Tag Archives: part 2 close to home

Still Life 2 – Drawing in Paint

Look around your house for an arrangement of objects that just happens to be there. Don’t spend too long looking. It could be things that you keep on a shelf, table or window ledge or a corner of your kitchen. Don’t choose objects that are too complex in appearance, but choose things that you find interesting to look at. Make any minor adjustments that you need to create a simple still life arrangement from what happens to be there.

There’s not much going on in my apartment but a few simple things left around and kitchen utensils, I move that often that I keep things to a bare minimum. However I did have a handful of things laying around.

The first objects that I laid my eyes on were my wooden manikin that I have never used and a Siamese football (taakraw) they were on a small white wooden table that I used in my assignment and other exercises so I placed them on a thin layer of wrapping material that was elevated with a plastic bottle to give the composition an interesting background. This arrangement had everything I was looking for really but I thought I would look at other things I had laying around.

First Sketch Manakin and Taakraw Ball

1 First Sketch Manakin and Taakraw Ball

The second sketch was of a Lacoste shopping bag on top of a case containing a drone that I have never used. This was also an interesting composition and will be a subject for a painting at some stage but for this exercise it was quite technical with the detail on the case.

2 Second Sketch - Drone Case and Lacoste Bag

2 Second Sketch – Drone Case and Lacoste Bag

My third sketch was of my camera on top of the case containing the remote control for the drone, This was very technical and so I decided against it and left the sketch unfinished.

3 Third Sketch - Camera and Drone Remote Case

3 Third Sketch – Camera and Drone Remote Case

For the third drawing i set up a composition of my acrylic paint basket and some material used for monks robes that I bought for my drawing course. I didn’t know how it would turn out but I couldn’t have asked for a better result. This would have been ideal for this exercise with the lines of the fabric folded behind the box and how the lines seperated the different tones of the colours on the box inside the tube…BUT…I liked it so much that i wanted to save it for my still life with man made objects.

4 Fourth Sketch Acrylics in Wicker Basket

4 Fourth Sketch Acrylics in Wicker Basket

Going back to the manikin and taakraw, I made the second sketch of my chosen arrangement in watercolour. I bought a watercolour set about a month ago and have been doing some urban sketching. I usually draw with a Rotring first and then do the rest in watercolour, this was my first 100% watercolour sketch. I started with the outline of the manikin and ball and then applied the colour followed by glazing for the shadow. For the ball I drew the outline in a fairly watered down mix then finished it off with a mixture of dry brush and glazing. I thought this would have given me enough practise for finishing off the ball in the acrylic painting but it proved to be much more difficult in acrylic.

5 Watercolour Sketch of Manakin

5 Watercolour Sketch of Manakin

The composition looks easy to draw but it wasn’t, it actually took three attempts to draw the two objects in pencil due to the dimensions of the two objects together. So when it come to drawing in acrylic I tore out the watercolour sketch from the XL pad and put it in front of me with the pencil drawing so I could work from real life with the two drawings as reference.

Unlike previous exercises I wanted to work small on an A4 sheet, I had never painted on a small scale before and I felt that this would help me develop my ‘drawing with paint’ skills. Painting on a small scale did increase the level of difficulty

I started by preparing the paper with an off-white first coat of acrylic and then once dry I painted the outline of the two objects with a watered down mix of yellow ochre and burnt umber. From there I made a couple of edits before applying colour.

6 Drawing in Acrylic Paint

6 Drawing in Acrylic Paint

Yellow ochre played a big part in the colouring of the mankin with different mixes of white for the lighter tones, then I used a mixture of dry brush and glazing techniques for the shadows and darker tones. My palette wasn’t too large but I did use a few different colours such as burnt umber, burnt sienna, yelllow ochre and titanium white (my tutor did warn against using titanium white but as of yet I have been unable to find zinc white here) as well as cadmium orange and chromium green.

Although I applied the colour very randomly switching from technique to technique as I moved through the manikin, I did work in a very structured manner, like the Dutch Masters I painted the manikin piece by piece first the head then the arms, body and so on.

Once I had finished the manikin the drawing of the outline of the ball looked way out and so I painted in the basic colours of the background, pink ( a mix of primary red and white) and then a very light grey (black and white), this gave me a rough idea how much it needed editing, which wasn’t much.

7 Manakin and Taakraw in Acrylic

7 Manikin and n in Acrylic

When working on detail of the ball it changed from a drawing with paint exercise to mixed media. Firstly I painted the light and dark tones of the ball and then I needed some kind of technique for drawing the woven sections. I came across ‘Hitofude Ryuu’ dragon with 1 stroke painting and thought maybe I could borrow something from this to paint the ball so I dipped a small flat brush in two different coloured paints, hoping that I could paint the detail of the weave as well as the shadow in 1 stroke. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I had to paint over it and start again but it was worth a try.

Eventually I settled for a dry brush technique with a darkened mix of yellow ochre which worked really well but it still needed detail which I thought I could achieve with black applied with a small brush. The brush snapped when towel drying it and so I tried applying the paint with the blade of a cutter with no joy and so I made the decision not to paint the black detail but to draw it with a black Uni-ball pen. the result of this can be seen above.

Understanding Colour 3 – Broken or Tertiary Colours

Make a scale between an orange red and a greeny blue. Try to maintain constant tonal values across the scale by adding a little white, as you did in the previous exercise. At the mid point at more white the result should be grey. This is known as a broken or tertiary colour and this type of colour makes up the appearance of much of our world.

In this part of the exercise I worked from brilliant red which had a very orange hue to turqoise as can be seen in the upper scale in the image. The middle mixes are more of a blue-green grey which isn’t very clear from the photo. Working with these orange red and turquoise produced some very interesting and quite pleasant broken colours which did surprise me and it has got me interested in experimenting with colours in future paintings.

Broken or Tertiary Colours

Broken or Tertiary Colours

Make a carefully graded scale between a pair of secondary colours choose either orange to violet, green to orange or violet to green. Mix in white to maintain equal tones throughout (the lightest tone is orange). Once again the middle mixes lose chroma to become broken/tertiary colours.

Here I worked with orange to a blue violet but lightened it up with white to take away some of the blue hue. These two colours produced more interesting colours than the first scale, here are some of the colour mixes that I made using these two colours as some are hard to describe, Orange, Ginger, Red-Brown, Chocolate, Grey – Brown, Brown-violet, and various tones of grey-violet.

 

 

 

 

 

Understanding Colour 2 – Primary and secondary colour mixing

First, identify your primary colours. Begin by laying sma ll amounts of pigment onto your palette, arranging them in yellows, reds, blues etc.

Working on an area of your prepared grey ground, lay all the yellows next to each other so that they touch but don’t mix. Notice the difference in hue (the way that one colour is distinguished from another), chroma (the intensity of colour) and tone (how light or dark it is). Arrange the yellows in different sequences and how different juxtapositions alter the appearance of yellows. Make note of which is the more intense yellow.

Continue with this  exercise using both your blues and reds, you will need to mix a bit of white to see the hue of dark reds and blues properly as these pigments tend to be more transparent.

Identifying Primaries

I really should buy more oil paint colours and started working with oils for some exercises as the acrylic paint i uded for this exercise was very transparent, especially against the grey background, and I did use various brands and qualities.

Identifying Primary Colours 1

Identifying Primary Colours 1

Identifying Primary Colours 2

Identifying Primary Colours 2

I started by laying down all the yellows that I had which wasn’t a lot, lemon yellow, deep yellow and medium yellow. For blues I had Phthalo blue, Prussian blue, cobalt blue, blue hue and blue lake and reds Vermilion, bright red and crimson, there were no primaries in any of the colours, each of them showed sign of other hues and to be honest I really didn’t know what a primary red, blue or even yellow looked like so to be safe I thought it was time to buy primary colours just so I knew.

Identifying Primary Colours 3

Identifying Primary Colours 3

 

 

 

 

 

Identifying Primary Colours 4

Identifying Primary Colours 4

Not having much cash left to last the month the next day following day I purchased three acrylic paints made in Thailand, a red, yellow and blue. They said primary colour on the tubs, but when I got home I realised it was probably a company slogan the paints were very runny, very transparent and very ‘crap’. Still I decided to work with them for now. The red was too bright and didn’t mix well with the Louvre crimson, the yellow was too golden but the blue was ok just too runny.

Using what I had for now I laid them all down in strips touching each other and what I noticed was working in different sequences I not only got to see how each colour looked next to another, different tones etc but it also allowed me to see hints of other primary colours within their hues.

Primary Colour Mixing

Mixing Primary Colours

Mixing Primary Colours

I began by mixing yellow to red, then yellow to green and then blue to red, which should have been red to blue without white. These mixes can be seen above in the first 6 scales, the mixes were unstable (if that’s the right word) murky and transparent with no steady progress from one mix to another.

The next day I did what I should have done in the first place and bought some better colours.I was hoping for Louvre but there were no primary colours so I had to settle for liquitex which was the only brand with primary colours in stock. This time I mixed in a bit of white for each one.

Mixing Primary Colours 2

Mixing Primary Colours 2

The results were a lot better, the colours were less transparent this time, the colours at the middle were less murky and  the tones were very even with a beautiful progression in hues from one stripe to the next.

Research Point 3 – Chevreul’s Colour Theories

The brief for this research point was to find out more about Chevreul’s colour theories. And make notes on how particular artists have used Chevreul’s theories to expand the possibilities of painting.

Law of simultaneous contrasts of colours

New to  Chevreul’s theories I began scanning the internet for more information, I came across a really interesting paper written by philosopher and art historian Georges Roque in which he describes Chevreul’s ‘law of simultaneous contrast of colours’ and how particular artist’s such as Delacroix, Claude Monet, Paul Signac and even van Gogh have used his theories.

Chevreul was appointed Director of the Dyeing department of Gobelins manufacture and after 4 years of colour research he wrote a memoir to be read at the Academy of Sciences about the influence two colours can have on each other when seen simultaneously. Due to lack of reliable colour plates his main book on the subject “On the law of simultaneous contrast of colours and on its applications to…”, was delayed 11 years and wasn’t published until 1839. Published with the book was a striking list of all the areas to which is law could be applied including tapestry, clothing, horticulture, stained glass windows as well as painting.

His research into the laws of simultaneous contrast came about when the weavers at Gobelins made a complaint against the dyers in the Department of Dyeing which Chevreul directed. The complaint was that they were not producing the required depth of colours in the black dyes. Chevreul realised that the fault lay not with chemistry but it was a problem of psychophysiology; the brains perception of colour when the black was seen next to other colours.

In the case where the eye sees at the same time two contiguous colours, they will appear as dissimilar as possible, both in their optical composition and in the strength of their colour.– M.-E. Chevreul.

Meaning in order to perceive two colours better, the brain has a tendancy to exaggerate differences. Chevreul’s law works for lightness as well as hues which can be seen in the next exercise Mixing Grey’s – anachromatic scale.

Chevreul’s law of contrast came together through his awareness of the existence of complimentary colours. If the brain exaggerated the two juxtaposed colours this meant they would be perceived to be  more different than they actually are with the brain adding to the juxtaposed hue a little of the complimentary colour to that hue and vice versa.

Neutralizing the complimenting effect

Chevreul was asked testify in a trial between a wallpaper manufacturer and a customer who complained that the grey pattern in the wallpaper grey looked reddish whilst the manufacturer claimed it was perfectly grey. Chevreul proved both to be right by isolating the grey, then to neutralize the complimenting effect he suggested adding a small part of the colour of the background to the grey.

Chevreul concluded that when the two hues that are juxtaposed together are complimentary such as a green and a red, the two complementary colours enhance each, the red will look redder and the green will look greener. This law was critical for painters who wished to predict the intensity and harmony of colours when  juxtaposed together.

Chevreul’s influence on artists

The only painters interested in Chevreul’s theories up until the 1880s were those looking to enhance their colour. Looking for a recipe to give more intensity to their colours, these artists ‘adopted accordingly what they called erroneously “the law of complementary colours”.’Georges Roque.

One of the first of these was Eugene Delacroix who made the following mnemonic which he would use would use for his painting.

Chromatic triangle of Eugène Delacroix, 1834,

Chromatic triangle of Eugène Delacroix, 1834,

A prime example of this is Delacroix’s ‘The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople. 1840 in which he used his colour triangle, structured by three pairs of complimentary colours and this can be especially seen in the flags, one of which is blue with orange motifs, another is yellow on a violet ground and the two on the ground on top of each other are of juxtaposed complimentary colours, red and green.

Eugene Delacroix , The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople. 1840. Oil on canvas

Eugene Delacroix , The Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople. 1840. Oil on canvas

The influence Chevreul’s theories had on impressionist painter Pissaro could be seen in the way he framed his paintings, applying ‘the law of complementary colours’ at a 1877 exhibition by choosing white frames so that they did not interfere with the exact tonal values of the colours in his paintings. A few years later when he wanted to enhance the colours, he opted for slightly colouring the stretches with the complementary hue of the dominating colour in his paintings.

Monet claimed he was not one to ‘theorise’ in his paintings but in an interview hewas quoted as saying “primary colours look brightest when they are brought into contrast with their complementaries”, is awareness of the laws of simultaneous contrasts of colour can be seen in ‘Poppies at Argenteuil, 1873’ in which he took the opportunity to place spots of pure read against the more dominant green.

Claude Monet, Poppies at Argenteuil, 1873

Claude Monet, Poppies at Argenteuil, 1873

Unlike the impressionists who claimed they weren’t colour theorists the neo-impressionists from the 1880s onward realised how much of an important role colour science played in their paintings. Artist and theoretician of neo-impressionist movement, Paul Signac visited Chevreul in 1884, and in 1885 returned to visit Chevreul’s assistant at Goeblin’s, Emile David, who he is thought to have visited with George Seurat. as like other neo-impressionist painters who have acknowledged Chevreul, Seurat himself mentioned Chevreul amongst his sources.

Both Signac and Seurat As for Signac, ‘optical mixture’ where instead of being mixed on the pallete, dots of complementary colours are interposed directly on the canvas in order to applied the principle of frequently interposed small dots of complementary colours in order to increase
the luminance in their paintings, these dots of colour are meant to be fused by the eye when seen from a distance which produces a third colour, different from the
two juxtaposed hues.

Paul Signac, The Breakfast, 1886-87

Paul Signac, The Breakfast, 1886-87

Van Gogh got aquainted with ‘the theory of simultaneous contrast’ through art critic, Charles Blanc’s interpretation of Chevreul’s colour theories. He was so enthusiastic after reading Blanc that he copied out a passage of his book in a letter to his brother.

However because of van Gogh’s supposed madness, his use of colour in his paintings has been analysed by doctors rather than by art historians and he was diagnosed as having ‘xanthopsia’ or yellow vision due to his apparent overuse of yellow, but when his paintings are examined carefully the yellow never stands alone and his always along other colours usually against violet, it’s complimentary colour.

Vincent van Gogh, The Sower, 1888

Vincent van Gogh, The Sower, 1888

 

 

 

 

Vincent van Gogh, Vase with Irises against a Yellow background

Vincent van Gogh, Vase with Irises against a Yellow background

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