Starting out with that first box of 8 crayons was quite fun but oh! when I got my first box of 64 I was ecstatic! And then there was more!
So when I hear of artists using a limited palette I ask, why?
Anders Zorn used yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion and titanium white. That’s it! And he produced brilliant masterpieces.
Many artists choose a palette that includes warm and cool primaries, red, blue, and yellow, plus white. Scott Christensen uses just red, blue and yellow with some grays as values to modify color and tone. Carol Marine adds burnt umber to her primaries. Kathleen Dunphy includes Naples Yellow Deep and a gray.
A limited palette has many advantages. If you are a Plein air painter (painting outdoors) you have less to carry. Also when you mix all your colors from these limited colors you should be able to create harmony in your work.
On the flip side there are artists such as Karin Jurik who love, love, love color and with maybe 80 colors in her studio, puts out probably 45 or more on her palette—a pizza pan. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAIs1S_zAMI) Having so many to choose from can make you lazy. But Karin mixes every paint she uses.
As I read about artists whose work I admire I like to buy a color or two that they mention as their favorite or a color they find highly useful. So although I basically work with a split primary palette (warm and cool) plus white, I have collected indeed my box of 64 and more!
Here is my latest piece, “On the Road Again”, 10×20” oil on canvas.
Many, many artists talk about painting the light ever since the Impressionist put paint in tube and went outdoors to paint.
Lately I’ve been interested with the color white. I say color because depending on the light and shadow, and what is around it, white takes on many nuances of color.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s when John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla (two artists I admire) were painting there was a lot of full, white fabric around, especially worn by women and children, as well as in the sails of boats.
These white houses and the challenge of the shadows, and the flowers caught my eye.
Everyone loves the water, to be near it if not on it.
What is it? Is it the sound? The waves or the movement? The way the light dances on the surface? The mystery of what lies beneath?
I love the reflections, and the light and distorted images of whatever is near. And there is always life around water—flying over it, jumping in it or out of it. And always a breeze. And I love to paint it.
I took photography in college but now I mostly snap pics on my IPhone. I can compose my shots in the camera giving me good reference to paint from later. Painting outdoors is great, but as I’m painting one thing I see a dozen more things around me I want to paint.
I have friends who are photographers and who are generous enough to allow me to use their photos from time to time as reference for my paintings. They have more patience than I do to get some fantastic shots. This “White Iris” was shot by my friend, Deb Drew Brown, which I turned into paint.
When we are quiet, when we observe, when we are still, we let it in. We let in nature, as it will begin to trust us. We let in beauty as we see more. We let in peace as we connect with the heartbeat of the universe.
Or, like this little kitty, well, he is trying to let in his next meal I suppose.
Creating a piece of art is not enough if you put it out into the world. A titled is required. Some artists think the art should speak for itself and “Untitled” is sufficient. Most viewers would like more. They would like to gain a little insight from the title. What was the artist thinking when they created this piece?
More likely, what was the artist thinking when they created this title?
Obvious titles such as “Apples in a Bowl” at least allow a way to inventory the work. I am guilty all too often of taking this easy way out. Other options are to pick a small, bright spot in the work, or the focal point.
Some artists look to poetry, songs, quotes, religion, books, or humor to find their titles. If you paint a lake you might avoid the name of the lake or you may turn off potential buyers because it’s not their lake.
Every once in awhile when I come up with my concept for the piece, I come up with the title at the same time. That’s the best. I feel like I’m on a first name basis with my art before I’ve even painted it. How can that not turn out good?
After much soul searching and staring at my new painting I came up with “Ethereal Glow” for the title. I didn’t want to be obvious—”Fish in Pond”, Koi and Goldfish”, or “Sunlit something”. They certainly did glow in the sun, and looked somewhat heavenly as they swam in and out of the green and blue depths. What do you think?
Fall weather has been great this year. Sunny and warm is not a day to be in the studio. I took a day to be outside in the sun and fresh air getting inspired and taking pics. Potter Park Zoo and Hawk Island Park provided me with both.
I could’ve set up to paint on site, but I wanted to get as many photos as I could for the upcoming studio time when the weather won’t be so nice. Photos and some notes will provide the inspiration making the creation of the art just a matter of getting into the “zone” and putting on the paint. (Oh, ho! if only it were that easy!)
But for me the vision, the excitement has to be inside before anything worthwhile shows up on the canvas. And the light and colors of this fall day was quite thrilling.