Saturday, January 31, 2009

A New Year and Color Charts


A fresh start to the New Year with Color Charts!
Our Christmas celebration wouldn't be complete without new art books! This year I asked for Alla Prima, Everything I Know About Painting by Richard Schmid. I must have been very good because Santa got it for me!
I love Richard Schmid's work. He always paints alla prima (from life) and his paintings have that fresh, just painted quality. His work is uncomplicated, simple and fresh. Yet that uncomplicated, simple and fresh quality is one of the most difficult painting techniques to master!
I read the book in a couple of evenings, particularly the section on color. Richard suggests making color charts to learn one's palette better, and I thought, if he does it, I will too! I spent the better part of January creating 14 color charts, one for each color on my palette, which is the same palette Schmid says he uses.
Here's how I did each chart. I taped a sheet of 9 x 12 Fredrix Canvas Pad to an 11 x 14 gessoed masonite panel. (Allan and I have lots of these laying around). Then I divided the sheet into 11 rows across by seven columns down. I split pieces of regular masking tape lengthwise into thirds and adhered it across the rows and columns. (This created a clean break between each color mixture).
Following Schmid's instructions, I mixed every color with every other color on my palette, and added white in six increments. The colors on my palette (with abbreviations) are:
  • Titanium White
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon - CYL
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale - CYP
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep - CYD
  • Yellow Ochre Pale - YOP
  • Cadmium Red - CR
  • Terra Rosa - TR
  • Alizarin Crimson - AC
  • Burnt Sienna - BS
  • Cobalt Violet - CV
  • Cobalt Blue - CB
  • Ultramarine Blue - UB
  • Viridian - V
You can see the Cadmium Yellow Pale chart above. The first column is the palette color Cadmium Yellow Pale (CYP) mixed with increasing amounts of Titanium White. The next column is CYP mixed with CL, followed by CYP and CYD, followed by CYP and YOP, followed by CYP and CR, and so on.
When the chart was finished I removed the tape and set it to dry for about a week. Each chart took about 2.5 hours. I didn't use any medium. I used a boatload of white. But I figure, if it helps me be a better painter, it's worth it!
I definitely feel I have a better grasp of color mixing, particularly those tricky grays. I hope my first painting in 2009 is better, thanks to all these color chart studies. Special thanks to Santa Claus (AKA Allan) for bringing me this book! If you want to learn how to mix colors, I definitely recommend Richard Schmid's book.