Thursday, March 31, 2016

Using Up Spare Tubes of Paint

I received this email the other day. “Oil paint is so expensive. What can I do with all the tubes of paint that I’ve bought and never used? I hate to buy more when I have all these extra tubes in my studio.”

My suggestion would be to experiment with these extra tubes and try to mix the colors that you normally use, especially the more expensive colors.

For example, here a few ways to mix an acceptable Yellow Ochre Light:

Yellow Ochre Light = White, Yellow Ochre or Raw Sienna and a bit of Yellow.
Yellow Ochre Light = White, Permanent Green Light and Permanent Rose.
Yellow Ochre Light = White, Yellow, a bit of Olive Green and Orange.

Naples Yellow = Add more White to the above mixtures.
Olive Green = Black and Yellow.
Cobalt Violet = White, Purple, a touch of Red.
Various Reds = Alizarin, Orange and/or Yellow.
Various Oranges = Permanent Rose and Yellow.
Cerulean Blue = White, Ultramarine Blue and Viridian.

The Earth Colors – Burnt Sienna, Light Red, Venetian Red and Indian Red are all variations of a Brown with varying amounts of Red. Experimentation will show you that Red and Green = Brown. By adjusting the amounts, you can easily make these colors. Add White to produce Yellow Ochre and Raw Sienna. Add a bit of Ultramarine Blue to produce Burnt Umber and more Blue to produce Raw Umber.

The list could go on………

(Note: I use the word Brown for illustration only, as we know that Brown is really the darkest form of Yellow.)

Technically you only need the three primaries, Yellow, Red and Blue, plus Black and White, to mix all colors but having tubed colors is certainly convenient, especially for Plein-Air work. But in the studio you can experiment with and slowly reduce the number of these extra tubes. The results might surprise you.

Tubed colors are evenly mixed, while your new colors, if left slightly unmixed, will be vibrant and exciting. By varying the amounts and choice of colors used, you also vary the results and you can tweak a color in a new direction if you choose. Also tubed colors vary by manufacturer so if your mixtures are a bit different it’s okay. And, who knows, as you become more comfortable with color mixing and substitution you might prefer your own mixtures to some of the ready-made colors.

Oil paints are expensive and we all have tubes of unused paint lying around. This is a good way to learn color mixing while reducing this extra inventory and save a little money in the process.

Happy painting!


Monday, March 28, 2016

March's Virtual Paint Out - New South Wales, Australia

This month our painting group traveled (via our computers and Google Street Maps) to New South Wales, located near the south-east corner of Australia. It's a diverse region of rugged mountains, arid outbacks with opal and silver mines, rainforests, fertile valleys known for vineyards, wineries, vast sheep and cattle ranches, and a beautiful coastline of long, sandy beaches. Temperatures extremes have been recorded as low as minus 10 degrees in the winter mountains to a sizzling 120 degrees in the summer inland arid regions. Discovered by Capt. Cook in 1770, it was colonized in 1788. Covering an area of 312,528 square miles, the current population is approx. 7½ million.

Sheep Farm
New South Wales, Australia, 9x12, oil

Cape Byron Beach
New South Wales, Australia 9x12, oil

I do enjoy these virtual painting trips and spend quite a few hours touring the countryside and reading a bit of the history, all from the comfort of my studio. Many thanks to artist, Bill Guffy, our travel manager, for all the hours he must spend coordinating and maintaining the Virtual Paint Out website. Thanks, Bill, I'm looking forward to next month's destination.

To see all my VPO paintings from all our destinations, please click here.

These paintings are available in my Ebay Store.

Thanks for visiting,

Thursday, March 24, 2016

My Mini Pochade Box

I thought I would share this previous post since it's almost plein-air time here in Maine. We still have a bit of snow on the ground and the wind today was damp and cold, but it won't be long now.

I wanted a small box that I could easily take with me anytime I thought I would have a few minutes to paint. I keep the box ready and only need to add my colors. It's even handy to use while sitting in my car.

My dollar pencil box measuring 5x8x2½

My new mini pochade box.

This box is just the right size for two 5x7 panels. I taped wax paper on the bottom for easy clean-up and adjusted the consistency of the paint with medium when I added it to the box. A small packet of handi wipes goes in my pocket.  

I brace the canvas with my thumb while painting, using the lid as my easel.

The box is deep enough to securely hold two wet 5x7 panels placed back to back and on an angle. The paint brushes can either be placed at the bottom edge of the canvas or in the box, wrapped in a bit of the handi wipes.

A perfect fit.

It closes up, nice and neat.

These inexpensive plastic boxes come in all sizes so you can easily make up a kit to suit the size canvas you prefer. It's fun to just grab the box and go without having to carry all our usual plein air gear.

Thank's for visiting. Enjoy.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Finding Your Painting Style

Last week I received an email with this question: “How can I find my own style of painting?” 

The answer is that your style will find you. You can modify it or steer it in a certain direction, but it will always be your style, just as your handwriting is uniquely yours.

Think back to when you first learned to write as a small child and were struggling to copy the exact shape of each letter. The early results were stiff and awkward. But as you continued and your thoughts went from forming the letters, to putting the letters into words and then into sentences, your childish efforts began to develop into what would be your adult writing style and penmanship. As you were taught the rules of grammar, you developed your own way of expressing your thoughts.

The painting process is the same. The early days of struggling with shape, color and the principles of picture-making will evolve into your own painting style.

Study the work of artists that you admire. Try to feel what they are saying. Does their style fit your personality and how you see the world around you? You can borrow ideas from other artists and blend them into a style that you are willing to work toward. If you choose a style that is contrary to your personality and personal vision, you will not be happy. Some students copy their favorite artists. This is good for studying, but you cannot copy another person’s style and make it your own. Every artist’s style is particular to that person, their emotions and how they interpret their world. But you can borrow bits and pieces.

The biggest hindrance that I have seen over the years of teaching is the insistence of students to copy their reference source exactly as seen. By not interpreting the scene through their senses, they are the child dutifully copying his letters but saying nothing.

Before you begin to paint ask yourself what there is about the subject that caught your attention. What does it say to you? Is it the color? The light effects? The mood? This should be the reason for painting a particular subject, not to show that you can render every detail. Copying is easy; painting how you feel about the subject is the real test. Make changes, be brave. Enjoy the freedom to move or eliminate objects that distract. Make the painting yours.

And take the time to study your finished paintings. Decide what you like and don’t like about your work. Be honest with yourself. Don’t paint to please others. It’s always nice to have someone admire your work, but ultimately you need to please yourself. Like the child struggling with his letters, your painting style will slowly evolve. Just keep painting.

Happy painting!