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



30 Paintings in 30 Days, days 22 and 23

The Boat Makers Tool Shed by Diane Eugster
Paper White by Diane Eugster

Days 22 and 23rd’s paintings are both still lifes of a sort, but very different in nature.

Several years ago we drove from Las Vegas to Albany, Oregon. We stopped many times along the way to stretch our legs. On one of these stops we found ourselves in a forest of  wild rhododendrons.  I tried once to grow some of these in our Las Vegas yard, but they need acid soil and ours is as alkaline as they come.

When I began to paint these I had no idea what colors were in the white flowers, so I worked my way from the obvious to the subtle. The large area of cool dark green was obvious. As I worked through the green I began to see blue and warmer passages but didn’t  get side tracked, the value is always more important than the color.

After the large dark was massed in, yes, those flowers were pale blue,pale violet, pale green and pale yellow, but again I massed in the more obvious pale blue, than worked toward the less obvious areas.. Whenever I got “stuck” in the flowers, I moved onto make the blue passages in the greens, than the warm passages, then back to flowers….everything was much easier to see now.

The Boat Makers Tool Shed by Diane Eugster

When visiting Seattle, Washington we visited a Boat Maker’s School. It was a fascinating place of partially constructed boats, a library of construction books and tool sheds filled with all sorts of equipment. My husband John is a woodworker and was explaining to me that these chisels all started out much longer but years of sharpening had rendered several of them unusually short. The years of patina on these well used tools made me wonder how many sets of hands had held them, and what about all the projects they helped to create…