Sunday, September 13, 2009

Study - Lavender Fields - 6 x 8 sold


There is great value in painting your own value scale. You can do one in pencil, acrylics or oil. Value is probably more important than color in giving a painting depth and creating form. It takes at least three values to give an object shape.

Something that helped me as I struggled with this was to pre-mix my colors into at least three values before I even started to paint. The three value of green give you an idea of what I mean.

I still keep a value scale next to my easel as a reminder. Once colors fall into the same value, the painting starts to look flat.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Starting a Painting

There are endless ways to begin a painting from starting on a white canvas to doing a detailed underpainting, then adding color. The following is a list of only a few ways, the ways that I usually use for my paintings.

Some way to start:
1. Toned canvas (use turpentine to put a thin layer of a neutral color or any color of your choice) that is a middle value. This is how I started this painting. (Pictures shown above)

2. White Canvas - I rarely start with white canvas, but there is an example of one earlier in the blog.

3. Painted canvas using acrylic or colored gesso that is a dark value. For example use a strong red for a landscape with a lot of green. Complementary colors vibrate when used together. My painting of the Purina Building started with a painted red canvas.
4. Detailed underpainting - use either a toned or white canvas, draw with either charcoal or thin paint. If you use charcoal, spray the drawing with a clear fixative so the charcoal doesn't smudge into the paint.

More about getting started- setting up and cleaning up


I organize my palette using the color wheel starting with yellows on the left and ending with the blues on the right. Put out about an inch of each color. One of my teachers once said paint like the paint is free.

Start with lemon yellow, cad yellow, cad red light, alizarin crimson, cerrulean blue, cobalt blue, ending with ultramarine blue.

Put the paints on the palette the same way every time because eventually your brush will go to the right color almost without looking. It's like playing the piano.


Remove excess paint with a paper towel.

Swish the brushes in turpentine to remove a little more paint, then rub the brush on white bar soap using warm water until the soap no longer shows color, rinse with the warm water, then dry flat.


3 parts odorless mineral spirits (Gamsol is the one that I like)
2 parts stand oil
1 part damar varnish

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Color and Value

Understanding color and value are two basics that really help in learning to paint. The book by Richard Schmid listed here convinced me to take the time to experiment with color before starting to paint. Making your own color wheel and value scale first, then making color charts for each of your colors is the first step. Making color boards/charts takes time, but by the time you are finished you won't need them. Well, not really, because they really are a great reference. The process of painting them puts you way ahead on the learning curve. Have I convinced you?
MAKING A COLOR WHEEL: (here is where the work begins)
First put out the two yellows, two reds and two blues on your palette. These colors are listed on the supply list.
I made this about 10 years ago on a piece of poster board and still use it especially when planning a painting. Don't buy a color wheel yet. The process teaches you what you need to know.
Draw in pencil two cirlces like above, then divide the circles into twelve segments:
Paint the primaries on your color wheel, then mix the secondaries, and finish with the tertiary colors.
Primary colors (those colors that you cannot mix)
Secondary colors:
green - mix blue and yellow
purple - mix blue and red
orange - mix red and yellow
Tertiary colors: (colors in between the primary and secondary on the wheel)
Pleae e-mail me if you have any questions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Paints: My favorite brand is Gamblin (available online), but there are many quality brands available, just make sure to get the professional grade rather than student grade. The professional grade has more pigment and is worth the difference in price.

Limited Palette:
Lemon yellow or cad yellow light
Cadmium yellow
Cadmium red light
Alizarin crimson
Ultramarine blue
Cerulean blue
Cobalt blue (nice to have, close to primary blue, but it is expensive
Titanium white

I use a few more colors, but you can mix just about every possible color with this limited palette. Some artists use fewer than these yellows, reds and blues.


Filberts (a flat brush that is rounded at the end)
Brights (flat at end)

Get sizes 4, 6, and 8 in each

Get bristle brushes to start in a moderate price range. Later you will need some softer ones.

My favorite brand is Silver Brush, Grand Prix

Small palette knife
Sketch Book (spiral)
Palette (palette paper, glass palette or wooden palette)
Odorless mineral spirits (Gamblin brand is the one I like, but there are others, like Turpenoid)

Oil Painting Basics

Materials/Supply List


Getting Started



Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time to add a few new posts. Tomorrow I'll start a new painting with a toned canvas.