I did a quick study of a house plant today with a new palette set up. This new palette is very similar to my usual palette, except with a few additions. I've added cadmium yellow light, cadmium red light, rose madder, alizarin crimson and prussian blue. I've also switched out venetian red for a brown red, which I like more.
I didn't have any cadmiums on my palette for a while because I felt like they were too powerful (same thing with titanium white). I added them back on my palette to add another level of intensity for my yellows and reds, which I really enjoyed. I still prefer silver white (zinc + flake white) instead of titanium, which I find to be too cold and chalky. Prussian blue is a color that I used to use years ago and I like having it back on my palette. It's basically a very deep greenish blue, that comes in handy for darker greens. I switched out Venetian red for a different earth red called Brun Rouge because Venetian is kind of a weird earth red that I didn't find useful.
I always want to stress that the colors you use should be colors that you find useful. For a beginner, it's good to try out a basic palette, but remember to keep testing out new colors and find colors that work for you.
I think every artist knows the feeling of overworking a painting or a drawing. And this is something that I've wanted to write about for a while because I think it's the difference between professional work and amateur.
If you like the freshness of the work by artists like John Singer Sargent and Sorolla, then I'm going to share some of my own insight about how to avoid overworking a painting.
1. It's better to leave a painting slightly unfinished, instead of working something to death. The painting will look worse if you get finicky with the color and overall painting. It will lose the freshness and spontaneity that you want.
2. Stay far away from your subject! What I mean by this is to not get too close to whatever you're painting. This is easier when you're painting from life, but if you're using photos on your computer or phone, then DON'T ZOOM IN. I know it's tempting to zoom in and see every detail, but trust me when I say that it will only make it harder to paint. Details in a painting are always secondary to the larger value structure and composition.
3. Don't mess with it. This is always easier said than done, but you must learn to leave the painting alone. This is especially true when you're working with watercolor because watercolor painting is very fragile. Never use two strokes, when one stroke will suffice.
So this is what I've been thinking a lot about recently, and I hope that it helps shed some light on this really important topic. Remember to keep painting, keep practicing and have fun!
Scroll down for photos!
I just got back today from a weekend beach trip with my family and two of my best friends. I did some pencil sketching on my trip but I really missed my oil paints. I got back home early enough today to do a quick 6" X 8" oil sketch. The sun was going down fast, but I always love the evening and dusk so I wanted to do a sketch during that time of day.
For some technical information: here's a list of the colors I used for this. Starting at the top right of the palette and circling counter-clockwise:
-Chrome Yellow Light
-Chrome Yellow Deep
-Emerald Green (Veronese Green)
It's a pretty basic color palette, but you could also put out some ultramarine blue and cobalt and have a fully realized landscape palette. I was using a really small palette box so I decided I didn't need any blues or. Another note about colors on your palette: try and figure out what colors you really need instead of setting up a standard palette. And you don't really need as many colors as you think you do. Less is more.
"Grapefruit Tree and Rooted Honeysuckle" - Progression of my Own Style, Academic to Impressionistic.
I had some beautiful sunlight to paint this afternoon! It's been so rainy the past few days, I was started to go crazy; I even thought about setting up my paints outside in the rain!
This painting below is another painting that I've wanted to do for a few weeks now. I'm really falling more and more in love with painting en plein air in almost an impressionist style. I used to paint very academically, which gave me a solid foundation in drawing and proportion, but it left me feeling like I couldn't make a mistake in my paintings. I'm still very inspired by my academic heroes, such as Bouguereau, but I'm moving in my own direction and trying to paint my own pictures.
What always interested me about painting was being able to capture a moment in a way that a photograph never could. From a technical point of view, I'm very impressed with photo-realism and even my new paintings have a photographic feel, but my own goal is never to compete with a photo. Even when I do my commissioned portraits, where I have to work from photo references, I try and infuse the final painting with something more in terms of color, like and emotion.
What I'm saying is that the colors of real life and the atmosphere of everything is just magical and you can't capture it in a photo. There's also a big difference between painting from life and painting from photos, but that's a topic for another blog post...