Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Black, Orange, Yellow & White

So I've been having fun playing around with just using these 4 colors: Ivory Black, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow and Flake White. Essentially they are the three primaries. Ivory Black is blue, orange is my red and yellow is yellow- ha. I have been looking a lot at the Barbizon painters this month (Corot, Daubigny and Rousseau) and I was amazed at how effective their paintings were even without an array of color.  Nowadays (hee hee), we have soooo many choices when it comes to color - and I love it. I mean I can't imagine a world without Sorolla's cobalt violet  - BUT I think about all of the beautiful works that were created hundreds of years ago like DaVinci, Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Velasquez and Titian. In fact I think it was Titian that said all you needed was a red, black, yellow and white to paint.  Also, if you look at some of Sorolla's early academy works the presence of all that fun bold color is not there.  Of course I'm not poo pooing color, but I think there is something to be learned from their use of the limited colors they had - the subtlety and restraint, and also how strong their other skills had to be to carry the painting without the salivation of color. Sometimes, when we have so much readily available we can also lose something special.

  I've always gone back to a limited palette from time time when I feel it's time to strengthen my skills again. I experimented with this particular combo on some of my sunrises.   I wanted to try exploring this limited palette to see if I could get more harmony in my work.  I feel as though it is taking me back to focusing on using temperature changes and how the more de-saturated tones help the saturated colors have stronger effect. I also think that it forces me to focus on other things that need improvement in my work, like composition, shapes and value...once I don't have the distraction of "color matching".

So here are some of the results and I hope you will give it a try as well!  (If you use social media use the #blackandorangepainting so we can follow along). 

I was really amazed how just Ivory Black + White looks so blue among all of the other orange and yellow tones....and vice versa. Here are a couple of examples:

The greens in this one were just made with Ivory Black & Cadmium Yellow

Again the colors that were achievable in this one amazed me too. I love how Cadmium Orange looks so pink with just a little bit of white and it looks purple with a little bit of black and white.
This one was done with a little bit different combo, I just substituted the cadmium orange with Burnt Sienna. The Sienna is transparent and does not look so cupcake pink as the orange. I loved the warmth and luminosity of this one.

On these two I substituted black with Burnt Umber + Cobalt Blue.


Friday, April 1, 2016

Ebb & Flow

April's Mini Painting Giveaway

Winner is Carlos Herrera. Congratulations Carlos!!!

It seems like a daily challenge as an artist to actually make art! Ironic since it is our very job and since we chose the must be in our nature... to make it. Yes?  I am sure that I am not alone in that, however that may be, I seem to have a resistance to actually doing the work.  Some people seem to us to be super human and  above these lowly commoner feelings (wink), but I guarantee you they are not, but maybe they have developed better tools to make the load a little lighter.  I think everyone struggles with this to a certain degree and some wind up paralyzed and like a dusty forgotten book on a shelf, rotting in isolation, never having the chance to fulfill their purpose.  What's underneath this green goblin is of course the usual suspects: fear of failure/rejection and a biological disdain for discomfort.  So how do people move past these issues to become champions, the best in their field or just productive enough to not feel like shit about themselves?  My personal experience has been that I must accept that this is a daily fight and that it is part of being human.  I am not exempt from being human. It's in our nature to have fears, doubts, disappointments and jealousy. 

So the first step, I think, is to show some compassion and understanding for yourself. After all this is the person who is trying to protect you from pain, embarrassment and wants you to fit in so you don't get clobbered by criticism.  It's just trying to do it's job.

Step #2   is while acknowledging this part of yourself and not shaming yourself for it, you must develop a plan to deal with it.  I know that when I give in to this side and don't create, the next day  will be even harder and I walk with a heavier chain of shame and regret. If this is you, and you have 100 links of chain of regret and shame of not creating then I beg you to forgive yourself and give yourself a NEW beginning.

Part of my plan is that I write down what my biggest triggers are for inaction and then I write what I will do when this happens to take action.  So for example,
  • Trigger: Jealousy. 
  • Result: Hopeless and don't want to make art. 
  • Cause: Fear that I am not enough. 
  •  Actions: 1. Find 3 people to compliment and appreciate their efforts. 2. Examine my own history and actions and thank myself for all that I have done. Appreciate the hard work I have put in.

Step #3   Say YES to pain.  One way to build up your pain tolerance is to keep experiencing it. Every time you push through pain and realize that you are not going to die from it, you get a little bit stronger. It doesn't get easier, but you will get stronger. Yes, just accept that it never gets easier.  One way I have integrated this is my life is by taking action immediately. Part of doing the sunrise paintings is that I am immediately dealing with this problem as soon as I wake up.  I don't give myself time to think. I wake up, make coffee, get in the car and go paint. Immediately, I am saying to myself you are a creator and today you will create. 
Self Talk Tactics.  Another thing I like to do is, self talk. So I will literally say, "Let's do it!", "Bring it on!" "Bring on the pain!" "I'm willing to fail!" "I'm ready to suck!". "Let's do it!" "Let's get it started!"  Yes, you feel kind of silly - but it changes your state of mind.  Then, immediately move into action after this.  Sometimes for me, it's actually jumping in the car to do a plein air sketch and setting up a simple still life right away.

Their are periods when the struggle is harder and I find being an artist so hard....then because our bodies and minds have to change...(Enter the song Spinning Wheel....You know the song, what goes up must come down....).......the next period is followed by almost a euphoria or enlightenment of "What was my problem?" This is so easy!  Don't be fooled by the latter, the former will show up again. I'm not trying to be pessimistic, again just saying that this is the natural ebb and flow. Your awareness of that ebb and flow can help you to get through the ebb and enjoy the flow but realizing that the ebb must follow it.

Happy Painting Everyone!!!!!!!  Wishing you all much success!

My favorite books are:

The Art of war
The Art spirit
The Artist's way - Daily
The Tools - by Phil Stutz & Barry Michels

Some of my Take Action paintings while I was in Ebb. :)