Thursday, January 24, 2013

Transparent Color

I recently bought the book Radiant Oils:  Glazing Techniques for Paintings that Glow by Arleta Pech.  I've recently been annoyed because I can't get the color or value I want in my oil paintings without creating mud, so I thought that this book would be helpful.  And I think it will be, although her approach to painting is a little different than what I'm used to.  I add a lot of white to my colors to get the values I want, whereas she, with a watercolorist background, thins the paints to transparency and builds the values she wants in layers, as you would in watercolor.

Unfortunately, I don't have any of the mediums around that she recommends (walnut oil, primarily), but I wanted to try some of these techniques, so I thought I would play around with the concepts in watercolor -- it would take days to do the experiment in oils, anyway.

This was the result.  I learned a lot about shading and color gradients from solids to white in the process, too, as you can see, my lower objects are better shaded than the first ones I tried.   This was done with three primary paints (and I did three different brands and color versions, to compare).  The primaries are one row, and then below that I put a layer of a primary and then layered another primary over the dry paint to create secondary tones, rather than mixing my colors on the palette (the two spheres off to the side, I used the latter method, just to see the difference). 

The watercolor book I have that I have been working with, Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Watercolors, is pretty cool, but it holds your hand and walks you through creating a traced-image painting and then filling in and layering the colors like this.  Only problem is, if I don't want to reproduce someone else's paintings, I have to figure this value thing out on my own, and there are no experimental exercises like this one in it.  

I do think that I'm going to need better paint if I'm going to pursue this watercolor thing with any seriousness... the beginner sets of paints I have are obviously not as rich in pigment as the few tubes of better brands that I've bought.  But, one thing at a time (yeah right, like I ever listened to THAT advice...).

Brandon (my son, who has an artistic bent) brought up an interesting question when I showed it to him:  Why is it that we seem to default having the light coming from the upper right?  Hm. Never thought about it, but it seems to be true in my case.  Any lefties out there who tend to make it come from the left?