Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homeopathic whites

Here I am. I have dropped back the schedule on writing the blog to every other day or even every third day for a while. I have so much unfinished work in my studio. Those of you with various "feed" will get the blogs when I publish them and you who find me through Facebook will get the link on your home page when I publish. This is not a symptom of the blog ending. I have a lot more to write about. I keep a sort of flow chart so that when an idea for a post occurs to me I write it down, with little arrows like a genealogical tree showing how a series of posts might follow.

I am going to write about Homeopathy a little bit, not because of the practice itself, although I will tell you a little of that as an aside, but because I am going to describe a procedure in painting by comparison .

Homeopathy is an alternative medical philosophy invented by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Hahnemann was writing in an era when medicine was primitive, ineffectual and often painful and dangerous. He expounded a theory of "similars". That is, he believed that a very small dose of a substance that would give you a symptom, was useful for treating someone who had that same symptom. So if you had a problem with skin rashes he might have given you something that would cause skin rashes, like Poison Ivy. Because the remedies often contained noxious. or poisonous ingredients Hahnemann diluted them. In fact he believed that the more diluted they were, they more efficacious they would be. He would put a sprinkling of an ingredient, like salt or arsenic into a beaker of water. Then he would take a tiny eyedropper from that and dilute it with another entire beaker of water. From that beaker he would take another eyedropperful and add it to third beaker, and so on. Often the mixtures made contained no molecules of the original active ingredient actually present in the final remedy.

Homeopathy is discredited today although there are homeopathic remedies on the market. ZiCam for colds is a well known one, and there are people who compound and sell homeopathic remedies. Many of the products available today that say they are homeopathic, are not actually created by this dilution system. They just use the word to mean all natural, and harmless, selling their products to people who are unfamiliar with the actual definition of what a homeopathic remedy is.

The reason I brought all of this up is to talk about mixing paint on the palette though. My long suffering pink camera seems to have died, so I shot the following pictures with my cell phone. They aren't very good, but you should be able to see what I am up to.

I sometimes paint passages in extremely high values, notes that are very close to white but carry a smidgen of a color.This is useful in skies or the sides of boats in sunlight etc. I can mix up a pile of color to paint these passages this way, like a homeopath. I make a very high key (light) note using a lot of white and a pigment. In the picture below I used cadmium yellow.

Then I take a smidgen (like an eyedropperful) of that mixture and throw it into a new pile of white. That is shown below.

Often I will do this to three or so different pigments, with white, creating three piles that are very close to white but contain a little red or blue or yellow. With those three piles I can work in an extremely high value in broken color. I can use each of those different tints to express the turning of a form in bright sunlight.


Snowcamp I is full. I have a few spaces left in Snowcamp II if you want one now would probably be the time to sign up. If there is sufficient interest I may be able to add a third session I am not sure. The link is over there on the right in my sidebar.


whopaints said...

Homeopathy saved my middle child... who is now so healthy I can bring oils back into my life.
This post wedded two so different elements illuminating both! A true haiku. Wonderful.

Philip Koch said...

I can appreciate Stape needing to drop back to a less than daily schedule for blog writing.

From my own blog, which I've found very enjoyable to write, I've learned they're a real time thief. What starts out as the germ of a short idea for a blog starts to swell into a whole series of related ideas. And before you know it an hour or two has gone by. So much as I'm saddened by the reduced schedule, I'm sympathetic to Stape's need for food, rest and other luxuries.

Brady said...

I'm going to have to try that with the whites. Usually I just mix it up as I go.

On my own blog I dropped it back to once a week since it can take me up to 4 or 5 hours to research, write, proofread, and spell and grammar check. I wasn't getting much painting done with a 5 post a week schedule, and I've actually been a little in awe of your daily posts since you're probably way busier than me.

Steve Baker said...

Glad to hear the blog won't fade away, I very much appreciate the effort you put into it and always look forward to reading.
I have to admit I didn't know that history/definition of homeopathy. Interesting.

billspaintingmn said...

Stape! Time isn't the only reason to cut back on blogging,(for me)

I need to get the ball rolling. I enjoy the time I get to read yours and others. Always an inspiration!

Next time you come to Minnesota, give me a call if you can.

My bottle of Moxie says it's an elixir, will I grow 32 feet tall? Or just 32 feet?

Philip Koch said...

Just ran across a very different take on jurying from the abstract painter Joanne Mattera's blog. I thought probably more than a few readers of Stape's series on jurying processes would enjoy her take on what's it's like being a juror-

I know this really belongs in the earlier Jurying blog posts, but I figured if I responded there few would see it.

stapeliad said...

Hi Stape, my condolences on the passing of your pink camera. My previous camera committed suicide by jumping into a duck pond. It is sad when they die.

I have found myself doing the homeopathy thing with light values as well. But usually just one color at a time, will have to try it with multiple tints.

Mary Byrom said...

Stapleton, Glad to hear that's its only blog rescheduling . Smart move - a painter needs to paint! My blog (like everyone else's) is a time eater to write just once or twice a week- I could barely image you doing it everyday, painting and teaching ...and traveling!
The pink camera...too bad, but you do know they are manufactured for only so many shutter clicks then its over. (My D70 went to the max number of clicks then... zip...nothing- like someone shut the lights off.)

Nice homeopathic whites... and then there's that other lovely group the sensitive grays...

Steve Pero said...

or is that homeopathetic?

Philip, interesting article. Very good synopsis of her thought processes.

We are finally allowed back into parts of the forest here (post fire) but it's pretty depressing and not very paintworthy. Today I took some photos of mudslides and debris flows from the burn areas after some rain. A month after the fire started, and having been washed downhill in a thunderstorm and debris flow, and some logs are still smoldering. It boggles the mind....

Stapleton Kearns said...

whopaints ;

Stapleton Kearns said...

Philip Koch;
An hour or two is an understatement.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Yes 4 or 5 hours is not a long time to write and publish a post.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Steve Baker;
No I am just moving to a more sustainable schedule.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Time is always rushing along and I am trying to do so much!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sometimes what I write seems obvious to the experienced but a revelation to early learners.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Sometimes what I write seems obvious to the experienced but a revelation to early learners.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Mary Byrom ;
Mine has clicked its last click, I guess.

Stapleton Kearns said...

At least you didn't get burned out.