Friday, January 17, 2014

Coming to terms with green

The Hitchhiker - work in progress
30" x 40" oil on canvas

When I moved into the house I currently live in, everything - and I mean EVERYTHING, was painted a pale hospital green.  The previous owners obviously liked green.  A lot. Walls, ceilings, woodwork, trim, doors - in every room and hall. I think that added to my green prejudice. The only rooms that were spared were the bathrooms and then only because they were tiled.  Purple or blue or beige.  Yes, I know... 

Aside from my unwillingness to tackle flowers in paint, my other dislike has been using greens.  Its not a colour that appeals to me to be honest.  I never think of anything pleasant to associate with green and I think I can safely say that I don't own any piece of clothing that is green.  Oh sure, greens of grass, trees, leaves are ever present and I do appreciate the overall expanse of greens in nature.  But recreating them on canvas?  That always would strike fear into me. And into many others too it seems.  There's a lot of green phobia out there!   Maybe some of that fear is simply the vast range of green hues, its pretty overwhelming when trying to figure out how to get just the right one to make your painting work.

The last boat painting I completed, Fox Point, as well as this one that I'm currently working on, have a lot of green in them and over time I've come to terms with the colour.  While there are endless tubes of ready made greens in paint, I believe that mixing my own colours is the only way to achieve the hue I want, and it lets me control whether I want to brighten, intensify or cool it down.  I can match colours perfectly every time and its easier on the bank account when I'm not out hunting for the perfect match or slavishly copying the palette of another artist in the hopes that it will lead me to glory.

Premixed tubes can contain some pretty garish colours that don't resemble anything that real life presents and would be an exercise in frustration to use it straight out of the tube.  There are some earthy premixed greens that are in my arsenal however, such as Terra Verte and Olive Green that make good starting points, but always add other colours to them to meet my personal needs.

It becomes a challenge for me in colour matching and if you've watched my colour matching video  on my YouTube channel, you can see that exercise, along with a video on the basics of colour mixing.  Like drawing, colour mixing is one of those key pieces in technique that you really need to have under your belt to be proficient in painting in any medium.  Yes, even the greens.  I'll be making a short video demo on mixing greens soon, as much to jog my memory as to help anyone else who may find it useful.  In it, I'll explore the common and not so common colours mixes that make up greens.

Greens in The Hitchhiker are created with phthalo blue, cad lemon yellow, ultramarine violet, cad red, yellow ochre, and white. Colour combinations that you may not have considered as making greens are worth exploring such as ochres, oranges mixed with ultramarine or phthalo and even black and ochre.  The range of colours from saturated to desaturated is amazing and experience in mixing them becomes your teacher.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

So, what do you do in the studio....?

11 x 7 pastel 

Its funny how the average non-art person thinks an artist is this creative soul who  hangs out in the studio, plays with paints then has someone buy the result. I wish it were that easy. I'd say that business and marketing likely take up 50%, sometimes more, of my  time in the studio.  Art is like any other business and time has to be devoted to the business or it starts to decline. 

I spread the admin over the week, assigning small chunks of each day to dealing with the business and marketing side.  If there's something more important happening, this daily work can take a back seat, but not for long.  The business and marketing side of art is time consuming and each take away from painting time but all contribute to the business of art. So what DO I do in the studio....?  Here's an idea of what goes on.

  • Financial management (sales, expenses, taxes, reporting, etc.)
  • Promotion for paintings, workshops, galleries, events
  • Answering email
  • Newsletter preparation
  • Workshop preparation (writing, filming, advertising, booking, managing, delivery)
  • Project and grant writing and management
  • Sales and shipping
  • Gallery exhibition planning and management
  • Networking in person and through and social media
  • Blog and website management and writing
  • Editing and managing online sales and reproductions
  • Photographing and editing images
  • Inventory management (art)
  • Inventory management (paint and supplies)
 After all that, there is production time.  The actual time where I get to do the fun part, the painting.  This is vital as it IS the business 'product' and must be nurtured as well as the administration around it for it to succeed.  Finding the balance between the two is important as they are the perfect marriage for success.