Sunday, February 26

I Think I Am Finally Getting the Hang of This

I'm Getting the Hang of Painting Looser
As the headline of today’s blog says, I think I am finally getting the hang of this—painting in a more loose and open style, that is. I believe I’m in good company because Auguste Renoir said the same thing, rather comically I presume, "I think I am beginning to get the hang of this," not long before his death in 1919. (Note: in no way am I comparing myself to Renoir.)

Anyway, the point is I feel I have made progess in my wish, desire, quest (pick one) to change styles and master the ability to paint looser.

I paint in watercolor and acrylic, and for the last year I have been on a mission to paint in a freer, less detailed, more impressionistic style by capturing what I see and expressing it more loosely and quickly.

It’s not an easy thing to do--change your style, I mean--in case you've never tried it.

But it’s one of the ways we grow as painters and artists. If, and I should say when, you find yourself on a plateau art-wise, that means you are ready to expand your horizons, so to speak, and try something new.

Today’s image is the first painting in which I feel as though I am finally getting the hang of painting looser.

Progress in painting is good.

So, Keep on Painting.

Monday, February 20

Mixing Believable Greens

I’ll get right to the point: few things spoil a painting quicker than using a green or greens that aren’t either 1) natural looking or 2) appropriate for the motif.
 I discovered two colors for mixing what I think are the most natural-looking greens for your outdoor and landscape paintings-- at least in my humble opinion.
Many, many painters think you must have at least one tube green in your palette, if not more.  I used to be one of them. Yes, there are some greens in nature, and especially in photos, that you just can’t match without using a tube green, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
If you are like me, you probably already have a bin full of tubes of Hookers, Sap, Olive, Viridian, Chromium Oxide, Brilliant Yellow Green, Pthalo and other greens as well.
I maintain that you don’t need to use any of these tube greens. You do, however, need to change your thinking and choices of the greens you use in your paintings. Be creative and inquisitive and inventive by mixing a green(s) that comes as close to the color you’re after.
That is, mix some blues and yellows that make a green that comes as close as possible to the green in your motif. A mixed green will enhance and improve the harmony in your painting, and it will look more natural.
What are the two colors that I think are the best for mixing the most natural looking greens?
Payne’s Gray (the blue) and Lemon Yellow.
Try them yourself and see the great variety of greens you get from a light soft yellow green all the way to a dark woodsy green and everything in between. These really are the greens found most in nature and in landscapes, plants, and trees, as seen both in the distance and in the foreground.
Keep on Painting

Monday, February 13

The Power of RED

Red is the color of Valentine’s Day.

Red is also the strongest color in your color palette, in case you hadn’t noticed, no matter in what medium you render your artistic masterpieces.

In pastel, colored pencil, oil, acrylic, and certainly watercolor, red grabs the attention of your viewer quicker than any other element you employ, and it just won’t let go. As my friend, the painter, says, “Red will eat you up.”

An old story in painting goes something like this:

“If you want your painting noticed, paint it big. If you can’t paint it big, paint it red. But if you really want your painting noticed, paint it big AND red.”

I don’t know that I agree with that strategy, but it is certainly true. Scientifically, the colors we see as red are the longest wavelengths in light, according to Wikipedia, but who cares about that?

What is important is how it looks and feels.

When planning your painting (if you are one of those painters who do that) keep in mind that your viewer will be forced to look at the reds, wherever you paint them in your painting. That is, if you paint something red, and it wasn’t your focal point, well, now it is. Just wanted to make sure you knew that.

I’m sure you’ve had this experience when mixing red: you’re using it to make orange by adding it to yellow, or perhaps you’re adding it to green to make a dark. “I’ll add just one more drop,” you say, and  the whole thing turns red instantly! Dang.

Yes, there are cool reds, such as alizarin, and there are warm reds, such as cadmium red light, but remember, they are all still red and will act and react accordingly.

There’s no doubt, red evokes a mood, if not a response. When we see red (and I don’t mean the expression for anger in English) we usually feel something along the lines of intensity, vibrancy, action, heat, and WoW!

That’s the power of red. You can understand its connection with Valentine’s Day.

Keep on Painting

Monday, February 6

The Pitfalls of Watercolor

Watercolor is not the type of painting you do on a whim—not if you want your work to be entered in a show or given as a gift or even hung in your own studio.

If you don’t give it the attention it deserves (requires, that is), then you will fail miserably.
Here are the main reasons painters have trouble with watercolor:

- Using way too much water (you need some water either on the paper and/or in the paint, but not that much in BOTH places)

- Not using enough paint (for some reason, you think you’re wasting money by actually using the paint you purchased to do what—paint!)

- Using crummy, cheap watercolor paper (you don’t have to buy the most expensive, hand-made paper, but don’t use the bargain-basement brand either, which will ripple and warp at the first drop of water)

- Being heavy–handed (by not learning how to paint with a light touch brush, and I mean feather-light, you will continue to have little control and poor results)

- Not taking time to learn about your palette colors and what they can achieve (quit changing your palette colors every other week)

- Never learning how to properly paint lights and darks, which adds depth and dimension to your motifs (your paintings are either all lights and weak or all dark and muddy--wrong!)

- Not practicing, practicing, practicing (as one professional said, you will go through a LOT of paper before you become proficient)

I hope this helps you to overcome some of the pitfalls of watercolor.

Keep on Painting