Friday, September 2, 2011
I bought some mars violet powdered pigment and wanted to try it out. There are many colors with the word "mars" in the name, all in the reddish region of the spectrum. There is mars yellow and mars violet, though they both have a brownish/reddish cast to them, but there is no mars green or blue. Mars implies that the pigment is an iron oxide, basically a type of rust. The color of the rust depends on the size of the rust particles. The Roman god Mars was the god of war and was associated with iron. The planet Mars is reddish in color because of all the iron oxides in the soil. The word mars in the color name also indicates that the pigment has been synthesized industrially, not found in its natural state. Iron oxide pigments that are found as is in the ground are called hematites, goethites, and magnetites, depending on the particular chemical structure of the iron oxide.
There is no difference chemically between the synthesized and the naturally occurring pigments. However, the physical structure of the pigment particles may differ enough that their handling and visual properties in paint are a bit different. Also, naturally occurring pigments have bits of other minerals mixed in that are not completely separated out by those who gather pigments. These other minerals also affect the color and handling properties of the paint. Ochre, sienna, and umber also are names for naturally occurring iron oxide-containing pigments. However, these contain the iron oxide (goethite, etc.) in a clay form with various other minerals like silica and manganese oxide.
In this painting, I used mars violet in the dark areas. The bits of iron move about in a wash the way iron filings do in the presence of a magnet, just like my bloodstone watercolor does (which is a natural hematite pigment). I used only two other colors - quinacridone gold and ultramarine blue. I painted it on Langton Prestige cold press, 6.5"x8.5", completed in August, 2011.
This watercolor rose is only 7"x10". I finished it more quickly than the others, but still it took me a couple days (off and on). I started buying more powdered pigments. With these I can make both watercolor paint and tempera paint. The leaves here were painted with my homemade viridian watercolor. Viridian is a pigment similar in hue to phthalo green, but it is non-staining and granular and, I think, richer looking. Other colors in the leaves are ultramarine blue, manganese violet, and azo orange. The paper used is Langton Prestige cold press. It was completed in August, 2011.
I decided to learn how to paint in egg tempera. Egg tempera is the medium that was used throughout the Middle Ages until oil painting was developed. Typically, an artist takes dry powdered pigments, mixes them with water into a paste, then adds egg yolk little by little until the proper consistency is obtained. Since I already had watercolor tube paints, I was able to use those instead of dry pigments. I did need powdered titanium white, because I didn't have any white watercolor.
Egg tempera paint has a translucent quality. You can paint an area in a solid color, then glaze many layers of different shades over it to get bits of many colors shimmering through together. White paint glazed over color gives a milky or foggy look. The paint dries very, very quickly, so you have to keep misting water over your palette, and it works best to paint in short, quick strokes. It is difficult to create entirely smooth gradations of color. But it's easy to paint sharp tiny details. The surface of the paint has a slightly shiny quality from the dried egg yolk. The painting smells slightly eggy for several days, but it dries hard over several months to a tough, permanent surface.
This painting of a rose was painted on 8"x8" Ampersand Claybord. I finished it July, 2011.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I could not resist the allure of Daniel Smith's Primatek line of natural mineral watercolors. I used a great deal of Bloodstone Genuine on this, both for the very dark background as well as in the petals of this pincushion flower, mixed with cobalt blue. Bloodstone Genuine is reddish-black and gritty and granulates in washes like iron filings do around a magnet, with tiny "rays" of pigment shooting in different directions.
Serpentine Genuine peeks in just a bit in the leaves, mixed with green-gold. It is a lovely earthy green color with tiny flecks of red that float around in the washes. Also, Daniel Smith's Quinacridone Gold shows its range of deep russet gold to pale yellow in the pollen grains. This painting looks almost like a rising full moon when viewed in a darkened room. Once again, it's painted on Fabriano Artistico 11"x14" hot press paper. It was completed in March, 2011.
This lady slipper orchid may look a bit menacing, but at least it's smiling! I got a bit loose and abstract with the background, while keeping the flower sharp. I used the "lifting" qualities of some colors like cerulean blue and manganese violet to move gritty pigments around on the paper. This is another one on Fabriano Artistico, 14"x11" hot press paper. It was completed around January, 2011.
This watercolor took many glazes of dark greens and blues to get the background dark enough. I didn't want to paint too dark too fast because I wanted to preserve subtle hints of leaf shapes even in the dimness of the darkest shadows. I didn't mask the flowers, so I had to paint around them freehand with each glaze. I think it helped keep a more realistic, dimensional look to the flower edges. Once again, Fabriano Artistico, 11"x14" hot press paper. I completed it around October, 2010.
This painting has been sold.
Large, smooth rose petals required a shift in technique. I glazed each petal many times, each time wetting a sizable area and smoothing in a wash of soft color. There are small hints of green, yellow and turquoise in this pale pink rose. This was also painted on Fabriano Artistico 14"x11" hot press paper. It was completed around September, 2010.
This painting resides in a private collection.
My second watercolor, completed in July, 2010. It is painted on Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper, 14"x11". I painted more boldly on this one, and explored a new color, green-gold, which adds a nice golden shine to the sunny side of foliage. The edges of the flowers benefit from the granulating texture of ultramarine blue floated in with plenty of water.
This is my first watercolor painting, White Hollyhocks, completed around June, 2010. It was painted on Strathmore cold press watercolor paper, 11.5" x 9". I painted it from a photograph from the website WetCanvas.com, a community of artists where photographs are shared by members to use as artistic reference.
I spent a lot of time on this painting learning about the properties of different colors, like the deep intensity and staining qualities of phthalo blue, the subtle opaque granulating qualities of cerulean blue, and the warm but chalky qualities of manganese violet. I really should take a better photograph of this one, because in real life the shadows are deeper and the greens are significantly warmer.