Again I squeezed out the colors I used for my Richard Schmid Color Charts: Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Terra Rosa, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Viridian, Manganese Blue and French Ultramarine Blue.

En Plain Air landscape, oil painting, 14" x 14" on board 'Backyard Hedgerow'

After the fact, I realized I never dipped into the Cadmium Yellow,Cadmium Red Light or the Burnt Sienna.  My greens are all variations of mixing Cadmium Lemon, Viridian and White.  The light, cool green is just Viridian with White.  Violets are mixes of Viridian and Alizarin Crimson.  The Grays are mixes of Terra Rosa with either Viridian, Manganese Blue or French Ultramarine Blue plus White.  All of my mixes consisted of no more than two colors, not counting white.

The color scheme turns out to be a modified triad, greens on the cool side, violets on the warm side and blues.  My focus was on mixing the values carefully.

By using a large palette I was able to judge my mixes against each other as I mixed them.  I found that I threw out all of the mixes in which I used Cadmium Yellow, Cadmium Red Light or Burnt Sienna.  Those are great colors, but they didn’t work with this painting.  Browns, reds and super warm greens stuck out like a sore thumb on the palette.  Fortunately I didn’t apply any to the painting.

My focus has been portability, lightweight easel, small canvas board, small palette and minimal tubes of paint. After watching Nikolay Mikushkin wheel his supplies to the far end of the vineyard and paint four large, gorgeous paintings this past weekend I decided to return to larger canvases, a much larger palette, more paint tubes and plenty of brushes.  Though I don’t have blossoming trees in my backyard, I do have the challenge of painting hedgerows and woods, neutral masses with manicures of emerging colors.

Blocking in the oil painting

I squeezed out the colors I used to make my Richard Schmid color charts: Cadmium Lemon, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Terra Rosa, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Viridian, Manganese Blue and French Ultramarine Blue.  I used one of my drawing boards, a 16″ x 20″ piece of 1/4 ” plywood, unsealed, for my palette and a 12″ x 16″ previously painted on and sanded down board for my painting.  Though not as large as I plan on painting, it is much larger than the 5″ x  8″ paintings I’ve been working on for the past year.  What was I thinking?  For me, the stroke is just beginning when I am already off the edge!

I premixed about eight colors to unsure a strong beginning of color harmony and value range.  What a relief to have enough room o my palette to mix substantial quantities of multiple colors and to see how they worked together.  Several of my mixes were scraped from the palette and discarded before they ever had a chance to cause problems on the canvas.

The subtleties of the still-bare branches eluded me.  When I became more adventurous and inventive with my color, the joy of painting in oil outdoors returned to me.  That joy had been sleeping while I worked on tiny boards.  A bit of the harmony vanished as more energy entered the painting.

After first session of painting

I’ll post it again after this afternoon’s session.

…….. I referred to my Richard Schmid Color Charts often while mixing my pigments.  This helped to keep my colors clean as sell as forcing me to be decisive about my choices.

I scraped my palette at the end of the session, but I didn’t clean it with turpentine.  I will allow the colors to build up on the board.  This provides a color reference for the following session, a record of colors used in paintings, as well as various colors and values to gauge new mixes against.

Painting: oil on prepared board, en plein air landscape of spring trees, hedgerow and woods

Nicole and I attended the current Van Gogh exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Grasses and Butterflies by Van Gogh, 1890

Grasses and Butterflies nearly knocked me off my feet.  Though I have seen Van Gogh’s work numerous times, I felt that I was seeing it for the very first time yesterday.  Playing the Color Scheme Day has expanded my experience of color in unexpected ways.  Not only do I see my surrounding differently, I also see other artists’ work through new eyes.  Work I never noticed now screams at me.  Work I previously admired I find lacking.  I have grown.  I can only hope that my work will reflect my growth.

Grasses and Butterflies by Van Gogh in Grayscale mode

Notice how strong Grasses and Butterflies still is when transformed into Grayscale mode.

The exhibit focused on the paintings created during the last few years of Van Gogh’s life.  I will carry the inspiration out into the field as I paint this spring.

My first oil painting of the Trumpet Parts Series.

Trumpet Parts No. 19 en plein air, oil painting 5" x 5"

Yesterday afternoon was sunny and warm in spite of it being early February.  I decided to bring a few trumpet parts outside to paint them, hoping the color inspiration would also be sunny and bright.  I didn’t expect the color scheme to go in the pastel direction, but it did. What excited me was the shadow shape cast onto the table.  I never could have created this in my indoor studio.  Bundling up, wearing hat, gloves and scarf was well worth it.

Painting: oil on wood panel, 5″ x 5″

Limited Palette: Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Scarlet Lake, Burnt Sienna, French Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Titanium White

I had packed up my paints and turned to carry them indoors when the cloud covering exploded. Patches of blue sky dared me to stay a little longer in the gusting wind.  How could I resist?

Winterscape Oil Sketch

I enjoyed ending a long, cold, wet day on the porch with a quick sketch inspired by the movement of the clouds and the ever-changing shapes of the little blue patches.  I’m trying to move away from such strong purples, but my instincts aren’t making that easy.  Next week I will choose a different, limited palette and try for more green grays and orange grays.

I find it easier to direct my color mixing of grays when I think of them based on the secondary colors of orange, green and purple rather than the primary colors, yellow, red and blue.  This may seem strange when I am working with a limited palette choosing one of each of the primaries without any of the secondaries.  Using my Color Wheel #5, I keep my gray mixes clean rather than muddy.

The wheel is more useful by not labeling the pigments I used to create the wheel.  As I am mixing, my brain adjusts to the variations of pigments by simply looking for the most common characteristics of the hue rather than nagging at me by telling me “That’s cadmium red and you’re using Scarlet Lake.”

Oil Sketch: painted on 5″ x 8″ prepared birch panel.

Limited Palette: Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Lemon, Cobalt Blue, Titanium White

Color Scheme: Complementary – Purple /Yellow with the yellow leaning toward green.

I can’t bear another gray morning …. so I invent a bit of brightness in the landscape.  My front porch protects me from getting soaked to the bone.

Rainy Winter Morning ... in my dreams

Still the same palette I’ve used all week: Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Lemon, Cobalt Blue and Titanium White.  I omitted the Sap Green.  My focus was on value, not color.  I enhanced the color for my own sanity. Perhaps by the end of winter I’ll figure out how to paint the clusters of thin, bare branches on the outer perimeter of trees without getting fussy.  I’m open to suggestions!  My trees end up looking like they are still wearing leaves.  I’m going for blocking in shapes rather than detail, but I would like to create a more bare branch illusion.

Oil Sketch: oil on prepared birch wood panel 5″ x 5″.  Complementary color scheme … purple / yellow, yellow dominant.

The fog refused to lift….. I just kept painting.  The first oil sketch leans toward a complementary color scheme, the second toward an analogous color scheme. The last two are more monochromatic.

Complementary Color Scheme

I used the same limited palette for all four paintings:  Scarlet Lake, Cadmium Lemon, Cobalt Blue and Titanium White.

Analogous Color Scheme

Monochromatic Color Scheme

I suppose one might call this analogous, too.  I need to stretch the definition of monochromatic or I would never use that color scheme.  It can be extremely moody and evocative, so I bend the rules.

Monochromatic Color Scheme

There’s a lot to be gained by doing several thirty minute oil sketches.  I begin to truly simplify, dropping details that get in the way of strong shapes and compositions.  This is my favorite of the four.

Oil sketches, 5″ x 5″, on prepared birch panels.  Painted yesterday morning, January 23, 2012