I'm super happy to say two of my paintings are in the Peninsula Art League show! It's the first time I've been actively entering my art into shows and the first time I've been in one since 2015. Too bad that like many art shows this year, this show is online only. Would have enjoyed looking at all the wonderful art in person.
In the last week or so, I've been trying out a couple of new things -- using water mixable oils, and using the Zorn palette for portrait painting. I've always wanted to try out water mixable oils after hearing about them from other artists, and when it came time to order more titanium white oil paints, I decided to get a water soluble oil version, plus a limited palette for trying it out.
I decided to get the colors in the Zorn palette, since it's a classic limited palette for painting portraits. The Zorn palette. Named after the Swedish artist Anders Zorn, the colors are traditionally lead white, vermillion, yellow ochre, and ivory black. I used Titanium White, Pyrrole Red, Yellow Ochre, and Ivory Black. Lead white and vermillion (a mercury based pigment) are toxic, and aren't readily available, so I replaced them with safer, modern pigments.
Limited palettes are really useful to force a certain color harmony by limiting your color gamut -- that is, the range of colors that you can make. Since the Zorn palette has no blue, you can't really make greens; the best you can do is a greenish gray by mixing the black and yellow ochre. You can also only get some muted purples. So essentially you can only get colors with intense chroma in the red family. Here's a sense of the range of colors you can mix:
It turns out that limiting the colors was quite helpful to me, because I didn't have to think too much about color mixing, and instead got to focus more on values and drawing accuracy for my head studies. I used reference images from New Master's Academy, where I am taking a drawing course. Here's the results:
The water mixable oils feel just like oil paints when straight out of the tube, but they do feel less and less like oils as you add water to them. You can get mediums specifically made for water mixable oils as well, to keep the experience more consistent. Also, I believe you can mix regular oil paints and mediums with water soluble oils, except you will lose the water soluble properties of the paint.
Since I can use water for thinning the paint, I don't have to use solvents, even to do those washy under paintings that a lot of artists like to do. Cleanup is a breeze, I can quickly clean the brushes with just soap and water. I really like this medium, I think I'm basically going to replace my oil paints with water mixable oils over time, as the old tubes run out.
I love painting outdoors. I love seeing the actual landscape I'm trying to paint in front of me, I love feeling like I'm immersed in the same reality as the things I'm painting.
When I paint en plein air, I typically use acrylics as my painting medium. There are many advantages to painting outdoors with acrylics:
- It dries quicky, so I don't typically have to bring a separate wet painting carrier.
- Acrylic painting is free of toxic solvents. Acrylics are water based, so I just carry an extra water bottle.
- I don't have to worry about oily rag disposal, acrylic painting rags go in the trash, and that's it.
- Wide variety of support materials, you can paint on paper, or canvas, or pretty much every kind of panel.
Also, if you're using canvas or canvas panels, make sure to not use oil primed canvases, acrylics tend to not stick on them very well.
- Ultramarine Blue (PB29)
- Phthalo Blue (PB15)
- Yellow Azo Medium (PY74)
- Napthol Red Light (PR9)
- Quinacridone Magenta (PR122)
- Titanium White (PW6)
I also use a palette knife for mixing paint, and occasionally applying paint as well.
Other Itemsbrush washer might work better.
Although you can usually use the surface of your pochade box as a palette, I use grey toned palette paper instead. I cut several sheets of paper to the size of the pochade box, and staple them together.
I also carry paper towels for wiping my brushes, and a plastic bag to stuff the dirty paper towels. I used to carry a little spritzer to periodically wet my painting and palette, to help keep the paint from drying out too quickly. But lately, I've just learned to accept the quick drying nature of acrylic paints.
I usually bring a sketchbook, and a pen for sketching thumbnails, and general sketching.
Also, a hat, some sunscreen, a packed lunch and water are always a good idea :). Happy painting!
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The next one is a painting from Plein Air Washington Artists annual paint-in; we usually start and cap the painting season with an indoor painting session and pot luck. It’s always enjoyable to reconnect with old friends and meet new members. We had a set up this time with multiple models sitting together, which is great for me since I rarely have the opportunity to paint 2 models at the same time.
This was more of challenge than I thought initially, even though most of these were really small paintings. But I feel like I've really improved as an artist by taking on this challenge. I'm a big believer in brush miles; that your work improves just by doing a lot of it. And I've been quite gratified to hear some of my friends actually tell me that my art has visibly improved as they followed my journey on Facebook.
In addition to practice, I've also taken lessons from Jim Lamb, Darrell Anderson, gotten some great advice from Jamie Bollenbach, and even online critiques from Phil Starke. One thing I've learned landscape-wise is to not just work on making far things look far via aerial perspective, but also to try to make near things look near, with values, color, and even thickness of paint.
I'm trying to start blogging more regularly again; I think I'll start by talking about some of the works that I enjoyed the most from last year's series in the next few weeks.