I have been thinking about colour mixing lately. I am trying to be more systematic with it, because my nature is quite slap dash. That’s close enough, I’m going with my gut instinct (i.e. being lazy!) ~ they’re the phrases that go through my head.
Then I read Jane Blundell’s blog and see all the fantastic experiments she does with so many different brands of paints, and I want to be systematic like her! I looked at Shevaun Doherty’s Instagram post where she identified a huge range of colours in her divine lavender, and I want to see colours like she does! But I know I never will be like that.
However, I can try to understand colour, and I can be far more systematic in thinking about colour before I start to paint.
Colour is a very interesting, but complex topic. There are many things to think about and it would be easy, for someone else 🙂 to overthink it. Overthinking colour is not my problem! (See the first paragraph.) YouTube is over endowed with videos about the colour wheel, how to mix colours, instructional videos and so on. However, I recently found Robert Gamblin’s videos. He is an oil painter and has a company that produces oil paints in America.
His series of videos that have really helped me understand the colour wheel because his colour wheel is 3D, instead of the usual 2D ones. That allows him to explain tones, hues, chromatic intensity etc while demonstrating it visually on his wheel. He calls it “Navigating colour space”. He also uses his 3D model to explain why the palettes of the Old Masters (Rembrandt etc), the Impressionists (Monet, Renoir etc) and modern painters are so different. Worth a look if you are interested in understanding more about colour.
There are three videos to be watched in order.
What did you think of the videos? Do you have any recommendations for me to watch or websites that are useful?
Last days of a class that you have enjoyed is often tinged of regret. This last day of the workshop was no different, and I was determined to make the most of my time.
Just to recap, on Day 1 Helen Burrows worked us through tone, grey scale and mixing neutral tints, while Day 2 was about colour bias and other colour theory. There was a rose painting thrown in.
Day 3 was the time to tie it all together.
I chose a Just Joey rose. It was open and flouncy, with lots of beautiful curves and folds. There were strong highlights and delicious glowing depths. Just what a rose should be. By the way, whenever possible botanic artists work from the real thing, not photos. Therefore it helps to have a good supply, or paint things that don’t change much, like feathers and knobs of garlic! It also means that, before we start, we try to get as much information about our specimen as possible. Line drawings, tonal maps, colour swatches all help.
First step was the line drawing. This was much easier than the bud I attempted on Day 2. I am not sure why. More understanding of the shape? My eye was “in”? A fluke? Probably the last!
While I was drawing I was taking mental notes about the colours and the hues (which I think are tones with colour). I was also looking for the little details that make the drawing real ~ which line goes under, which go over, what happens at the end the curl of the petal and so on.
Then to the colour mixing and creating hue scales. A hue scale is like a colour swatch from the paint store. It helps to understand the range of that colour (hue), from the darkest of pure pigment to the lightest of washes.
I have admitted before that colour doesn’t always come easily to me. Part of my problem is that I am lazy, believing that close enough will be good enough. So while I did some hue scales, I could have done more. Consequently the colour I ended up using with was not accurate. So my painting of the beautiful Just Joey rose is also not accurate. To defend myself a little, I was conscious of time passing…..and the exercise was to see highlights and shadows.
Hmmm. Could do better. The pencil letters are the paints that I mixed in order to get the colours ~ Quinacrodome Red, Quinacrodome Gold and Windsor Yellow Deep, If I don’t record them, I easily forget.
On to the painting? Not quite yet. Next step is to create a tonal map/drawing of the rose. It is easy to skip this step, but I like it. Not only because I love seeing tone, but because it gives me vital information about the plant I am drawing. Then, when it goes to the compost, I have can still paint with reasonable accuracy. However, I have always done these as separate drawings. Helen’s suggestion was to do it on tracing paper, over the top of the line drawing. This is a great idea. The tonal work matches the line drawing
Now on to the painting. Following those beautiful curves. Making the depths of the rose glow. Finding the nuances of tone. Understanding that on the rose there are 2 different sorts of shadows. There are the cast shadows, those made by another petal blocking the light. On my rose they were soft blue grey. Then there is the darker tone created by the light shining through the petals. These were the areas that glowed. And remembering not to get caught up in the detail of each area too soon. This was to be a first wash.
I only had time that day to get it to the stage shown above. Time was up, for both the workshop and the specimen! I was confident that I had enough information to be able to finish it at home. Not altogether the case, however. I wasn’t sure what was happening with the petals at the top left. I knew that the light was strongest on them, so I hoped that I would only need to suggest shape and hue. If the painting reads well (ie convinces us that this really is a rose) then our brains fill in the rest.
The next photo shows the tonal drawing, done on tracing paper, over the top of the work in progress. You can see how the tonal drawing helps to determine where the darks should be.
And finally, the finished painting!
I am very please with the painting, especially as an early attempt at a rose. (It is available for sale in my Etsy shop. Either follow this link, or click on the photo.) Maybe now I am enough of a Grown Up Painter to do more roses!