Posts Tagged ‘brown madder’

Lessons of Value, Part 2

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

To help my students recognize the importance and effectiveness of a good value range in their work, I had them begin a project, as I wrote about last time, with a monochromatic under layer to establish their values. The second stage of the project was to introduce supplemental color.

I limited my students to the use of only two additional colors, of their choice. I opted to use brown madder and raw sienna over my own indigo base in “Stones in Shell Dish” (#110307).

110307 Stones in Shell Dish (final)

I began with a light wash of raw sienna across the entire dish, then glazed more localized areas with one or more of my three colors to achieve the effect I wanted. The more I worked, the more I continued to increase the value range that even the initial monochrome study had not reached. I cannot tell you how many glazes I applied, because I didn’t keep track. Layer after layer after layer went on. I worked on the piece for several weeks, both in class and out of class, until I was finally satisfied with it.

My students weren’t the only ones who learned from that lesson. But that’s part of why I enjoy teaching. There’s always something more to learn. And one of the best ways to learn is by doing the assignments right along with my students.

A Limited Palette

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

Wave to Me Frondly

Viewers may wonder how a painter can create a color-rich scene without using a palette overflowing with paint choices. The key to successfully using a limited palette is in choosing a few primary-based paints that work well together and that blend to create the supplemental secondary and tertiary hues needed.

In “Wave to Me Frondly” (#110108), I used only four paints–three primaries and a secondary color: new gamboge, indigo blue, brown madder, and sap green. (Despite it’s name, “brown madder” actually is considered a red.) All four of these colors have a warm cast, which helps to convey the warmth of the sun-lit scene.

I began with a background wash of a mixture of new gamboge and brown madder, varying the proportions as I washed them across the paper so the background wouldn’t be all the same flat blend. Most of the fronds are painted with a blend of brown madder and sap green, with some indigo blue added in the darkest areas. A pale wash of pure indigo tints the highlights on the fronds, and an extra bit of new gamboge brightens the sun-kissed spots on the leaves. I dropped in some extra areas of brown madder at the end of the painting process to help balance the nearly-finished painting. But no additional paint colors were needed.

If you like this discussion of paints, you might also be interested in reading “A Palette to My Taste” (December 1, 2010),“Staying Out of the Mud” (March 1, 2011), and “Selecting Paints” (to appear later this year).