I just did a new painting of a candlestick, very much inspired by a painting that I love called Candelabra with Roses by John Singer Sargent. The amount of beauty that Sargent was able to capture in such a simple and quick scene is just crazy to me. I wish I could ask Sargent some questions about his philosophy of painting!
For this painting (and for the foreseeable future), I used a really straightforward palette:
-Cadmium Yellow Light
-Cadmium Yellow Medium
-Cadmium Red Light
-Cadmium Red Medium
Aside from a few colors, this is the palette that I was using while as a student at the Pennsylvania Academy. So I guess to go forwards in finding myself again, I'm going backwards and focusing more on simplicity. No techniques, nothing fancy, no special way of doing it. I just want to focus on painting and teaching for now and listening to my own inner voice.
I was sketching my friend Tim last night and it hit me so suddenly, the importance of accurate values. It's way more important than color, proportion, detail or any other aspect to representational painting.
This revelation came at the perfect time to me because I was really struggling with a portrait and didn't know what I was going wrong. I think the roadblock I used to have before was to be almost afraid of making the values too dark. This fear is really impeding because most accurate values are towards the darker value range.
So a simple 3 step process for the painting below that I did was:
1. Start with a simple charcoal outline to get the basic proportions
2. Use a large brush and smudges of more opaque paint with accurate values. Don't worry about details at this stage. (squinting helps)
3. Once the basic forms are in place, then you can add minor details and refine it a little bit more, but don't go overboard and lose the planes.
I had a big realization today regarding technique that I feel will help a lot of artists out there who may feel lost with technique. I've written about this before, but I realized again that if you think there's a right way (and wrong way) to do something then you're doing it wrong. By this I mean that there is no right way and wrong way to do something and you can throw all those ideas away. Don't limit yourself in your thoughts. Give yourself freedom to experiment with your colors, your paint thickness, brush selection and anything else.
That being said, I did want to document my current oil painting palette as a way to track my progress. Below is my current full palette, but I definitely don't use all these colors in every painting, but it's a good starting place for anyone looking for a broad range to choose from.
Current oil painting palette as of 7/22/19
1. Silver White (Zinc + Flake)
2. Cadmium Lemon
3. Cadmium Yellow Light
4. Cadmium Yellow Medium
5. Yellow Ochre
6. Cadmium Orange
7. Cadmium Red Light
8. Cadmium Red Medium
9. Alizarin Crimson
10. Venetian Red
11. Burnt Sienna
12. Oxide of Chromium Green (Winsor & Newton)
13. Viridian Green
14. Cobalt Blue
15. Ultramarine Blue
16. Prussian Blue
17. Cobalt Violet
18. Raw Umber
19. Burnt Umber
20. Ivory Black
I got to try out my Jullian en plein air umbrella today with all this beautiful sunlight. I used the umbrella with my Mabef field easel and it worked beautifully. It really made it easier to gauge my colors on my palette and on the painting. What I really like about it is that it's white so it doesn't completely block out the sun. It's also not too small nor too large. If you're a plein air painter, then I highly recommend that you pick one up.
I look forward to using it a lot more as our flowers grow and I paint all summer long.