Friday, July 15, 2011

On Making Color Charts

In my quest for learning how to oil paint, I have come to the conclusion I know very little about color theory and usually just go on my "instinct" when painting and choosing colors. I have read some on my own, but knew all along I need to get serious if I am going to meet some of the goals I have set for myself in this painting journey.

One of the most inspiring and encouraging artists that I personally know is Lori Putnam, a Nashville artist whose work I both admire and drool over! See her website here. Her work is fresh, loose, and just absolutely beautiful. She also has a couple of small booklets (which you can purchase at her website) about oil painting, plein air painting, and color theory that I have purchased that I consider some of the best material I have read on these subjects. And believe me, I have a book addiction, and if I showed you a photo of my shelves of books relating to painting and art, you would know I know what I am talking about! Her booklets are full of little gems of information that I might have read or heard somewhere before, but her way of presentation just sticks with me. Sometimes it is like that with learning.

Lori also has a wonderful blog that includes some valuable posts on many subjects relating to painting, but some very good ones on making color charts and using a 3 color plus white palette like she does. Now I know there are probably countless posts and book chapters out there on chart making, and there is no one right way, but I decided to just go with this and do them. I was not convinced that I could possibly get this many colors with just one tube of each primary and white. However, after doing the charts with Lori's detailed instructions, I am convinced. As most artists are, I am a visual learner for the most part and learn best by doing.

The main thing I learned after doing this exercise was this - I don't have to have every color paint that the manufacturers make in my painting supplies to make beautiful paintings. Now, I know that sounds simplistic, but somehow before I did these charts, I thought that the people who painted with a limited palette or even an expanded limited palette were just somehow born with some sort of talent or sense of color that I was not born with and I could never learn it and would have to buy my own yellow ochre for the rest of my painting career. There is nothing wrong with using a ton of paint tubes, but if you aspire to plein air paint much, it makes it rather difficult and cumbersome to use 20 different tubes out in the field.

Will I only paint with these 3 colors from here on out? I'm not sure yet and also know that it doesn't really matter right now. Some of the best advice that every artist that I have studied with has been something along the lines of "this is the way I do it, but you must find your own style and way of doing things." Great advice!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Susan's Tulips

Susan's Tulips
11"x14" oil on canvas

It has been awhile since I last posted. I have had several family obligations this summer and had very little time to paint, but hopefully that will change now! I have tried to keep up with my art friends' blogs, but also have had little time for that too. So excited to be catching up soon!

I painted these tulips back in May after a lovely dinner at a dear friend's home. She and her husband had several couples over one evening and these tulips were the centerpiece on the table. As an artist, I couldn't help but sit there and wonder how I would paint them! I sat and wondered what colors I would mix to get the color of the petals and how I would set it up in my studio. I know some of you know what I am talking about! Anyway, since she is a good friend, I just asked when I left that evening if I could borrow her tulips to paint them! Since she was so kind to let me take them with me, I just decided to give her the painting. 

I set the tulips up on a sheet of glass in my studio to get the reflection you see in the front. Then, when I lit the set up, the reflection just appeared! I love doing this and learned this tip from several other artists.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer and getting in more painting time than I am!