Two Apples and a Pear, Oil on canvas, 5x11"

Two Apples and a Pear, Oil on canvas, 5×11″

I’ve spent the past few months studying Munsell color notation and color mixing with Paul Foxton. My goal was to learn to discern value and color more accurately and to be able to efficiently mix those colors in paint. I’ve posted some of my course studies below. The above painting was done outside of the course, and doesn’t represent what is taught in the course. It is just a fun little alla prima still life, done before taking down my shadow box and lighting set up used in the course. I learned so many important things in the class. I think the number one thing I learned is how much lower chroma (aka less saturation/vibrant) most things are. Most things, including people, are much less colorful than I thought. Also, regardless of race, we humans are all low chroma orange (or as Munsell would have it, Yellow-Red).

I had several challenges with the class. The first was the lighting situation in my studio. One of the keys to accurate color matching is having the same intensity and temperature of light on the subject, palette and easel. Despite spending hours and hours trying, rigging up all kinds of lighting and black curtaining, I was never able to truly achieve this. The second challenge was my own nature: I enjoy being playful with color, expanding on the color I see with a little exaggeration and imagination.  Also another challenge: most of the work was done using a black-lined shadow box with fairly low lighting and I discovered how much I prefer lots and lots of light and white.

The course was still worth it for me because I got to really expand my ability to see values and color with much more sensitivity and understanding. If you are interested in learning more about Munsell, Paul offers numerous free instructional videos available here. For Paul to be able to assess our work he needed us to paint with the canvas immediately beside the subject in its shadow box and submit a photo of the two side-by-side. Getting an accurate photo was just as challenging as getting the lighting right.   I include some of the photos of the set up and painting in this selection of studies below:

 

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Category:
Art theory, Oil Painting, Painting, Still Life
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Join the conversation! 10 Comments

  1. Beauties all round!! So good to see your work!! God bless, C-Marie

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    • Thanks C-Marie. I especially appreciated your nice email reminder that I hadn’t posted lately! I’ve been posting regularly to Instagram and Facebook but neglecting my poor blog. I promise to do better going forward and already have a couple more posts nearly ready to go soon.

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  2. Nice work Jana. Enjoyed the presentation of these pieces very much.

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  3. Jana, you did such a great job on these exercises. To take the time to work like this must really help your regular practice. Thanks so much for sharing. Paul’s videos are wonderful, but I must be part ADD and have a hard time sitting still to even watch!

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    • Ha ha Terri. I have the same problem–either I get distracted or I doze off. I find watching painting videos a great way to induce a nap when I can’t sleep. But these I had to really study to understand the concepts so that kept me focused. And the course videos were pretty specific to each assignment so I had to pay attention if I wanted to do that one correctly. And even then I still missed things and did a few of the assignments twice.

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  4. thanks so much for your postings of your studies. Very informative!

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  5. Interesting post! Your comment about lighting reminded me of this article I read a while ago – Will Kemp is a great and helpful resource in my life! I just wondered if you might find it helpful? http://willkempartschool.com/art-studio-lighting-design/ 🙂

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  6. Hi Jana, Thank you so much for the wilkempartschool.com recommendation! It looks to be very interesting and helpful. God bless, C-Marie

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  7. It’s great to see these all together in one place Jana. I’m really happy that you feel you’ve learned some useful stuff on the course, and I very much hope that some of it will come out naturally in your day to day painting now.

    And yes, the lighting thing is absolutely key for this approach to work. It’s not always easy to get right though.

    It was an absolute pleasure to have you, please come back soon 🙂

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