Saturday, August 22, 2009

Andrea J Smith, Atelier Canova:

"Many of the best classically trained artists admit they are not as skilled at working with color as they are with drawing and value painting. Smith made up for that deficiency as a student by spending a great deal of time learning to evaluate various oil colors and how they might be combined to make a full range of harmonious colors. “I developed my own way of working with a limited palette of colors, and now that is one of the distinctive aspects of my workshops and classes,” Smith says. “I spend a lot of time helping people understand how to use a few tube colors in order to prepare a full range of secondary and tertiary colors that are appropriate for whatever subject they select. I encourage them to premix small amounts of the colors as needed before they begin each painting session. This is the process I follow when I paint, and it is the same one I use for still lifes, figures, landscape, and portraits.”
2007, oil, 14 x 14. Private collection.
Participants in Smith’s classes are introduced to color theory through a quick sketch to help them understand how to use a limited palette of colors. The instructor also works alongside them and stays one step ahead by giving a formal demonstration each morning. “Some of the most basic techniques are explained during these demonstrations, such as the differences between opaque and transparent colors,” Smith explains.
The specific limited palette Smith recommends includes lead white, yellow ochre, English red or Indian red, cobalt blue, alizarin crimson, and ivory black. “These colors can be intermixed to create warm and cool versions of the needed colors,” she explains. “For example, students can make a beautiful green by combining yellow ochre with either ivory black or cobalt blue. An extended palette of colors that might be used for a complicated still life or landscape painting would have the addition of cadmium yellow, Indian yellow, vermilion, cerulean, or viridian.” The brands of paint Smith uses include Michael Harding, Old Holland, and Robert Doak. The medium she recommends is produced by Robert Doak in Brooklyn and is a combination of turpentine, sun-thickened walnut oil, and balsam."
Limited palette:
  • lead white,
  • yellow ochre,
  • English red or Indian red,
  • cobalt blue,
  • alizarin crimson, and
  • ivory black
optional 'expansion pack' for landscape:
  • cadmium yellow,
  • Indian yellow,
  • vermilion,
  • cerulean
  • viridian

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