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!
I made a short video to tell people about a special hammer for stretching your own canvas! I had some confusion when I first bought this tool and I hope this video helps anyone who had the same trouble!
I had a revelation this morning about the colors on my oil painting palette. I always spend a lot of time thinking about which colors to use and which colors I actually need. It's really hard some times because it's easy to get influenced by your artistic heroes and think that if you use the same colors, then you'll paint like them. The truth is that you should use colors that you like.
Of course, the only way to figure out which colors you like is to test out a bunch and then figure out which ones work for you and which ones don't. I'm attaching a picture of my current palette below, which is combination of colors that work for me.
Always remember that you can tailor your palette for specific subjects. For instance, if I'm painting a landscape with a lot of greens and blues, then I'm not going to put out all my reds because I don't need them. You could argue that you could mix reds into your greens to neutralize them, but I don't mix color that way so I know I don't need them. And, if suddenly, a red bird lands in the scene, then I can just put a little bit of red on my palette.
What I've realized is that it's good to learn about what colors artists of the past have used and to test out those colors as a guide. But to progress as an artist, you'll need to think for yourself and see the world with your own eyes. You'll eventually realize that the colors you use don't actually matter that much. And if you've practiced enough, then you can make a great painting just using the most basic palette!
*Many of my readers may know this, but I'm colorblind so I've spent a lot of time studying color for this very reason. Also because of this, I set up my color palette in a unique way that works for me. I always encourage everyone to work in your own style and always experiment with color!