Friday, March 21, 2014


 Three on Lace
9 x 12 oil on masonite

I'm in my ninth year of blogging.  I truly didn't think I would last two weeks,let alone pushing through the ninth year.  With statistics showing that many blogs dissolve into nothing within three months of inception, I must be long winded, obsessive or am going for a world record!

Its likely more of the first two that keep me typing to what seems like an empty box at times.  I originally started a blog to make myself accountable to produce art.  Its served that purpose and continues to be a niggling thought in the back of my head daily, whether I've posted here or not, that I must work on art and I must share my thoughts about it.  Whether there is audience or not is irrelevant.  Yes, of course, its good to have feedback, although I'm not a statistic hound and my blog has become similar to a personal art diary, with benefits of interaction with others from time to time.

There are other bloggers of similar vintage who produce wonderful work and words of wisdom.  Perhaps the long lasting bloggers should start a club to compare notes about blog aging. Blogging content and frequency has reduced over the last few years with the presence of social media and its effortless (or nearly) one button or 141 character method of expression.  While social media are very effective, I believe that blogging continues to be a draw for those people wanting to know the underpinnings and thoughts behind a comment or image.  Its rather like books, they'll never disappear even if electronic form and become the place where information and imagination reside.

Will I continue past the nine years and into ten?  Likely so.  If I've gone this far and still have something to say and someone takes something from it, its been a useful exercise.  Looking back over time there have been some popular posts and its interesting to look at them and remember the process, the event, the good and the bad.  Have a look at some of the popular posts in the list on the right side.  Is your favourite there?

Thanks for coming along for the ride, I hope you'll stay for the rest of the journey.  I like having your company.

PS  The painting above is a demo painting from a recent workshop I gave in palette knife painting.  Those who know me know that I find pears a bit boring as they are such a constant subject in paintings.  However, the simple shapes and composition makes them good for beginners to tackle.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The value of colour

 Colour matching

If I had a magic wand for beginning artists, I would give them the gift of drawing and colour theory.  Both are areas that I see people struggle with and there is often an unwillingness to invest time in what are the backbones of art.  Without being able to create an underlying structure freehand and without knowing how to create colours and values, people become frustrated and unable to achieve their artistic potential. 

Artists need to  understand colour theory as much as they need to understand the importance of values.  These two areas are often a weakness where timidity and lack of technical skills play a part.  Both have a solution that involves some study of theory and some time spent practicing to really understand the rational behind the process.  I promise there will be an "Aha!" moment when it falls into place and opens the door for you to art without as much struggle involved.

Greys and browns

Just as in drawing with greys and blacks, paint colour also has a value.  Most people have seen a grey scale and its often one of the first things produced in a beginner's drawing class, but it rarely translates over in the colour world but is as important.  Values ranges or lack of them will make or break your painting.  Any object can be believeable in any colour if the values are correct.

The important things to remember are hue, which is the colour pigment itself; value, which is how light or dark a hue is; and chroma, which is the saturation level of a hue. Comparison of a colour to the range on a grey scale will provide you with an idea of value.  If you turn your colour or painting into a greyscale image, you can easily do the comparison to find where it sits on a value scale or compare it to a reference (if you're using a photograph) that's also greyscale.

Colour wheel

With time and practice you become familiar with colour values and can make the decisions around increasing and decreasing values.  The exercise at the top of this post shows my decision process in matching the colour chip shown.  I start with the overall hue, then I start to lighten the value, finally moving towards desaturating the hue using a complementary colour. 

The second image is a colour chart where I used a range of dark premixed tube colours then created my own chromatic black the the second column from the right.  The decreasing values in the column are increasing additions of titanium white to the colour in box above it.  The last column shows how I can increase the level of coolness or warmth by adding more of one of the primary colours used to create the base chromatic black.

Aside from learning to draw, the next best thing to know is colour theory. It will save you time, grief and money.