Mostly what I'm interested in painting is flesh.
the paint to look alive, like blood id pumping through it.
This is not a new idea.
My approach has been to seek out a traditional palette.
Most of these colors have been in use for hundreds, if not
thousands of years.
I find that modern colors, while
beautiful, are too intense to describe the natural world.
I use a limited palette of six or seven colors usualy.
I like to work with traditional methods also, so I grind
most of these colors in a linseed oil that I also make.
Where I can, I also experiment with making pigments as well
Although I paint mostly in a direct painting or alla prima
style, when I'm not glazing, I do like to start with an
underpainting; a layer in greys to design the composition.
Small adjustments can be made, but mostly it lets me focus on
color after the first layer.
Flake white. Made from lead,
this color gets it's name
from how it flakes apart during the production process.
Regulations have made this a somewhat difficult and expensive
color to get. It is by far the preferable choice of white,
particularly for figurative work. It's vibrant, not flat or
chalky like titanium. When produced in the traditional
'stack process' method, I find it also has better working
properties, and great brush handling.
Raw & burnt sienna. I especially love these for underpaintings.
So warm and vibrandt. Almost don't need reds and yellows on top
of it. And a good range of mid to fairly dark tones without
going too dark. Also, some of the most satisfying colors to
grind, very easy to get a smooth buttery texture. Can't imagine
my palette without these.
Vermilion. This beautiful mid red has mostly been replaced by
cadmium red these days, but 150 years ago it was a staple of a
figure or portrait palette.
A few suppliers still make it, but
it does come with a heavy price tag.
It was first produced in the 4th century BC in China. It is a
synthetic version of the natural occuring mineral Cinnabar,
the natural source of mercury.
I first tried vermillion instead of cad about ten years ago
and was hooked right away. It has so much more life than a cad
in my experience. I could almost make a flesh tone tone with
this and white only. Does not drift into pinks, but can easily
drift orange depending on what you're mixing with it.
I have also begun experimenting with the mineral cinnabar.
Sometimes it can be found as a pure red crystal, but what I
have is a stone with reds and greys mixed throughout. I am
working on a video of my experiments with it. It'll see the light
of day if they work out.
Blues. I have a hard time finding a blue I'm happy with. I love
how subtle and rich lapis lazuli is, but obviously, it's too rare
to use consistantly. I've been making due with cobalt, although
it's chroma is so high, little dabs is all I need. Grinding
cobalt, like with most blues, is tricky not to make it too goopy.
What I've figured is after initial grinding, add a few drops of
heavy oil with a few drops of mineral spirits. Lapis lazuli;
historical ultramarine. Another color I've played with the
natural mineral to produce the color. A dense stone, it takes
a ton of work & some magic to make it into a usable paint. I
save this one for special occasions.
Naples yellow. Another color thats mostly been replaced by
cadmiums. I prefer the dark version, almost looks like an earth
tone, but still can produce a vibrant yellow on it's own. True
naples is made from lead and antimony. I don't make this at home.
Tough to find this pigment, but a few still carry it. Difficult
to grind, very stiff. The oil then seperates after it's been
tubed. This is one I'll probably buy the premade ones.
Burnt Umber. I have a love/ hate relationship with this color.
I mostly avoid using true black, so this fills in as the basis
for the basis for most of the darks. Burnt umber is dark and rich
with and almost gold undertone. The problem is how notorious it is
at sinking in as it dries. Creating pale flat tones. A combination
of light and heavy linseed oils seems to be the key to solve this
issue. Still working through the particulars.
Always more to
learn, I guess.