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I also worked with oils this month. We were very happy to have a month of warm and sunny weather in Virginia. It was so warm that lady bugs circled around me and my easel any time I was outside. And they are not as harmless as they seem - they bite like flies. Nevertheless I managed to start and complete several paintings, mostly in the Blue ridge mountains, which are so full of vibrant colors right now. I decided to stay away from dark values and switch to the lighter ones, especially when depicting the grass, flowers, distant trees and moutains.



This is the painting of the field with some bluish flowers and reddish grass, oil, 20x20 in. Plein air. It is a high chroma painting. The main colors of masses are light red, light yellow/green and blue/violet of the mountains. All colors are in fact analogous colors, which are close to each other in the colors wheel – reds, oranges and yellows. I don't use them from the tubes, but mix not more that two of them plus white. For the red of the grass I mixed cad red light (or vermillion), white and cad yellow deep. For the blues in the flowers I went for ultramarine blue, light cad violet and white. The same for the distant mountains, but more blue. For the grass in the foreground and the tree – cad yellow light ( really light), sky blue (like cerulean, but very light in value) – you can find these colors in "Charvin" oils at I use mostly Charvin colors, 150 ml tubes.They have a wide range of light pinks, violets, blues, etc, which can save you white and help you to mix medium and light value colors faster. Keep in mind that I painted the darks of the foreground really dark to create a good contrast with the sunlit grass. I went for a mixture of mauve or warm dark reddish violet (you can also try Purple lake, Mauve of Gamblin and Lukas oil colors); also burnt umber and Paynes gray (which is in fact very dark blue/black).Paynes gray is a great color to mix with if you want to achieve neutral dark colors. Other blues are more saturated. Another option is Indigo. You can mix Paynes gray with any kind of yellow to get dark greens and reds to make your own violets.

Personally I love dark and medium trasparent reds and violets like Alizarin crimson, Mauve, Purple lake, Purple madder, Magenta, Quincidrone Magenta, Quincidrone Red, ThioViolet, Thio Red Rose (by Gamblin). They mix really well with transparent blues like Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Phtalo Blue to create all shades of violets; yellows like burnt sienna, burnt umber, indian yellow, other transparent yellows, like yellow or orange oxide to create oranges and browns. Just remember that the mixing of dark transparent primary colors and white may create beautiful mixtures of secondary colors – green, orange and violet. Transparent colors are very strong and allow to mix more saturated colors. The are good for mixing darks. Opaque colors (ochres, cerulean, all red, blue and yellow cadmiums) are weaker in intensity (there is less pigment in them and a lot of white) and are good for mixing medium value and light value colors, less saturated. For mixing really light values Aurelion (or Cad red light), cad yellow light, cad lemon, naples yellow, light pink and other light value colors may be used. Again look up Charvin and Gamblin colors. Holbein has some great light value colors but on the expensive side. I will start a series a demos on how to mix transparent and opaque colors taking into consideration their temperature and saturation.


Here is another example of light value of fall colors I used in the distance trees along the Blue ridge parkway in Virginia. Oil, 20x16 in. Plein air and studio.


Look at the values at the following gray image. The values are very close. The values range is 1-4. The darkest dark is in the right low corner. The value of the sky, light on the distant trees, light on the road is the same. Using lighter values in a painting helps to make a scene more romantic and gentle.