Who Buys Those Colors?

Going through the online art supply site, making up my order for paints I’ve often wondered who buys those strange “off colors” like Dove Grey, Grey Green or Monotint?

My question was answered last week when I attended the Joseph Lorusso  Workshop at Scottsdale Artists School.

One of the key reasons I signed up for Joseph’s class was to see how he achieves those rich but subtle color harmonies. Viewing one of his paintings is like discovering gems, little interactions of color everywhere.

The afternoon of the first day I was faced with uncorking these odd tubes of paint that were on our class supply list.  Next, trying to figure out what to do with them. Ummm…Monochrome Tint Warm, kind of a khaki beige, maybe I’ll put it right here next to the Yellow Ochre on my palette. Green Grey, maybe next to Olive Green, Yellow Grey, a lot like Monochrome. These colors felt like total strangers to me.img_2452

It took me a full week with these colors on my palette to see the unique usefulness they offered.

Joseph talked a lot about suppressing white, holding the values close. The more I studied his paintings the more I saw the magic happened in those midrange tones.greyscale

The mid-range between values 4 and 7 also happen to be where most of these “off colors” live. Now I get it! These colors are just midtone greys, mixtures I would probably end up making on my palette eventually, but now I can could easily grab these to modify other tones. If I have a value 4 red that needs to be muted,  I have a two-step process in front of me. First I need to add green, now it’s too dark, the value has slipped into 2 or 3, so I need white to bring it back to value 4, unless I use Holbein’s Green Grey which is already a value 4. Once I got the hang of these new colors they transformed from strangers to friends.

It’s always good to open up the possibilities of using new materials, seeing things a little differently. The painting below I did in open studio using some of these concepts, no white and only a small amount of Naples Yellow .peasantlr



Getting “Normal”

It’s been one week since we arrived in Scottsdale and our days are starting to get somewhat “normal”.

John found his bench for carving picture frames was too high when placed on the apartment floor carpeting, so he went out on the patio and sawed the legs down-

IMG_1320Can you get kicked out of an apartment complex for that?

Have organized my studio area in a way that I feel comfortable with. The lighting needs some tweaking but it will do for now.


In the evening, my first night at the Scottsdale Artists School open studio. The first thing I learned…leaving at 6pm for the 6:30 session was going to get me a place in the third row toward the back of the room, note to self….leave much earlier next time.

I found a group of all ages and skill levels. During the breaks everyone walked around the room to see what was being done by other artists, a very stimulating atmosphere.

We had a good model but it took me some time to get adjusted. By the end of the first hour I was getting in the flow. By the end of the second hour I was tired and very tempted to call it a night, but I reminded myself, these longer poses were a great thing to take advantage of. The last hour was really worth staying for as I was able to pull the portrait sketch together and iron out some of the problem areas. A good session, looking forward to many more, Wednesday is figure gestures!

Tuesday night Portrait Open Session

How to Critique a Painting in 5 Steps

Pin-Diane-Eugster-CritiqueWe all know that Sorolla was a master artist, so I am going to use one of his paintings, Evening Sun, to illustrate the points below.

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903
Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

1. Composition

Does your eye flow throughout the painting or does it stop awkwardly and hit dead ends?

Notice how the elements of this painting draw you right in and form a loop that keeps your eye moving around and around.

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

2. Color

Has color been used to provoke an emotion or just copied, are similar colors woven throughout?

Sorrolla uses a grayed green tone many times in this painting, whether it is a hat, water or shadow on an ox. This repetition creates a wonderful harmony.

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

3. Unity

Have elements been treated stylistically the same across the painting?

Sorrolla uses a wave-like shape in all areas of the image, creating the strong feeling of movement. Notice the one strong horizontal line at the horizon that anchors all of this motion.

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

4. Center of Interest

Do element within the painting support the Center of Interest?

Sorolla shows us what a master he is by putting his center of interest successfully in the middle of the painting. Does anything convey strength like the muscled hind ends of those oxen fighting the rushing waves?

Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903
Evening Sun by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida 1903

5. Emotion

Is the painting a collection of “things” or does it evoke a deeper emotion in you?

Is this painting “Evening Sun” by Sorolla y Bastida simply a seascape with some oxen and figures. . . you decide.

New Painting, Dreaming in Red

Dreaming in Red by Diane Eugster


When I began “Dreaming in Red” , I knew the feeling I wanted, so it was a matter of taking the tools and making them work for me.

Soft and ethereal meant large soft brushes and a paint consistency that I could easily move around the canvas. Using vivid warm tones of Cadmium Red light and Cadmium Red Deep neutralized with Viridian green gave me the bohemian atmosphere I pictured.

Beginning stage of Dreaming in Red


It was then a matter of how much and where it should happen to make the image materialize.


Yes! A Better Photo Shoot

I showed up at Ed’s studio at 9:30 with my bag of scarfs and gloves, clothes on hangers, cameras (always have a spare in case of a malfunction) and new 50mm lens. We pinned fabric curtains in the window,  moved chairs around and talked about potential poses before Harley arrived.

Harley , who is truly wonderful, was our model today. Always on time, upbeat personality, easy to work with, beautiful, what more could you want?

After experimenting on my cat and dog I was anxious to try out my new camera lens on a real person. After the first few photos, with some adjustments, I could see the images on my camera were nice and sharp in limited light, much better than my old zoom lens.

Both of these photo were taken using available window light, one facing south and the other west.

It’s always fun working with another artist, the collaboration of ideas expands the potential to get great shots exponentially.

Now to get the images off the card and start painting-

30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 12

This painting was more about not painting than anything else. That’s right, there was so much subtly going on in this dusk scene of a bank of trees, I spend far more time looking and trying to understand just what I was looking at then actually painting.

6PMAlbanyOregonLR2Thinking things like, is that shape lighter or darker than what’s next to it, is it cooler or warmer, were the questions I asked myself over and over. It reminded me of that passage in the bible “be still and listen”.

It’s such a temptation in a seemingly simple subject like this to just grab a brush and start slashing around. But really paying attention to what’s going on, and yes, “let the painting speak to you”, is the way to grab ahold of the subtle things that matter.


30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 6

And I thought today was going to be the easy day. The image for today was a high contrast picture of a young woman with thick black hair. I rendered this subject in a monotone of Indian Red and White. I’ve always liked using Indian Red because the lightest value is a pink, not to cold, it’s darkest, right out of the tube value is a rich decadent brown red.

After I roughed in the obvious, darkest darks, lightest lights and midtones I could see getting those in between shades was going to be the most important. Like writing music, one note to high would shatter the melody, too many high notes would weaken the harmony. I felt like I was walking a tight rope, keeping balance, not veering too far to one side or the other. To keep the darks really rich I had to keep any hint of opaque lighter tones exactly where they were intended. The easy day……not today!

DreamingLR2Take a look at the other Artist’s work that are involved with the Challenge


30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 4

This has happened with the previous three paintings; after several hours into the painting, I get a very clear vision of the subtle nuances in the subject, things that need to be rendered with deft brushwork and careful value adjustments, unfortunately it’s also the point when I’m getting tired, want to rush things and get sloppy – when I pick up the brush and think, this thing really needs to be cleaned but I use it anyway.

This is the supreme exercise for me, to stand back, take a deep breath and concentrate on the task at hand.

I was telling my husband about this phenomenon and he said, yeah like when you take a road trip, the first five hours on the highway is no problem but it’s when you near the destination and you’re getting tired you have to slow down watch the city traffic, find addresses etc……exactly!

I thought about several options for a color palette. A monotone using Terra Rosa, a two color palette of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, but I decided on Cad. Orange, Cad. Red Deep, Cobalt Blue and Ivory black. Here’s the block in-

IMG_0967And the final painting-



30 Paintings in 30 Days

The other day while I was listening to Leslie Saeta’s podcast Artists Helping Artists I heard about her 30 day challenge. The challenge was to paint 30 paintings, one a day, for the month of January.

I’ve heard of groups of artists who commit to a painting a day and thought it was an interesting concept. There is an artist named Carol Marine who just published a book on the subject, Daily Painting.

The possible benefits to my painting?

  1. No time to second guess myself, make a decision and move forward
  2. Plan thirty compositions on the fly
  3. Use the painting tools with a higher skill level, one stroke instead of eight
  4. Get to the essence of what I have to say in paint

O.K., where do I sign up? At Leslie’s challenge site. It’s kind of fun because a map shows me places around the world where other artist’s have signed on.panels

What else? Go through photos I’ve been holding onto because I felt they had merit and choose 30 subjects, ( some, not subjects I usually paint), next prepare 30, 8″ x 8″ panels to paint on, ( just an arbitrary size I decided on).


It’s not to late for you to join too…..


Experimenting with Color, Painting without White

I like to throw a challenge out to myself when planning a painting, it wakes me out of the trance of doing things the same way all of the time.

I began this painting by using only the paint colors that I had to in order to paint the subject. Being very conservative about my choices was a good way of experimenting with color.

The most obvious thing I needed was a red, Cad Red Medium wouldn’t let me get the warmer orange reds, so I decided on Cad Red Light.


As I looked further I could see some rich cool reds would also help the painting so I went ahead and added Cad Red Medium (though later on in the painting I saw I could have done without it).

The darkest darks in the image where brown, so Burnt Umber made the list.


The warm light in the image made Naples Yellow my choice, which is one of my favorite colors because of it’s buttery light tone and it’s opacity.

blo4 I grabbed my tube of white as if almost by habit, than stopped myself, can I get by using Naples Yellow in place of white? The answer was yes,using Naples Yellow instead of white kept the warm glow in the image. The opaque quality lighten up the Umber, while keeping some warmth, burnt umber can get very grey when mixed with white. The pinks that were made with the reds and the naples yellow kept the color harmony in the painting.

Lady in Red by Diane Eugster
Lady in Red by Diane Eugster