My Blog List

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Big Red

Big Red. it'll kill another color if you let it.

A little dab will do you when it comes to red. Talk about taking over the place! Very little red is needed to dominate another color.  On the twelve color palette, the only color that came close to holding it's own was Cadmium Yellow Medium.  But I found Burnt Umbra on this chart. It's a mix of CRM and Viridian.  It whites out to a coolish gray, but then Titanium White is bluish. It's addition to any color cools it down and grays it out.

With the completion of this chart, I'm down to the last quarter--supposedly. However, there are 12 colors on Richard Schmid's  (supreme painter and author of Alla Prima, a must have book for any painter in oils) suggested palette. Since the first panel is  the 12 suggested colors taken five steps towards white, there will be thirteen charts when the clock runs out as each color is studied.  The designer that I am, must have fourteen charts on the wall. So I will investigate Ivory Black with each of the colors. I have nothing against black on the palette-- as long as it's mixed with another pigment.
A Tube Color Chart with five steps towards black seems logical. 

Till today's chart, my painting of Rain, a large canvas that requires a lot of paint,  has been most useful. It demanded many of the colors I stumbled across through the last charts completed.  Finding the colors that applied, also provided an invigorating break from the tedium of chart making.

As Richard Schmid explains chart making:

"My advice--my plea to you--is to do the charts for your sake. (Do not use mine). The charts are not a sure-fire gimmick guaranteed to make you a color wizard, but they are the best way I know of to understand your pigments and enter the study of color on sound footing. Take your time, don't be in a rush just to get them done. Stay alert and see what is happening, not only on your palette, but within yourself.  Impatience will well up, so will exasperation as you make mistakes or struggle with decisions about the right color and value, but I urge you to stick with it. In a way, the charts are intended to be agonizing sp that you will develop the patience and self-control so necessary in painting.  It should be like an initiation ritual before what is to come, so you may endure it without giving up.  As a dancer learns to tolerate pain and endless falls in order to some day soar with grace, so must you have the stubbornness to mix a color until it is precisely what you require to make your painting sing."

It was this paragraph that made me decide to carry out the charting project. A craftsman is only as good as what he knows. Color is the main tool of painting. Knowing one's palette intimately seemed to be a logical  step in my transition to oil paints from acrylics and from dilettante to an artist with skills.

Rain, a detail of a painting, 3'0" x 5'0", in progress.



  1. How much work after the holidays! Green and red, now, for you, no more secrets after these exercises! Being able to master the medium of painting is a good feeling for any artist! You worked so well and so hard and I hope you can express what you want alla prima with your amazing "palettes " of colors!

    1. Working from my photographs, photoshopped to play up whatever effect I'm after, the ability to zoom in to the right hue without a lot of blind mixing makes charting the palette worthwhile. As for mastering the alla prima technique, the hardest approach to painting, that will take many more paint sketches. I'd like to eliminate under drawing, stick with just free hand under painting.

  2. another wonderful chart! What gorgeous colors. Love the Rain painting...!

    1. And there's five to go. I 'be decided to add a chart for black with the tube colors. It will familiarize me with the grays available using black as the secondary mix. White of course cools, or grays, every color down. Next I want to study glazes. rain might need some toning? I showed you just a third of that painting. It's almost time to flip it up side down to develop the bottom third. It's been a while since I tackled a canvas that big and even a longer while since I've used oils. A little study of the substance isn't a bad idea, just a boring one. :-))