Friday, October 02, 2009

Warming & Cooling . . . Chalky & Muddy . . . .

Just a quick post, I will be out of the studio today - I've been getting emails like this one:

Beautiful Liz. Regarding the temperature, can you give me an example....say if a color was a chalky dark green, what color would you use or if the color was a chalky light yellow, what would you use?

So, I thought I'd attempt to describe my method more fully. I'm not sure that it will help, hopefully it won't confuse everyone further, but here goes.

Whether you warm or cool your problem yellow area depends on whether it is a warm yellow (reddish - like cadmium) or a cool yellow (more toward green, usually looks lighter - like chrome yellow)

Same with green - does it go toward blue (pthalo) or more toward yellow (emerald, chromium oxide) By the way, always mix a little red into your greens that will make a more believable green. One of my favorite artists, Morgan Samuel Price always mixes up orange then adds blue/yellow to make it green. I have her VHS video series on painting landscapes & mixing color, I will be selling them, are you interested? It's a set of 5-7 videos, I want $75. One video has static, but you can still hear her. She has a whole tape dedicated to mixing greens.

In my non-portrait paintings, the lights are usually warm - the dark areas cool - so I would warm up the bright areas and cool down the darks

What is the main color of your object? That is the color you'll put most intensely along the edge of shadows in your painting. The rest of the object will be either lighter or darker. If you darken the shadows with blues/purples like I do (my favorite is dioxazine purple), then the color will turn warmer as it goes into the lighted area. If you darken the shadows with warm colors - cad reds/browns, the the color will become cooler as it turns to the light. I think this is unusual - the natural order of things is that objects become warmer as they become lighter. because light, being energy is warmer than shadow. Moonlight is probably an exception, but I haven't painted any moonlight paintings. Even Red can be cool - Alizarin is a cool red. I usually mix a bit into my red mixtures to cool down cad red which is ultra-hot.

I think the best way to figure out, especially in oils, if you're not sure is to take a little of the chalky color and divide it into 2 sections. These can be tiny amounts! Then add a bit of warm (cad yellow or cad red) to one, and a bit of cool (pthalo blue, chrome yellow, yellow ochre) I just looked on Gamblin and they consider yellow ochre to be 'warm' but I use it as cool, since it's a bit greenish to me (in my world.) Color temperature is very much dependent on what is around it. Try it on your painting and see if you like the result. You can always wipe it off :)

There's a chart by Gamblin that gives the temperature of all their paint colors. I hesitate to give it to you because as I said, temperature is RELATIVE to everything else on the painting. But it might give you some ideas of what to mix into your questionable color.

Don't give up - I still take down my old paintings and 'tweak' them a bit. I just changed a few things on one of my bluebirds - I'll probably post it again sometime.

Oh, and so far, the verdict is that the new version is much better :)

Hope this helps.

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