Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mixing neutrals from primary colors with acrylic paints

I had so much fun mixing these neutral paint swatches from my set of primaries! I could have sat there for hours doing it, even though the colors started to repeat themselves. This exercise was inspired by a video course by Pat Weaver, who does a great job of showing that just about any color is possible from the primaries plus white.

acrylic paint neutral swatches mixed from primaries plus white and black
By adding white (part way into the top row), these swatches became a lot more dense and creamy.

acrylic paint neutral swatches mixed from primaries plus black
This set doesn't have any white mixed in and the colors are less neutral, but I like how they're much more muted versions of the full strength primaries. 

I was fascinated to see how the color mixes are more transparent before the white is added. My full set of 6 Blick Studio Acrylics came with Titanium White, Mars Black, Cadmium Red Medium Hue, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Ultramarine Blue, and Phthalo Green. For these swatches, I used the red, yellow, blue, and black. For the white, I used Golden Heavy Body Titanium White.

Lately I've been thinking about what I actually want to be painting... I haven't come to a clear conclusion, but I do know I'm more drawn to studies in value and neutral colors than most people seem to be. Often I hear that what people love about painting is bold, bright color. I find myself being much more interested in muted colors, subtle textural qualities, and value contrast — whether it's strong or slight contrast. Even in college, during my photography class I was way more interested in black and white photography than color. I'm sure it has to do with my personality tendencies, which favor direct and straight-forward over provocative or dramatic.

Another reason I wanted to play with color mixing is because I want to do some experimenting using burnt umber and other earth tones for toned grounds and underpainting but I didn't want to have to keep buying paints. Now I know I can just mix those colors myself!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Block-in sketch to acrylic value study

Daily Art 05-20-18 value sketch of little potted plant in grey toned Nova sketchbook

Even though we're mostly packed for our move, I can't bring myself to put the art supplies away! I wanted to try out my new Golden Heavy Body Titanium White and do a quick value study on top of my sketch from the other day.

Even though the mid gray is too dark, I like how dynamic this little study is. I mixed the gray to roughly match my mid-gray palette but once it dried it got darker. The tube of Neutral Gray 6 that's coming in the mail should help me develop a better sense of how that shade looks wet vs. dry. I'm also anxious for my palette paper to arrive because cleaning this plastic palette is a pain. Supposedly the acrylic paint peels right off, but my mixes have been thinned out so the acrylic puddle isn't cohesive enough to peel up.

After playing around with my acrylic painting materials the last few days, I've been struck by how much different it is to actually USE them versus watching videos on how to use them. Pretty obvious, I know, but it still surprised me! I want to work on getting past my fear of doing it poorly and get some daily experience in. I totally believe that's how I'll improve, but it can still be intimidating. And also a test of my patience.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

First sketch in new Stillman & Birn Nova

Daily Art 05-19-18 sketch of little potted plant in grey toned Stillman and Birn Nova sketchbook

The other day I decided it was time to start making daily art again, and since I packed my sketchbook to prepare for our move it was a perfect opportunity to pick up a new one. I almost bought an inexpensive pad of cream colored drawing paper because it's so satisfying to work on that it seemed worth it even for sketches. But then I saw one of the Stillman & Birn soft cover Nova books, with grey toned paper. Happily, it was 50% off so I snatched it up.

All of my non-work time over the last several weeks has been filled with our moving preparations — house hunting, scheduling, selling our house, packing...sadly I just haven't been able to fit art-making into the mix. Our new house will have a larger space for my studio, and thinking about that really got me inspired to make it fit anyway. Plus, on my daily walks I've been listening to Savvy Painter podcast episodes and contemplating what I want to work on next with my art practice.

After finishing my Bargue plate copy I thought I might move on to the oil painting lessons from Sadie Valeri's online atelier. But the thought of buying all of those supplies and setting up for another new medium didn't sound appealing to me right now. I have a few video classes on acrylics that I had already purchased, and even though I watched them and enjoyed them, I never actually did the course work. And I really wanted to! One is based on alla prima painting, and the other is based on glazing color over a monochrome underpainting. Both things I'm excited to learn.

But before I start them, I think I'll do some value plan studies using black, grey, and white acrylic. This grey-toned sketchbook will come in handy for this type of work. When it came time to choose a subject for the first sketch in the new book, I selected one of the charming little accessories that the stager brought over when we were setting up for our open house. She brought a couple of boxes of artificial plants, which I never would have guessed I'd like. But I've really enjoyed having them in the house and will be looking for some for our new house.

Once the little potted plant was blocked in, I marked the shadow areas and experimented with indicating leaves in the halftone and lighter areas. A good next step would be to paint in the darkest and lightest values to contrast with the mid-grey of the paper. But I have to get past the fear of "ruining" my sketch, lol.