Thursday, November 5, 2015

Pallete Changes

                  Recently, I've started to make some changes to my basic pallete. I have for many years used titanium white. Titanium white is a good, strong, opaque white that easily lightens any color. It does however have some drawbacks. For one thing, it seems to push most colors towards the blue spectrum, even earth colors. I would compensate by loading in yellow ochre when I wanted to bring the color back towards orange or yellow. Another problem is that it dries somewhat unevenly so that you lose some of the more subtle mixtures that you're seeing while the paint is still wet. When I was studying cast painting I was instructed to use lead white (cremnitz). I enjoyed using it but I was reluctant to make it a permanent part of my palette because I believed that eventually it would be banned. Well, it wasn't banned but it has gone way up in price. At any rate, I decided to go ahead and start using it, I really don't use all that much white in my mixtures anyway. It is a bit more transparent then the titanium but it also gives some very subtle value changes that don't go away when the paint dries. The other change that I've made is to start using hand ground earth colors. They're a bit more expensive, a few dollars really, but the pigment load seems much stronger. Since I use a lot of umbers and ochres the stronger pigments combined with the flake white have changed the appearance of my paintings. I'm finding that I have less dead zones and the overall color harmonies and tonalities seem improved. I am generally of the opinion that when one is looking to improve their work that the fault doesn't usually lie in the technical area; brushes, paints, canvas, etc;. Usually improvements are made by spending more time on the setup, drawing, color mixing, etc;. In this case though, I feel like making the changes that I made was the right way to go. Here's a new piece that you can judge for yourself.
                                         "Captain's Table" oil on panel, 12" x 16"