Saturday, September 11, 2010

Color Charts: All Sorts of New Lessons

For my non-artist followers, lot's been happening and I'll be updating in a new post (today or tomorrow) about art exhibit acceptances and great art events that are right around the corner (coming up soon) plus other news.

Unmixed Tube Colors
For my artist followers, I've been working away at learning more and more about color. I believe when I'm done (whenever that will be) with concentrating on my own personal color lessons, I will be a true expert... with some great benefits for my future paintings. I plan on sharing what I've learned (to help your future paintings) through a special weekend workshop this Fall or Winter, on my blog and later my web site, and in the regular classes I teach (Portrait Painting and Drawing -- nine week course starting this Monday, September 13, now full and Still Life Painting in Oils -- nine week course starting this coming Tuesday, September 14, almost full. See my web site for more info:, click on Classes). I'm also considering writing a book about the topic. (Not sure when I'll find the time, but I know that the process of writing down what I've discovered about color will spur me on to learn even more... so WORTH the time and effort.)

Permanent Alizarin Crimson Predominant Chart
I both love color and the power of color. Through it, I convey atmosphere, mood, focus attention, keep  harmony, describe a sense of space. Through trial and error and experience, I've gotten to know and adjust my palette (a continuing process) so that I can see and reproduce the colors of the subjects I choose to paint. Still, it's been a matter of mixing two colors together that seem to be the most likely combination to produce what I want ... then I lighten or darken, change temperature or adjust with more of those two colors and/or some other color on my palette.

Winsor Lemon Predominant Chart
While I'm sure I'll still be doing some of that (adjusting, adding, etc.), I'll soon be mixing a much closer or the exact color from the very start. Wouldn't that be fantastic? What a time and effort saver! I can paint more paintings.

So, how is this all going to come about? I've been taking Richard Schmid's advice (from his Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting book) and creating color charts from my carefully considered current palette, specific to the manufacturer of each color that I use, to develop a whole spectrum of colors, color combinations in value ranges from one to five. It's time-consuming and requires a great deal of concentration, but I'm learning as I do it ... and have a great guide for those future paintings in the making. So far, I have 4 charts completed of the 16 I plan to create.

These are done from the following palette:
  • Transparent Earth Red (like Transparent Red Oxide), more permanent than Burnt Sienna which I used to use. (Gamblin)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Gamblin)
  • Quinacridone Red (Gamblin)
  • Venetian Red (Gamblin)
  • Cadmium Red Light (Gamblin)
  • Yellow Ochre (Gamblin)
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cadmium Yellow Pale (Winsor & Newton)
  • Winsor Lemon (Winsor & Newton)
  • Viridian (Winsor & Newton)
  • Pthalo Green (Gamblin)
  • Cobalt Turquoise Light (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cobalt Blue (Winsor & Newton)
  • French Ultramarine Blue (Winsor & Newton)
  • Cobalt Violet (Gamblin)
  • Titanium-Zinc White (Gamblin)
From doing these experiments, I will possibly "weed" some of these colors out, to reduce the size of my palette of colors. But -- that will only happen if my color range and the convenience factor (of using a color straight from the tube) is not affected (much). I've developed this palette over time, adapted from teachers and what's happened to work for me. It's a pretty terrific palette. Expensive, though.

I'll share more about how I'm constructing the charts and some of my conclusions in future posts ... or possibly my web site. (I'll let you know.) So more to come...

I took the photos of my first couple of charts under Tungsten light ... (so the color is wrong) ... since the sun went down before I could photograph them. I'll replace them with less blurry, truer color versions ... again, sometime soon. In the meantime, ignore all the screwy things about this glimpse into my project. Please.

For those following my house renovation news, we now have about half of a new roof with a forecast of rain for tomorrow (yikes) and I picked -- and the painters painted -- my first wall color on the main level. Perhaps because of all these color lessons lately, I was certain (for the first time) of the color I wanted to replace the very red walls in our two-story family room. I picked ... drum roll, please ... Sherwin-Williams' Casa Blanca, a beautiful white. With a room full of windows opening to lots of trees, I now see the outdoors and our stone fireplace stands out. What a transformation!!! I left the studio many times today to stretch and stare at how pretty it is. Yea!

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Denise R said...

I will be interested to see how you do these. I want to do them but can't figure out how to go about it! I don't understand the "predominant" ones and what you mix with what and how much! I get the first one with the unmixed paints and adding increasing amounts of white, but after that I am confused! Can't wait for your explanation post!

Jill Banks said...

You'll need to wait a while longer ... but here are some hints. Don't try and play scientist with this, it's not 50/50 or 60/40 or any other ratio. Each color is different as to its "staining" power -- some disappear (you need a lot more of those to make them dominant) and with some a little goes a long way (they seem to dominate no matter what you do). The idea is to look at the mixture and ask yourself the question ... does this look mainly "x" color or not. More later. Thanks for reading my blog!