Sunday, October 26

Why Is It Called Payne's Grey?

Well, I'm sure you can look up information on Payne's grey yourself, but I'm happy to provide some information here that you may find interesting if not useful.

Payne's grey is the bluish-black very dark grey color that probably isn't on your palette, and you may never think to use it either. However, occasionally I have found it very useful in mixing cool dark neutrals or for cool shadows.

Anyway, I suppose I also wanted to do a blog on this to complete my "trilogy" of blogs about where several paint colors got their names, the other two colors being Hooker's green and Davy's grey. Here are links to those blogs: Why Is It Called Hooker's Green? and Why Is It Called Davy's Grey (Who Was Davy?) 

From, Marion Boddy-Evans tells us that "The color Payne's Grey is named after a British watercolorist and art lecturer, William Payne (1760--1830), who recommended the mixture to students as a more subtle alternative to a gray mixed from black and white. In Artist's Pigments: c.1600-1835 Payne's grey is stipulated to originally have been "a mixture of (crimson) lake, raw sienna and indigo."1 (When referring to the original, remember "grey" will be spelt the British way with an 'e', not the American way with an 'a'.)"

In addition, a very complete discussion on Wikipedia about William Payne tells us "but the invention by which he is best known is a neutral tint composed of indigo, raw sienna, and (crimson) lake called Payne's grey. His methods were regarded as tricky by the old-fashioned practicians of the day. but there is no doubt that he did much to advance the technique of watercolour painting, and was one of the first 'draughtsmen' to abandon mere topography for a more poetical treatment of landscape scenery."

Now you know as much as I about these three painters from the mists of history and how they came to be immortalized in paint colors.

Tuesday, October 21

Painting is Not a Business

Beach Day
Acrylic on Watercolor Paper
9 x 12 in/22.9 x 30.5 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
(OK, it is a business if you're a gallery owner.)

But if you are a painter, it's not really a business, is it? It's a passion, or it should be; otherwise, are you really a painter? It's an unpleasant truth, maybe, or at least a conundrum.

What's a painter to do? You've got to eat, and you may have other mouths to feed as well. As you know, only a tiny fraction of a very, very few painters become rich and famous strictly from their paintings (or anything else) while they are still living.

There are painters who are able make a living by selling their paintings from a gallery or galleries and/or website. I wish you the greatest success. Often, however, painting is the step-child to an alternative way to make ends meets. Life is hard, as we all know, especially for painters.

What painters usually do is either teach art or hold (a lot of) workshops or some combination of those.

I hold art teachers in the highest esteem because they are about the only people around today who actually contribute anything relating to the arts to most students. To them I say, there is no higher calling.

For those who paint and also hold (a lot of) workshops, you fill a great niche for those who want to learn to paint or to improve their skills. Keep up the good work; may your classes and easels always be full.

Come to think of it, there are other painters. There are the true-believer, "starving artists" who somehow manage to paint full-time and not starve, May the force be with you. Then there are the dilettantes who really don't have to work, so they decide to paint. To you I say, really!?

Whatever station you fit into in the world of painting, remember it's not a business. It's a passion, or it should be.

Tuesday, October 14

Do Not Overwork Your Painting!

Autumn House
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
Yikes. I did it again last week. I overworked the painting I was working on for a couple of days.

Not today's image; I painted this one immediately after discarding the overworked painting, so as not to lose confidence. It's like getting back up on the horse that threw you.

I'm not showing the painting I overworked, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it was overworked.

How do you know when you've overworked your painting? Unfortunately, there's no line of demarcation to let you know you've gone too far. That's why it's difficult to know when to stop.

Here are a few tell-tale signs that I'm going, or have already gone, too far. Maybe these signs will help you realize it as well:

- A general overall  feeling of uneasiness about the painting

- Wanting it to be more of a painting than it can possibly be

- Painting over or scraping off perfectly good areas of the painting

- Thinking that adding more detail will help, and then adding totally unnecessary details

- Saying to yourself, "What else does this need?"

- No idea when it will be finished

- Adding just one additional brush stroke to make it perfect

Knowing when to quit is often as important as other aspects of painting, sometimes even more than the planning, composition, color, or value.

Stop it! Do not overwork your painting!

Monday, October 6

I Love Flats and Filberts

Paradise Found
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
16 x 20 in/40.6 x 50.8 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2014
Think about the letter F next time you're painting.

I have discovered that almost all of the paintings I like to paint (and/or aspire to paint) are painted using Flats and Filberts. If you can't remember those names, then at least remember the letter F to jog your memory.

I'm speaking of two types and shapes of paint brushes, of course.

Flats are just what you'd expect from the name. They are broad, almost square in shape, with a horizontal ferrule giving them their flat shape. They come in all sizes from 02 up to large house-painting brushes five or more inches across that can be used for painting paintings as well as houses

Flats have squared-off corners that allow you to apply paint in broad, flat slabs of color. They are great because they let you leave out all those unnecessary detail strokes while still maintaining absolute control. I love them.

Filberts are similar to flats in shape, although they are generally somewhat narrower. The big difference, of course, is that their corners are not at 90-degree angles but gently rounded off. This allows you to apply broad flat slabs of color like flats, but since they are rounded off, you can more easily blend the paint when two or more colors or values meet (even with acrylics). They come in all sizes, too, although I haven't ever seen any Filbert house-painting brushes. I love them.

You may not know this, but from Wikipedia I learned:"The filbert paintbrush derives from the shape it resembles, that of a hazelnut with its namesake. This word comes from the Old French filbert, coming from noix de (nut of) Philibert. Philibert was a saint, (who died in 684), whereby the ripening of the nut in August coincides with his feast day." Try dropping that into the conversation at your next cocktail party...

So, think about the letter F next time you're painting. I love Flats and Filberts.