Friday, February 1, 2013

When is a Plane not Plain?

In this second study using Arthur Stern's book, "How to See Color and Paint It",   I went to project 4 'How Plain is a Plane'.  This is the set up.

In the set up box are the following construction papers:  Red, Yellow, and Blue.  The lamp is facing more of the top of the box than below.

The colors I used to paint with are: Winton White, Winton Cad Yellow Pale, Cad Red Light, Winton Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and Winton Ultramarine Blue.  Because I'm using a palette knife, using a lot of paint, and these are studies I'm using for my own set of studies (and I had some in my drawer) I chose to use mostly Winton paints.  Here is my thought on using student grade paint.  As far as I can tell, and from the small amount of research I've done, student grade paint does use, for the most part but not always, the same paint that is used in professional grade paint.  But a lot less of the pure material is used and much more fillers are added, such as oil.  Therefore, tinting strength is much, much lower.  This goes for Winton Titanium White as well.   I pretty much stay with professional grades of paint, and I might add a bit of Winton if, for example Ultramarine Blue, is a bit dry instead of oil to get it to the right consistency.  I am essentially adding a colored oil to a professional grade paint.  Second, student  grade paint is definitely not as luminous.  Third, student grade does not always use pure materials.  If you see the word 'hue' added after the color name, it is NOT a pure color but a combination of colors to get close to the color that is on the label.  This will act differently than a purer color when you go to mix it.  So my thought is that whatever you decide to use, know it's pros and cons.  In these studies I'm using a combination of both student grade and professional grade paints.

Now that that is explained, look at the photo above and you will see like all things, one color is affecting another.  Notice how much red is reflecting on to the blue and how much blue is reflecting on to the yellow.  Also see some of the yellow reflecting back on the red?  Let's analyze what's going on and what colors to choose to paint with.

In the first go around I painted as close to the general color and tone/value that I saw and didn't worry about the reflected colors.  For the red wall I mixed a bit of cad red light and alizarin and white.  I need to remember that there is cad red light in this mixture.  Which I will explain below.

In this second pass I'm painting some of the reflected colors I see.  Beginning with the blue, initially I added some of the red tint I had made for the first pass.  The trouble was that in the red mix I had added some cad red light.  Cad red light is toward the orange meaning that there is yellow in it.  So what will happen when I add this to a cooler blue such as ultramarine?  Because of what we know of color theory, the purple is going to be on the grey side.  It was not what I wanted or saw.  So I re-mixed only alizarin to the correct tone by adding white, meaning I mixed it to the same value as the blue, and then added it to the blue.  Ultramarine blue has a cool red in it so adding a cool red like alizarin keeps both colors cleaner, therefore the color was purer and closer to what I was seeing.   For the yellow wall closer to the red side, all three colors (red, blue and yellow) are involved so it will be predominately yellow, but because of the red and blue, a bit duller at the bottom.  Why?  Remember when all 3 primaries are mixed together it will result in a form of grey or dull tone.  Toward the top of the yellow wall where it meets the red it will be warmer as it moves closer toward the red on the color wheel.   On the far left at the base of the yellow wall, there is much less influence of red and the blue is going to dominate in its reflection and make it slightly green.  On the red wall you can see what blue is doing to the bottom of the wall and making it more purplish while higher up on the wall the yellow takes over its reflection and makes the color a bit warmer and richer.

I hope you are enjoying these as much a I enjoy doing them and then writing about it.  If you find this helpful please feel free to pass this on to others and subscribe.  You can see more of my work at

No comments:

Post a Comment