Mixing greens, and experimenting with camera settings…

Well, I got two things off of my list.  Everything else had to wait until after watercolor experimentation (hey the sun was up!).  😛

From top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow (Hansa Yellow Light)/Prussian Blue, Lemon Yellow/Chrome Cerulean (Daniel Smith), Winsor Yellow/Chrome Cerulean, Winsor Yellow/Prussian Blue.  In these tests I made a near-middle green first, then extended the color into blue going down; and yellow, going to the right.

I’m in the middle of relearning that in art, most skills and techniques can’t be learned unless the artist goes out of their way to try it themselves.  Learning about it in theory, or learning about it secondhand, won’t suffice.  Thus, listening to other people say what can and can’t be done, or will and won’t work, isn’t entirely productive.  Those other people may not share your conditions (as, say, maybe M. Graham paints do actually never dry, in tropical conditions; but maybe I don’t live in tropical conditions).

Today M stated that if I went to the art store again, I couldn’t go back for a week, because I was addicted.  *^_^*  I opted not to go and to save that trip for a later date, even though we were right there.  I knew that if I could first practice with the paints I have, I would then have a better idea about anything I needed, as versus something I might need but was not sure about.

What I can tell, though:  15ml tubes are probably about the right size for intense color.  I have a bunch of tiny tubes (5-7 ml), but really those are great for testing colors…not for being mainstays.  And I’m not sure if I want to keep to Winsor & Newton, now that I have had a taste of other brands (particularly:  Grumbacher, M. Graham [I really love their Hansa Yellow — it disperses beautifully — I haven’t tried it wet-on-wet yet], Daniel Smith, Mijello).

Of course, though, it’s necessary to be a smart consumer and know what you’re buying before you buy it — there have been a lot of complaints that I’ve seen about Mijello Mission Gold brand being “mislabeled,” but it really seems that “mislabeling” is industry-standard and that companies telling you the actual pigments they’re using is a mark of quality.  I don’t think they’re required to do so, unless the paints contain one or more ingredients requiring a carcinogen warning under California Proposition 65.

I’ve just been learning things piece by piece, and each new bit of information makes me want to experiment, more.  Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately), there are no decent art stores in my area…and waiting at home encourages research

Anyhow, I’ve also been experimenting with camera settings.  The two photos I’m showing here were taken on the “Tungsten” lighting setting on my camera.  Although I was under fluorescent lighting, these images were the closest I came to what I had seen while the Sun was up (though they didn’t capture everything:  for example, M. Graham Hansa Yellow [I tend to just call this Lemon Yellow, as versus Hansa Yellow Light, or Pigment Yellow 3 {PY3} or Arylide Yellow, but in the spirit of accuracy…] and Winsor Green [Blue Shade] make a nearly fluorescent green combination when combined, seen below left).

(I tend to work by the edict that a color can be neutralized and thus dulled down, but the amount of light it reflects cannot be made brighter than it initially is…though that thought has been questioned by those around me…possibly because warm and fluorescent colors can appear psychologically brighter than white?  I don’t know.  I’ve noticed that I have a relatively high-key palette, though, and that is for this reason.)

Anyhow — every other camera setting cast a brownish tone over the entire image, which I knew I would have to edit out in Photoshop.  Turns out, it’s much easier to take the photo correctly, the first time.  😛  I also realized that I could alter the white balance on these images directly in my camera, instead of applying filters after the fact.  (Both of these images were taken with the white balance shifted a bit brighter than the light in the room.  Which, like taking the photo under the “Tungsten” setting even though I was under warm fluorescent light, did help with color fidelity.)

There was no processing after-the-fact (post-processing?) I knew how to do that I could do here, that would have helped — other than a judicious applying of the Skew tool to unskew my camera positioning.  But I thought that would be a little much.

Top to bottom:  Lemon Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Green (Blue Shade), Lemon Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Winsor Yellow/Winsor Blue (Green Shade), Aureolin/Winsor Blue (Green Shade).  For newbies, Winsor Green and Blue are both Phthalocyanine colors, with Winsor & Newton branding in these particular names.  Aureolin is genuine Aureolin, PY40.

What I found is that I get some **** clean colors out of Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) and Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), when they’re combined with the lighter Hansa Yellow (which is a cool, delicate, light yellow, often referred to as “Lemon Yellow”).  Phthalo Blue (GS) combined with Aureolin also makes really bright, pure, strong mixes.  I will indeed be sad if Aureolin does discolor with moisture and/or light…

…and I’m thinking of going over some of these swatches again with glazing in their original color mixes, in order to deepen them.  (I’ve already done this on maybe 3 or so squares, where I used too much water.)  It will be easier to see differences in hue, that way.

Prussian Blue and Chrome Cerulean (1st image) also make decent mixes with Lemon Yellow; in addition to Prussian Blue mixing well with Winsor Yellow (according to Blick’s website and handprint.com, this is a benzimidazolone [or Benzimida, I’ve also heard it called] yellow; and I’ve just manually checked it:  it is Pigment Yellow 154 [or, PY154], which concurs).

I got some really…slightly surprising reactions of the Chrome Cerulean with Winsor Yellow, however (1st image, third from the top).  I wouldn’t repeat the process, unless it were to see if the pigments settled out because of the amount of water in the paint (too much).  This mixture granulated heavily in the mixtures tending more toward Cerulean, in a way that I didn’t really find attractive or currently useful (you might, though!).  However, using less Cerulean and more Benzimida could add a subtle touch to …something.  I don’t know what, right now.

This is as far as I got today before I had to stop.  I was working on cheap paper because I was just doing scales…but I’ve got to say that the Fluid cold-press watercolor paper (second photo) was much more of a joy to work on than the Strathmore 300 rough I was trying to use up (in the first photo).

I’m kind of glad I don’t have any more of it, now… 😉

Rounding out the palette

Alright then.  Although it was against my better judgment, I did go out and get a Prussian Blue and a Cerulean.  The Cerulean I got, though…may need to be mixed with the Phthalo Green or Viridian in order to achieve qualities that would allow it to effectively tone down very warm colors…I haven’t trialed it yet, and so am not sure.

Trial Five:  by the way, the increased texture on the Aureolin (Yellow), Cerulean Chromium (Blue), and Phthalo (Blue) colors may be due more to the paper I used than to paint qualities…

I neglected to see that Daniel Smith (the brand I ended up getting, as that was what was available) had more than one variant of PB36 (Pigment Blue 36).  Or, maybe more to the point:  I neglected to see that both PB36 and PB35 were pigments for things named “Cerulean.”  I was expecting something a bit greener, though got scared when I attempted to check the color in the store and felt pressure releasing towards the cap.  Because the people at Blick spent a full 5 minutes (at least) trying to locate what I wanted (and did the research for me), I then was OK with leaving with this.

What I can say is that my “Cerulean Blue, Chromium,” from Daniel Smith is almost brighter than my Phthalo Blue (Green Shade)!  That’s certainly saying something!


I’ve tried to adjust the colors here to be accurate to what I saw, earlier.  The Prussian Blue is a bit more intense and bluer than Cotman Prussian Blue, but it’s very subtle.  They appear to be the same value when dry, it’s just that one (the Winsor & Newton Cotman [student-grade] formulation) is grayer than the other, as an illustration of the quality differential between student-grade and professional-grade.  It’s kind of a weird thing to try and describe.  Maybe I should take a picture of it…

I believe that the “Cerulean Blue, Chromium,” is PB36…PB35 would have given me something more along the lines of what I expected:  a greener blue-green.  Because of the way this blue looks, though…I might be able to temper it with one of those ugly mostly-green colors with a hint of blue in order to have the color I was originally going for… 😉

I did get the Cerulean to mix greens and dull down colors, though.  It wasn’t something which I was planning to utilize on its own…this is why there is that one gap in my “earth tone” section, in the first image.  When and if I get a gross-looking green-blue to mix with the Cerulean, I’ll put it there.  😉

I think I’m about ready to fill my palette, now…

Okay, I don’t need the Indanthrone Blue:

I did a little research, and at handprint.com found that Indanthrone Blue can be approximated by Phthalo Blue + Permanent Magenta (both of which, I have!).  I’ve also recalled what Prussian Blue looks like, and am no longer so hot on it.  I may want to paint out a bit of what I have in Cotman stock, however.

This web page is particularly helpful where it comes to this…

I have a vision, now…

I needed to unwind after the homework I’ve been doing today…so, I completed what I will (for now), of my paint spreadsheets!

What I can say is that with all the paint I have, I really should be painting.  Like, actually painting.  And not. worrying about. running out. of. paint.  Jeez.

I think my oldest gouache (which was what I used in Color Dynamics) dates back to around 2007 (I was mistaken with my earlier timeline: 2009 was when I started looking for a job, not when I started taking Art classes).  The newest paints I have, I purchased this year.  But given how much I’ve painted this year (since my Art program ended), it’s really going to be a waste if I don’t use these before the tubes decay.

(If you didn’t see the backpost, I had a number of tubes of acrylic paint from 2015 which I tried to check on, and either the caps broke [i.e. fell apart], or the necks twisted off of the tubes.  I’m thinking UV damage…)

Of course, this can be remedied by buying empty tubes to put my color into when — not if, but when — this happens again.  I just haven’t done it so far, because I really don’t know what I’m doing (it’s a liability when you’re an artist, to avoid doing something because you don’t know what you’re doing)…but if I can save a tube of paint, it should be worth it.  The only thing lost if I screw up is around $1 per tube…but if I’m successful, I might be able to save $8 of paint.  Not its fault it was packed into a biodegradable…

*pssh*, I’m going to stop there.

The plastics are not meant to be kept around a long time.  And they probably still end up killing sea life…

I’ve been having some fun, though, scribbling around on index cards (I had to use them for a school project), and realizing that I really need not to be fighting myself where it comes to my creativity.  I need to be experimenting and messing up and retrying different things.  For example:  really checking those black Uni-Ball Signo gel pens to see if they’re waterproof (I know the white ones, aren’t).  How much effort would that take?  Really?

A major problem is that I seem to have a predetermined idea of what it is for me to make art, and it doesn’t match my actual working process.

I have an example, a bit hindered by a lack of a photograph, but I keep wanting to draw elements circling around a space.  When I don’t know what to draw, I keep coming back to this.  I allowed myself to go on with it for some time on the back of an index card with a ballpoint pen (because who cares if I screw up an index card), and actually …it looked like something, when I was done.  I felt like there needed to be some focal point that the lines were circling around…but what if there isn’t?  What if there’s just a space?  What if there’s LIGHT?

This was pretty exciting, when I got to it, especially considering that the last time I was earnestly working at art, I had gotten into a “water” mode…I can definitely see this piece as an interpretation of looking up at the sun from underwater.

I probably won’t be able to render that in any form of optical perfection, but I can try and represent it as best I can…and maybe I can devote my 30″x30″ canvas to this, so I can really work large (well, for me, large!).  I think the biggest canvas my travel easel can hold is 34″ on the shortest side, but still:  the largest painting I ever had to deal with was 24″x30″, and I had to cart it back and forth to school.  If I get bigger (like bigger than myself, bigger), I will need bigger brushes as well as a bigger easel, so I’m keeping it mid-size, for now.

I’ve also come to the point of realizing that I can’t just make art when I have a good idea as to what to depict.  I can’t go from full stop to masterpiece, and only paint masterpieces.  It doesn’t work that way.  I need to be putting in time and work like I’ve been putting in with my guitar, or with my writing.  Of course, with guitar practice, I get a physical cue when I haven’t played in too long:  my fingertips start to tingle.  With writing, I become restless when I haven’t written anything.  With art, I just become terrified to start again.

But seriously…there really isn’t anyone here to judge me but me and my parents, and my folks will probably laud anything I do draw or paint as better than they could do.  My teacher used to say, “you are your own first and harshest critic,” and I really think it’s true, at least in my case.