exciting for yourself as well as other people. I have always wanted to make paintings that are impossible to walk past, paintings that grab and hold your attention. The more you look at them, the more satisfying they become for the viewer. The more time you give to the painting, the more you get back....Often, I find it really hard to see what I'm doing when I'm in the thick of things. I can get too precious and have to force myself to put my paintings aside. There's a wall in my studio where I hang paintings that I think are done or nearly done. Over time, I'll realise which ones are working and which aren't.

"There's never a moment for me when I consciously add the last stroke. When a painting is 90-95% there, it's especially difficult because you know that it's really close and you also know that you could completely ruin it. Of course, I do often ruin things. I take things too far, and can't get them back....The problems don't get any easier just because you're exhibiting. I'm still faced with the same difficulties as when I first started to paint. But you'd never make a mark if you started worrying too much about how it will be received in the world, or if anyone is going to look at it. You can't have all that in your head while you're in the process of making a painting.

"I think once I stopped caring quite so much about where I fitted in, and whether it made any sense to be painting, I started getting more and more absorbed in it. I've discovered that the more I paint, the more I want to paint. The longer I go on doing it, the more I have to say and do. You pose a certain set of questions in one group of paintings and you want to answer them in the next. One body of work leads naturally to the next - you sort of feed off yourself. It's a question of accepting the limits of painting and trying to be as imaginative and expansive as possible within those boundaries."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dave Palumbo

my palette typically has the following colors laid out: Titanium White, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Brilliant Pink, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Scarlet, Montserrat Orange, Cadmium Orange, Scheveningen Yellow Deep, Nickle Titanium Yellow, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cinnabar Green Light Extra, Sap Green, Chromium Oxide, Windsor Green, Cobalt Turquoise, French Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Kings Blue Deep, Old Holland Violet Gray. Not to say that I use every color in every painting, typically maybe about half, just as I need them. I only put out a little at a time to avoid waste, using a glass palette in a tupperware box to help keep them fresh. I keep my turp in a jar with a lid so I don't have to toss it until it gets dirty. I leave it all set up so there's not much to it. I turn on my lights, open my turp and palette and maybe freshen up a color or two, pick out my brushes and go to work. Takes about 1 minute

Titanium White
Permanent Alizarin Crimson (WN)
Brilliant Pink (Old Holland)
Cadmium Red
Cadmium Scarlet (WN)
Montserrat Orange (Williamsburg)
Cadmium Orange
Scheveningen Yellow Deep (Old Holland)
Nickle Titanium Yellow (Old Holland)
Naples Yellow (Williamsburg? WN?)
Yellow Ochre (WN)
Cinnabar Green Light Extra (Old Holland)
Sap Green (Williamsburg? WN?)
Chromium Oxide (Williamsburg)
Winsor Green (WN)
Cobalt Turquoise (WN)
French Ultramarine Blue (WN)
Prussian Blue
Kings Blue Deep (Old Holland)
Old Holland Violet Gray (Old Holland)

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