Sunday, July 5, 2009

Open, at last!

I finally had a reason—well, two reasons—to try Golden's Open (slower-drying) acrylic paints, and I'm hooked already. Decent-sized blobs of paint will stay moist and un-skinned overnight, and some have lasted through a second night, without any help or covering from me! Hooray! I've been putting off buying them as long as I could, but I finally got to a point where I wanted a good yellow-orange, and I happened to have a 25% coupon for Art Media, so I splurged. I bought their two little intro sets, a couple other colors I wanted, and some medium and thinner, and I've started one big painting and am finishing up a previously stalled work:

I haven't really made a lot of use of the paint staying moist longer on the canvas, but it's obvious that it does stay moist longer, so I hope to be doing some wet-in-wet on the other painting I'm working on. So, I won't have to rely exclusively on glazing for "mixing" colors on the canvas. I expect it to take me back to a bit of oil paint technique, which is exactly what I'd like to be able to do. But glazing with the medium does work just as well as it does with the Atelier paints I've been using for several years.

So thank you, Golden, for bringing out this unique capability in these paints. I would like it if you'd add a few more violet hues and a good yellow-green.

This painting had to sit for a long time after I had done the first 90% of it I had started it with only the vaguest feeling of where I wanted to go with the colors, and it took me a long time—weeks—of ignoring it to reach some level of comfort with where it ended up going. When I picked it up this morning I made just a couple corrections, muting some of the violet and adding some yellow-green and gold touches. I still have it in my mind to do another version of this composition with completely different colors, but that won't happen anytime soon—too many other things on the list.

I got another lesson in color harmony doing this. The predominant colors are violet, blue, blue-green and yellow-green. So it's one of those analogous schemes with holes in it, but a very cool one. I wanted to add a warm color accent, and my first thought was yellow orange, the "resolving" complement of violet and blue. I painted that on the tree trunks but it was not the solution I was looking for. It added warmth and brought the tree forward, but it looked out of place with the rest of the painting. I didn't know where to go next with it so I played with the image in photoshop, and found that dark red was the accent color I was looking for. I painted the highlights as dark red and enriched the shadows on the trunks with dark, slightly neutralized blue. It had the same effect of warming and bringing up the tree silhouette, but it fits in much better with the overall color scheme. I think the dark blue shadows helped integrate the tree into the rest of the painting.

The sensation I was looking for, that "click" inside you that says that the colors are working together, is the same feeling I get when I hear a pleasant-sounding musical chord, where there's a richness and variety, but all the parts are working together. It might be a sparse chord with just 3 notes in it, or it might be one with 7 or 9 or more notes. The key is that together, no one stands out, but each one needs and fulfills the others, and the result is a pleasant, energizing sensation.


  1. I really enjoyed reading about your color choices and your explaination of why and how they affected the painting. Your color choices really make the painting have a feeling of the area we live in. KUDOS!

  2. Thanks, Jackie! Your comments are always appreciated.I look forward to seeing your next collage. - Patty