Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Teaching a Painting Workshop THIS weekend... gettn' ready..

Really looking forward to this weekend, meeting and
making new friends among artists. Artists and musicians
simply are some of the neatest people to know and be

We'll be having dinner together Friday night, break some
ice...talk about Saturday morning, and then for two days
we'll be paint'n up a storm on various sites I have picked
out here in NE Wisconsin.

This afternoon...I painted up an example of a "Pigment
Soup" color scheme colorwheel. Ted Goerschner calls
it working with a "mother color"...and a few other artists
putting out books of recent as well, but this was a more
common knowledge in the early 1900's thru mid 1900's
as one of a number of palette strategies to create great
moods, unifying harmonizing pictures.

The way a pigment soup works is you simply mix up a
color pleasing to you...one that by experience will nail
the mood that excites your aesthetic senses, and draw a
piece of that color into of your main palette color piles.
The common color simply pulls everything together.

To illustrate, I mixed up a pile of this somewhat
neutral bluish-green...

I then grabbed a paint panel...sketched out some
colorwheel lines...and painted the center space the
main dominant "soup" color...and immediately
surrounding the dominant are the pure primary
colors of my limited palette, and the secondaries
mixed up from then...

Working our way out now, I take the dominant
bluish-green color and mix a bit into each of
the primaries and secondaries...then finish off
with the tint of the same, or adding white.

Note how the colors naturally and very pleasingly
harmonize on the wheel...and premixed on your
palette gives you full confidence the painting will
all pull together.

I'll conclude this little illustration by mentioning that quite
often the artist that works with a limited palette is very
much limiting himself.

Here's the thing...if you understand just a smidge of
color theory, are connected to some knowledge understood
by the past masters and put that to work, you can use
a simple strategy such as "pigment soup" to expand the
very few colors.

I only use three primaries: Utrecht French Ultramarine Blue,
Cadmium Lemon Yellow, W&N Bright red, Naples Yellow...
sometimes Viridian, and white as my routine palette.

Consider the possibilities...as this was just one color I
indiscriminately mixed up to use as a dominant, so...how
many colors could one mix up and run with? Endless!!!

And...that is just the "pigment soup" strategy. There are
about a half-dozen different strategies I work with, one
common to quite a few plein air painters and painters in
general...mixing on the fly seeing the actual color, and
this is called "optical color" mixing. Others are a neutral
mud block-in wet into wet alla prima method, a twist on
an Edgar Payne strategy I've been developing. And one
more, one of my favorites is the split-complementary
palette...which involves a dominant color, then using its
split-complementaries plus white.

There are more...but what??? We are limiting ourselves
by understanding the maximum that can be done with
with less or fewer colors??? Sssheesh...the few under-
stood open a whole world about color, their very many
possibilities. From my observations I could argue that
having 16-20 colors out on a palette hardly gives the
artist a chance for the complexities to be understood

That's my story...and I'm stickin' to it!!!

For information on my workshop I'm teaching this weekend
(still time...) click here, contact me!


-N- said...

I've always painted with a "pigment soup". I'd like to say it's pure genius that made me do it, but it started (and continues) as a frugal measure (gotta use up that pile of off-whatever), but eventually I did clue in to it being a great strategy for colour cohesion! So now I get to be cheap AND a genius! :-D

Larry Seiler said...

well "n"...that is most certainly true, and one of the benefits.

If a person is going to use only a few main colors, you can afford to find the best pigments for yourself. Otherwise to buy 18 colors, one is likely to lean toward student grade pigments....

take care

Regula Scheifele said...

Larry - thanks so much for this great and informative post!
I'm following your posts and discussions on WC! as well and have learned a lot from them. Putting theory into practice is something else of course...
I have a tub of Davy's Grey (acrylics) I've never used, this might be the right occasion to give it a try.

Larry Seiler said...

neutrals (grays) have long been a key to great paintings...and learned to use right can make color sing...
An artist on Wetcanvas from Australia by the name of Graham posted a lovely example of just how much color can sing in a very simple composition that is composed mostly of varying grays. You are immediately struck by the presence of the light...
Check it out HERE

Learning to add a bit of that gray to your color will naturally pull it together and harmonize. Some would argue and say it'll make the color dirty...but in that spot where you want most attention drawn, you apply a bit of color pure without the component of gray everything else receive. The rule of "by comparison" will make that spot of color sing out wonderfully...that is, by comparison to all else.

A good idea to work and play around with the concept! take care

Regula Scheifele said...

Larry - I'm experimenting with the Pigment Soup idea. Using Davy's Grey (acrylics) is probably not the best idea (very transparent) but I'll eventually get there!
My first try is posted on my blog. Thanks for all the infos you provide!

Jim said...

Thanks Larry:
You have been an inspiration for some time, I believe I am almost ready to capitulate into en plein aire myself, love your works.
Jim Johnson

Larry Seiler said...

hey Regula..I'll go take a look at your blog, thanks for commenting. It'll come. Confidence comes rather quickly I think...which then gives your a sense of permission to give things a go...

thanks Jim, nature will most convince you once you give painting on location a decent chance! In all my years painting AND teaching, can't think of a quicker way nor better for advancing oneself as a painter!

Tim Bye said...

Absolutely fascinating Larry! Nice to share some of your knowledge!