Thursday, July 25, 2013

Landscape with Extended Zorn Palette

Clarence Foster Park
Oil on panel, 11 x 14 inches
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I wanted to try painting a landscape where the focus was on values, rather than on color. This painting was done using the famous Zorn palette: yellow ochre, ivory black, cadmium red or vermilion, and white. I had to throw in some Prussian blue. I tried starting without it, but couldn't carry the painting through without blue. The low chroma greens were mixed from yellow ochre and either Prussian or black, with various amounts of cadmium red.

On a side note, my ochre is Old Holland gold ochre, and it's the real thing (PY43, natural iron oxide). It's gritty under the brush and has low tinting strength compared to PY42. It's very different and feels like painting with dirt. Previous generations did so well with it. When this tube is gone I'll probably switch back to the synthetic.

The painting was carried out using the process I talked about in the last post: a few thumbnail sketches, followed by a value sketch on the panel (in raw umber this time), then the color.

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Handley, etc.

Here is another painting from the Handley area of Fort Worth (see the others in my last post).
Methodist Church, Handley
Oil on panel, 11 x 14 inches
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We had a few rain storms last week and I wanted to include some of the rolling clouds and clear skies. There is a certain clarity to the sunlight after a rain storm that just makes everything a pleasure to look at. And old churches like this seem to have a lot of interesting compositional opportunities.

Since it has been so hot here, I've been thinking about ways to keep myself from having a heat stroke while having the benefits of painting outside. In that spirit, this work was carried out in a few phases. I started with thumbnail sketches to decide on a composition. Next, I went out early one morning and nailed down an underpainting in a mixture of burnt sienna + ultramarine blue, to try and get the drawing as accurate as I could. Then, I worked for another quick session in front of the scene to capture the colors and values. Last, I brought the painting home and tweaked it in the studio to finish it off.

Breaking the painting up over a few sessions is an interesting way to work -- not only for the lack of sunburn, dehydration, and so on. I think it helped me to see errors I might not have noticed if I'd painted it au premier coup. Granted, you have to work to retain a look of freshness. To keep fresh paint on reworked areas, I scraped a lot with my palette knife and repainted directly on the panel ground. It's always good to rattle your own cage.