Friday, January 23, 2009

My palette 2

Here is a picture I painted this last fall in Jefforsonville,Vermont . I made this picture outside on a rainy day using only yellow ochre, ivory black, Indian red and white. That's an odd sort of a palette for an outdoor painter but I was trying to respond to the grayness of the day in a way that might give me a more interesting painting, its a 16x20.
In the last post I mentioned the chromatic versus earth color palette ideas and I have chosen to show this picture to illustrate an extreme opposite of the currently popular three color chromatic palettes. I actually worked on a three color chromatic palette for several years about 10 years ago, and there's a good story there too. It seems like everything I write, reminds me of something else I must write.
Onwards with the palette presentation continuing from the last post. You may want to refer back to My palette 1 for its' picture again.
Starting below the white on the left side of the palette is;

Gold ochre, another earth color, this is a slightly more yellow version of yellow ochre. You probably want yellow ochre here. but you might check out the golden version, Some companies make a yellow ocher light and deep as well. Raw sienna and mars yellow both fit into this slot on the palette. Like other earth colors this is a dependable workhorse of a color and I could mix nearly the same hue from chromatic colors but its nice to have it there and ready to use, and there is a nice sort of "acoustic" look to the earth colors. I once bought a tube of Sennelier yellow ochre and it was dirty and weak. I realized that I was so used to our modern lab made versions of this color I was unaware of what the real earth color of the old masters was like. Rembrandt would be very impressed with my palette, I am not so sure he would be that impressed with my paintings though.

Ultramarine blue. I use a lot of this, after white its the color of which I use the most. Sometimes I take it off my palette just for disciplines sake. It is a slightly reddish blue. My palette has a warm and a cool version of each hue. Ultramarine is my warm blue, Prussian is my cool blue. I prefer the ultramarine deep or the French ultramarine when a manufacturer gives me a choice. Good ultramarine has clarity, cheap ultramarine is dirty. Quality ultramarine is like butter and cheap ultramarine is slimy.

Viridian green is a lovely bluish green that has become very expensive in the last few years. Its quality has also dropped, it seems to me that it goes gritty on the palette much more quickly than it used to or should. RGH makes one and though they aren't giving it away it is still affordable. Viridian mixed with a lot of white is good in skies and a tolerable replacement for cerulean blue which has also become very expensive. Lately I have been experimenting with Thalo green deep, I am not sure if I can live with it as an inexpensive substitute for viridian or not. It is of course much more powerful.

Quinacridone red, I was taught to paint with alizirin crimson and in those days it was a standard artists pigment. It had many faults, it had a bloody, blacky sort of a color and was impermanent and handled poorly. Some years ago manufacturers began selling Permanent Alizirin which was of course not alizirin at all. It is usually quinacridone. The ideal color for this slot is probably genuine rose madder. That is a wonderful color, rather than being bloody like alizirin, it has an organic roseate hue that is warm, clear and lovely like roses themselves. When I was on a three color palette this was my red. It is about 35 dollars for a 37 ml. tube. This is, in my estimation, the best argument for being rich. Sometime when you feel flush, treat yourself to a tube of Winsor and Newtons' genuine rose madder, it is like a good box pressed maduro from the Dominican Republic, one of life's' finest experiences. I should mention I suppose that it is not entirely permanant.
Quinacridone isn't cheap either but it is roseate in hue, permanent and dependable. If you buy a tube of permanent rose this is what you will get. It wont stomp on your mixtures like some of the other cool red pigments, delicacy is the" pearl of great price" in the cool reds.

Lastly, Ivory black.. A lot of outdoor painters eschew the use of black and there's a good reason for that. In the hands of tyros (now there's an antique word) it brings on disaster. It is not to be used to make the shadow note by adding it to the color of an object in the light. THE SHADOW IS A SEPARATE COLOR FROM THE LIGHT, AND NOT THE COLOR OF THE LIGHT PLUS BLACK! It is virtually always better to add the compliment of a color to any note to reduce it. Black is only useful when perceived as a color of its own. Sometimes painters talk about painting clean, for them black is an anathema. Another philosophy thinks of putting the right color of mud in the right place. I fall into the latter camp. If a color is too red I add green, if it's to yellow I add purple, etc. That's sort of like the difference between playing a fretted instrument and playing a violin (which has no frets) I play across the colors rather than clearly hitting only the separate notes in each octave. See what I mean? Now I have to write a post on compound color vs. simple color. I will label that post inominate color. I sometimes do small black and white studies for larger paintings.
Well its bedtime and I'd better throw my palette out in the trunk of the car to keep it from drying out overnight! My wife and kids hate it when I put it in the refrigerator on top of the leftover pizza.


Mary Bullock said...

HI Stapleton:
Great explanation about the reds - I really love Permanent Rose and now I know why.
Also, I just love that painting at the top of your post and I am amazed at the colors you chose - I never would have guessed. Wonderful discipline and masterful mixing! Can't wait for your next post - Mary

Stapleton Kearns said...

The next post is a little different. I wrote it both because some self promotion is one of my purposes here, but also because I have been around the New England traditional painting scene
since it was a very small subculture and I do have a story that should probably be written down.
In the academic world people are licensed and certified,and they don't need to present a resume.In the entries I will mark as autobiographical I will provide a sort of curriculum vitae. There are a lot of blogs by artists out there jostling for attention and I hope to justify the existence of mine. There is so much to write about, I haven't even started talking about making paintings yet. I am still laying the groundwork for discussions yet to come. I will return to the useful after the next one, when I will continue writing about materials and equipment as it seems necessary to get that out of the way first. I will however try and change it up every few posts by writing about something else. Again thanx for following along. Stape