Monday, July 30, 2012

Kathleen Dunphy's palette

Every time I paint outside I feel a little panic. Not because of bugs or wind or even snakes. It's the changing light and color that always get to me.

I recently read a couple of blog posts by Kathleen Dunphy about her color palette. I decided to give it a try and I've used it 3 times now with great satisfaction! I thought maybe it was beginner's luck, so I used it again on a commission I was working on in the studio also. Great again. And yesterday I used it at the lake, painting red rocks which I love, but always have found to be a frustration. My previous post about painting at Alcova is about the process.

Color has definitely been my area of struggle since taking up oils. When I worked in pastel I had a limited palette because I had a limited number of pastels I was willing to haul around. They're heavy! Since moving to oils, I've had more trouble because I have so many choices of colors I can mix. People who see my work may not thinks so, but I know so. That's why I'm thrilled with this palette.

So, what is this palette? It's a limited palette, using only 6 tubes of paint. The brands are important so if you decide to try this, make sure you get the right brands. They are Rembrandt Cold Grey, Rembrandt Naples Yellow Deep, Rembrandt Permanent Red, Utrecht Cadmium Yellow Lemon and any brand of Ultramarine Blue and a White. 

If you're wondering about the piles of color on the right, those are leftovers from the last time I painted, all mixed together to make some nice greys.

I followed Kathleen's order of premixing my colors at the location before beginning to paint. 

I found the process of getting the color and value I wanted much easier than any other palette I've used in the past. I also found I got a wonderful variety of greens much closer to our muted landscape colors here in the west. For instance mixing some cold grey with lemon yellow makes a great green. Then you can warm it up with a little red or cool it off with a bit of ultramarine. Pretty simple. Red is warm, blue is cool. I like that.
Middle mixture is Cold Grey and Utrecht Lemon Yellow, cooled with Ultramarine Blue on the left, warmed with Permanent Red on the right.
Middle mixture is Cold Grey and Permanent Red, cooled with white and more grey on left and cooled with Ultramarine Blue on the right, warmed with a touch of Utrecht Lemon Yellow below.

You can see how easy it is to get some variety and harmony.
Grant's Sheds 9x12, oil              Ginny Butcher

Because of the limited palette I couldn't get myself into trouble with too many choices. I found it easy to get a strong sense of place through good color.
This is the Cold Grey mixed with the Naples Yellow Deep in the middle, a bit more yellow above and a bit of Permanent Red below.
And some purer color mixtures, Naples Yellow Deep with Ultramarine Blue and the same yellow with the Permanent Red.

I hope you'll try this palette yourself if color has been an issue for you as it has for me. And let me know how it's worked for you. I'd love to know.

Happy painting.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Whites, 9x12, oil

Summer Whites, 9x12, oil                            Ginny Butcher
This one is finally finished. It's been hanging around the studio for awhile, being scrutinized every now and then, when my attention lights on it. I noticed a couple of things and changed them. One was the sky. It was a big blue mass. A nice blue, but kind of boring. The clouds seem to fit right in and gave me the idea for the name. I'm satisfied that I got the feel of a hot, sunny, summer day with this one. As you know, I love old buildings, especially white ones. It was really a lot of fun getting this right.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is There a Lion in Your Street?

Two Buds, 8x10, oil                 Ginny Butcher

While the two calves above don't look very threatening, there has been a predator lurking around the edges of my life . . .

And it's a lion! "A lion!" ,you say. Well not exactly, but . . .

Reading the book of Proverbs in the Bible I came across this scripture the other day. "The sluggard says, 'There is a lion outside; I will be killed in the streets!'" (Proverbs 22:13)

As I pondered this (because it seemed so absurd to me at first) I began to realize the sluggard has an excuse, no matter how outlandish, for not doing what he or she ought to be doing, which is something productive.

Now, I don't like to think of myself as a sluggard. After all, I do quite a bit of work, but I had to stop and think about this. Especially because I've also been reading Alyson Stanfield's book,  I'd Rather Be In The Studio, after it was recommended by Keith Bond, as deserving to be read and heeded. Between the two (Proverbs and Alyson's book) I'm getting the message loud and clear - no excuses! no whining!

I had to admit that I've used every excuse Alyson titles her chapters with, for not doing more self-promotion. Ouch! As Nike's over used motto goes, just do it.

Just get ready. Just paint. Just make a contact list. Just write a blog post. Just write an artist's statement. Just update my website. Just call that person. Just show up! Get that lion out of your way! Put yourself in the right place with the right attitude and do the work. One task at a time.

Before you know it, you won't be saying "there's a lion in the street!", you'll be encouraging others to chase away their own lions and get on with whatever they're making excuses for not doing. So . . . get out there and chase your own lions away.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Alcova Red Cliffs, 9x12, oil on canvas

A better photo of the finished painting after I picked the bugs out of the wet oil and touched up a few things at home. I'm looking forward to returning to this area when the weather cools off this fall.

I used a different palette for this painting, which I'll share with you soon. It made things a lot easier for me and hopefully will for you too. Happy painting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Problem Solving at Alcova Lake

We drove out to Alcova Lake this week for our regular Tuesday painting day. It was just one friend and me. After driving around checking out different places we stopped here.  We chose this scene minus the foreground trees.
We found a great little perch atop some red cliffs.
My drawing of the scene. I like to indicate the shaded areas in a scene like this because I get lost in the rocks and the light changes so quickly. I didn't want to chase the light across the scene.
My initial block in.
You can see the paint mixtures I used.
My finished piece, with a little glare from the sun, a 9x12 oil on canvas. 

Since all painting is really a series of problem solving, my problem here was going to be keeping the shadow pattern despite the light shifting quickly. We got here around 7:30 a.m., a little later than I like to start.

I did some notan paintings as I had promised myself I would. (Oh the agony and glory of discipline!) And it did help. I chose this view because of the notan paintings. This one had the most impact because of the large shadowed areas. And I remembered to keep it in mind as I did my block in, even though the light was changing so quickly.

 I pretty much ignored the shifting light and just used it to inform my color choices, while sticking to my original plan. All in all I was pretty happy with the results.
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