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Limited Palettes 2-Color Studies

Clockwise from top left; all also include white: Cadmium Lemon Yellow + Sevre Blue; Cad. Yellow + Viridian; Cad. Yellow Pale + Permanent Rose; Ultramarine + Perm. Aliz., oil on 12x12" panel

Following in the footsteps of Kathryn Law’s 36 (!) color studies inspired by the Peggi Kroll-Roberts Limited Palettes video, I returned to doing more of my own. As Kathryn explains on her post, it’s all about learning what your colors can do.

The four at top I did yesterday, after switching back to regular oils (mostly Winsor & Newton). Below are some that I did previously using Holbein Aqua Duos water-soluble oils that I fell out of love with.

Dioxazine Violet & Quinacridone Red
Dioxazine Violet & Quinacridone Red; warm light, cool shadows

Dioxazine Violet & Cad Yellow Deep, V.1
Dioxazine Violet & Cad Yellow Deep, V.1

Dioxazine Violet & Cad Yellow Deep, V.2

Ultramarine Blue & Cadmium Orange; cool light, warm shadows

Phthalo Green and Cad Lemon Yellow; warm lights, cool shadows
Phthalo Green and Cad Lemon Yellow; warm lights, cool shadows

This is a really fun exercise. The idea is to discover about all the variations of value and hue that you can make with just two colors (plus white) and to experiment with using both cool and warm colors for the light or the shadows. It can be done with any medium (with watercolor you’d use two colors and vary the amounts of water instead of adding white).

Doing exercises like this is also a great way to have fun with paint when time is short or if there’s a big scary painting that you’re not quite ready to begin.

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My Super Bowl (of apples) Sunday

Super Bowl of Apples, oil on panel, 8x8"
Super Bowl of Apples, oil on panel, 8x8"

I don’t really “get” football although I have fond memories of men (my father and others) gleefully yelling at televised games. I didn’t want to feel left out of the Super Bowl Sunday festivities so I celebrated in my own way: painting a Super Bowl of apples.

I love this old “Metlock California Pottery” bowl which I think might have been my grandmother’s. I use it for my big lunch salads nearly every day. It’s also a great popcorn bowl.

Plane Divisions chart, from Hensche Colour Study pdf
Plane Divisions chart, from Hensche Colour Study pdf*

At last weekend’s workshop with Peggi Kroll-Roberts, one important bit of guidance she gave me was that “every plane has a color change and/or value change” and she diagrammed for me how to visual the planes of the cylindrical object I was painting (an old teapot), similar to Fig. C above. She encouraged me to see and paint those changes in value and color and I tried to do that with the apples.

I learned so much at the workshop and hope to return to her next session in March. It was also great finally meeting my friend Kathryn Law in person (she attended the workshop too). Kathryn has already posted her terrific workshop paintings with commentary on her blog. You can see her Workshop Day One here and Day Two here.

*The diagram above was from a  source completely unrelated to Peggi Kroll-Roberts. I extracted it from the lengthy .pdf file “Colour Study,” downloadable from the website, Oil Painting Thoughts and Ideas about Henry Hensche’s approach to color study.

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Painting Value Studies with Peggi Kroll-Roberts DVDs

Block Study 5, from value to color
Block Study 5, from value to color, oil on canvas, 9x9"

After viewing and savoring my Peggi Kroll-Roberts DVDs, I’m doing the exercises she teaches in them, starting with value studies. To keep it simple and focus on values I used colored blocks for my subject. Above is the last study of the day in which I tried to apply to color what I’d learned by doing the gray-scale value studies below.

Value Study with blocks # 1
Value Study with blocks # 1, oil on canvas, 9x12"

One of the huge new (to me) things I learned from the Simple Value Plan DVD is that when you make a value plan for a painting, you can choose a range of values for the painting, such as making it high-key (mostly light) or  low-key (predominantly dark), rather than copying the values as you see them. Kroll-Roberts compares this to playing music in different keys.

She recommends making a value plan before starting a painting by simplifying and grouping shapes in the image into two or three values, with 1/3 light and  2/3 dark or vice versa for a more interesting design. In the study above on the right I used only mid to dark grays, for a low-key, predominantly dark study.

Value Study with blocks #2
Value Study with blocks #2, oil on canvas, 9x12"

Another tool she demonstrates is to first mix a value scale and put it at the bottom of your value plan study as I did above on the bottom right, and select your values from that scale. You can see the 3 blobs of paint at the bottom of most of these studies that indicate the values I intended to use.

Value study with blocks #3
Value study with blocks #3, oil on canvas, 9x12"

Above I wanted the study to use the full value scale, black, white and mid-gray. I noted the colors of the blocks and how I was interpreting their values (yellow and white blocks and beige table top = white/gray; red, green and blue = gray/black,  depending on if they were in light or shadow). I did some more adjusting of value once I had it blocked in so there are more than 3 values.

Value Study with blocks #4 - High Key
Value Study with blocks #4 - High Key, oil on canvas, 9x12"

On Peggi’s DVD High Key Value, she demonstrates creating a high key (mostly light values) painting by simply selecting the values that are mostly very light. I tried doing that with this study, and I think it works, but could have used an even lighter “darkest dark.”