This is the apple color study – session 2 (session 1 is here). After the struggle with surfaces last time this was never going to be a masterwork. But it’s been interesting (never thought apples could be that interesting). The painting is never going to hang on a wall but I wanted to work more on this and really try to get the colors as close as I could. It’s really good training in mixing but more importantly in just looking. Getting closer I think.
Munsell Chips to the Rescue
A couple of years ago I was really struggling with color in my watercolor painting. After googling a little I found Paul Foxton’s site learning-to-see.uk. He is an oil painter and, after a workshop with Anthony Waichulis weeas a convert to using the Munsell classification for color. He found it transformed his color work and, I’m now a convert too.
I won’t go into details here. If you go to Paul’s site and/or youtube channel he has a lot of free videos describing his process. It has been a godsend for me. I’m now able to see, mix and use color much better. I can now be much more accurate in my mixes but that’s not the main thing. The fact that color identification and mixing is no longer a lottery for me I can now be *much* more expressive color-wise. Gaining a skill in this area has increased my powers of expression through paint and is much more enjoyable as a result.
I will likely go into more detail about Munsell and watercolor in upcoming posts.
So I used Munsell chips extensively in this apple painting. You can buy (at great expense sadly) a large book of 1600 painted chips which cover the gamut of all the colors you can reach in paint. Identifying the colors you need in you setup you can then pluck out the relevant chips and mix to those.
Thanks to Munsell chips the apple study – session 2 was a success!
Yes I never thought the title would be ‘oil painting surfaces- a cautionary tale’. Today was supposed to be a set of apple studies with different types of brushwork. It turned into a sorry saga of unsuitable surfaces. With pretty horrible results.
Strathmore Canvas paper – too absorbent for oil paint
As this was just meant to be some studies I first started with a quarter sheet of Strathmore canvas paper. I’ve used this before with good results but what I forgot was that I gessoed the surface first before painting on it. And this time I didn’t. Ugh! The paint just sinks in, you can’t blend it, and it somehow darkens and goes matte on the paper. After struggling for an hour or so trying to get the paint to cover the surface (it soaks in and in!) I gave up. Here’s the result:
Blergh. Almost no form on that left hand apple even though I was *so* careful with the values.
Not all ‘gessoboard’ is the same
After a quick stomp around the studio I fished out a small 5”x7” Ampersand gessobord. *Gesso* board so this surface must be ok yes? Hmm. Well it was better but boy so slick! The paint just rides around on the surface as there’s no tooth to speak of. It was definitely better than the paper but only just. Here’s my chunky block-in.
Kinda okay. I had a lot of trouble getting the chroma right on the light side of the apple. I was using Munsell chips but was still struggling. Will try and tweak that tomorrow and see if I can get it right. It has a certain charm but nowhere near what I was aiming for.
Finally I blended some of the edges and beefed up the darks a little. And that was it for the day. 4 hours – 2 apples! I have to get back to watercolor.
Apples today with Paul Foxton. A lot of detailed mixing but the whole thing only came alive when the detail spots and the highlight went in. Could do a lot more on this. I only started to see a lot of the detail towards the end when I was really looking at it. But fun thought.
So much going on this week but I managed to get a stab at this month’s Threads challenge. The object was to include a variety of edges in a still life. Not sure I’ve pushed it as far as I could but it’s a good first pass.
Keep those darks in reserve until the lights are in
Today was the Beginning Watercolor Session of sunflowers. Here are few progression shots of today’s class painting. As you can see things always look flat and almost cartoonish until quite a way through the painting. Then the darks go in and everything comes together. It’s one of the most difficult things to do in watercolor – holding back with the detail and getting the basic shapes and values right. It takes faith and a bit of experience but always reaps rewards.
New Direction for Watercolor Classes
Today was the last zoom class in my Beginning Watercolor Workshop for the Newton NewArts center. It’s been a fun 6 weeks and I always enjoy these classes. It’s good to get back to basics and go slowly through mixing colors, values, washes. However, I’ve decided to rethink this set of lessons. There’s a lot to get through in 6 weeks. I’m going to break it down into shorter 1 or two hour sessions based around techniques. These are going to be available in the next few weeks via YouTube and facebook livestreams. People will be able to buy them one by one depending on what they’re interested in.
I still love doing the whole painting demos and I will be offering these in parallel. This way you can take a technique class or two followed by a painting class or vice versa. I’m hoping this will work well and we had a great discussion in class today. We talked about what works when you’re starting out with watercolor that reflects these decisions.
As this was a private group class I don’t have video of this painting. If you’re thinking of taking classes (or just want to see how I go about things) please have a look at my youtube channel. Alternatively you can have a look at my video page on this site. I don’t have any sunflower painting currently. Howeve, there are a couple of other flower videos that may be of interest.
Original Sunflower Painting for Sale
A final note. After having this up in the studio for a while I decided I iiked a previous version of this enough to put it up for sale.