Red and Green are unavoidable this time of year.

Family Treasures No. 49

Family Treasures No. 49

This year’s Christmas tree is more traditional than usual.  It’s a fairly symmetrical branch from the locust tree that hit the house during Hurrican Sandy.  Wrapped in lights and adorned with Tom’s wax angel, the kid’s airplane guidance tree topper angel and the gold painted walnut ornaments I made for my family more than forty years ago, the tree is stunning.

I took advantage of the cells to add color to the painting, opting for the complementary color scheme of red and green, the colors of the Christmas season.  Having neither green needles on the tree nor red ornaments hanging from the branches, I used the background as my main source of color.

Family Treasusres No. 49 – Angels, Walnuts and a Wiseman.  Drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

Complementary Color Scheme of Red and Green – Limited Palette (cadmium yellow light, alizarin crimson, french ultramarine blue, a touch of cadmium red light, raw umber and burnt umber)

Another example of painting by both Color Value and Color Scheme …

Klutz Juggling CubesComparing Full-Color with Grayscale Mode

Klutz Juggling Cubes
Comparing Full-Color with Grayscale Mode

Color Scheme: Analogous with Split Complements (Yellow-Green, Yellow, Yellow-Orange plus Red-Violet and Blue-Violet)

Limited Palette: Aureolin, Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Red Light, Permanent Alizarin, French Ultramarine Blue and Manganese Blue.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Family Treasures No. 47, Klutz Juggling Cubes – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

To read the history of this Craftsman Electric Hair Clipper, read today’s post on Third Time Around.

Hair Clipper – Full Color and Grayscale

One method of painting by color value is to use full intensity colors, choosing the hue based on its intrinsic value at full intensity.

Intrinsic Color Value at Full Intensity

This is not a perfect color value scale.  The blue and the green were too diluted and dried lighter than I would like.  However, you get the idea …. I hope.

As you can see, yellow is always your lightest light.  Violet is always your darkest dark.  When it comes to everything between white and black, you can choose from either side of the diamond.  If you haven’t played around with this before, I suggest you use the left side (oranges and reds) for the surfaces that are illuminated by your light source.  Use the right side (greens and blues) for the surfaces in shadow.

Or, if you are really adventurous, mix and match all you want and you will still come out with a strong painting as long as you choose your hues to correspond correctly to the values seen on the objects you are using as models.


I began with a line drawing using a dip pen and “Nessie” ink. Using a limited palette of only three hues (Aureolin, Permanent Alizarin and French Ultramarine Blue) I mixed the other hues I needed to correspond with the values I wanted.  I mixed a yellow-orange, orange, yellow-green, green, and a slightly darker green moving toward blue-green.

First I painted the darkest dark, the shadows.  I let that dry completely so that I could see exactly how dark the violet shadows ended up. The second wash was the background, the yellow-orange.  These two washes define my value range, my lightest light (other than the white paper) and my darkest dark.  I then worked dark to light starting on the shadow side of the clipper and making my way around the surfaces from shadow to illuminated planes.

When I got to the clipper attachment I totally forgot what my goal was and simply played with the ink bleeding into a diluted blue-violet mix.  It is difficult to shut off my intuitive actions.

Family Treasures No.47 – Craftsman Electric Hair Clipper

I present this and other methods of painting by color value in the Color Value Workshops.

Tom’s bow ties are too hysterical for me to stop at only one painting.  This second study is an example of painting by color value.  I’ll be teaching a Color Value Workshop in Santa Rosa, CA at the end of January and another at the Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster, NJ in the spring.  One may also be scheduled in Salisbury, MD in the next few months.

Comparing the grayscale values

The image on the right shows the painting before adding another wash of violet to darken the shadows.

Grayscale mode of photograph

For variety, I lightened the value of the tie on the right.  Notice that the shadows are much darker than the bow ties.  When I mixed the violet for the shadows, I used too much water and the result was a wash that dried much too light.  I painted the rest of the painting before adjusting thew shadow value.  Had I painted using oil paints, the value of the mixed violet would not have lightened unless I added white.  The Color Value Workshop may be presented in either watercolor or oil.

Comparison in full color

Getting the values right is more important than getting the colors (hues) right!

Sketchbook drawings, color value studies: Family Treasures No. 46, Tom’s Bow Ties.  Drawn first with Sheaffer, snorkel, white dot fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness Ink, followed by watercolor washes.

When Nicole, Alexis and Mike were young, we went on Moon Walks each month when the moon was full.  We searched for reflections of the moon in puddles and streams.

Moon Walk Lanterns

A tea light candle was lit inside of these glass lanterns to light our way through the night, across fields and into the woods.

Sketchbook drawing: Family Treasures No. 43, Moon Walk Lanterns.  Drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

Color Scheme: Triad – Complementary (Yellow-Orange, Red and Blue-Purple)

At 3:03 am Tom handed me my birthday present and card.  The note on the card reads “Because you lose so much, I don’t want you to get lost.  Happy 61st”.  Inside the bag I found a compass and a flashlight.  Perfect!  Now, I may not know where I am, but I know what direction I’m facing when I paint the morning, afternoon or evening sky!

Compass and Flashlight

Playing the Color Scheme Game, I used an Analogous with Split Complement Color Scheme, my dominant color is yellow-orange.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Future Family Treasure No. 41, Compass and Flashlight.  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor and gouache.

An analogous with one complement color scheme becomes even more dimensional when neutralized tones are included.

Family treasures No. 40, Flower Press

I’m not sure if the scanned image portrays the neutrals properly.  The analogous colors are yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange with the complementary color being violet.  There are three variations of the yellow-orange, the background, the top surfaces of the flower press and the edges of the flower press.   All three are neutralized with a touch of the violet complement.

I drew the flower press too small to draw the daisy and pansy design on the wood, so I placed them in the background instead.

sketchbook drawing: Family Treasures No. 40, Flower Press 0 drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor.

Color Scheme: Analogous with one complement.

Back on track after extensive preparations for the upcoming Color Scheme Game Workshops

Family Treasures No. 29  Goggles and Wooden Circle Stamp

The Color Scheme Game forces reality to dissolve.  The throw of the twelve-sided die indicated an Analogous with Split Complements Color Scheme with the Dominant Color being orange. (Yellow-Orange, Orange, Red Orange with Blue-Violet and Blue-Green).  So much for the black goggles, the yellow tablecloth and the brownish stamp.  It’s great to start the day with such a colorful little painting.  It brings a smile to my face.

Sketchbook drawing: Family treasures No. 29. Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watercolor on BFK Rives paper.

Hand tools are excellent objects to play with abstractly.

Family Treasures No 25, Wooden  Scribe and Metal Square

After last week’s conversation with Dine, I’m more conscious of overlapping, crossing the boundaries of cells as well as creating illusions.  The metal scale works as an object while suggesting two separate cells.  Altering the scale of the tools within the same cell alters the illusion of space between the objects.

Color Scheme: Double Complements … Blue/Violet, Yellow-Orange and Blue, Orange.  the Blue-Violet is neutralized to create a stronger illusion of depth and dimension.

Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watercolor washes

The Color Scheme Game … Another example of using neutralized hues in a color scheme.

Family Treasures No. 24, Wooden Scribe

The color scheme is Semi Triad, two complements with one color two units to the left or right of one of them.  The dominant color is Yellow-Orange.  I began with full intensity saturation of the complementary hues, yellow-orange and blue-violet, in the foreground.  As I worked my way back, I neutralized the yellow-orange for the geometric cell shapes and moved toward the blue-green in the wooden scribes.

Family Treasures No. 24, My Father’s Hand Tools: Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by washes of watercolor.