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.

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