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Above is the overpainting in-progress of a new work entitled Yellow MMZ. So far, I’ve spent 35 hours on this new work. I have been wanting to paint a yellow tractor for a while now as so many tractors are either red or green. My base mid-tone color is a warmish dark-yellow mixture of Cadmium Yellow Deep, Viridian and touch of Quinacridone Magenta and a bit of Warm Grey. I add some magic medium (Old Masters Flemish Maroger) and brush over a section of the underpainting. I usually chose a section that can stand alone, a front grill assembly or example, something (or things) that I can complete with direct painting within a 4-hour block of time. Then I will take a break and if I have no graphic design, photo-restoration work or errands to run, I will paint some more but I must be done and allow for clean up before my daughter arrives home from school around 2:15pm or so.
From the aforementioned large pile I pull out a bunch of smaller puddles and modulate the values and hues with Cad Yellow Medium or Chinese Orange. After the mid-tone sets up for a few minutes, I just start right in painting into the tacky-wet mixture. I usually add darks first by adding more Viridian, Chinese Orange and Quin Magenta to a pulled out puddle then the lights, by making a fresh starter pile with Cad Yellow Medium and white for the light values.
My underpainting provides the road map for value mixtures and I check my reference photo constantly, which is clamped right up next to and to the left of the painting, for hue and temperature. Speaking of reference photos, I often hear in the popular art magazines that photographs are “notoriously unreliable” for color fidelity. That’s really not true at all, just means that those folks are uninformed as how to properly process and manipulate their digital images. Digital photography and Adobe Photoshop are truly awesome tools. Knowing how to use them correctly will bring about a fundamental change in any preconceived notions you might have about using digital tools as part of the conceptual process and as compositional aids. For sure, there is a lot to be gained for the experience of painting outdoors. But for me, except for an occasional study or to challenge myself and break up the routine, I just can’t see any reason whatsoever to wander outside and chase sunlight and shadows to create a painting. Not to mention the harmful effects of overexposure to the sun. Personally, I think that the value of plein air painting is grossly overstated, approaching cult-like status with overzealous and dominating reportage in all of the national art publications. And almost always featuring the same artists.
Even more important is the fact that VERY FEW artists using this technology do not utilize professional graphic arts monitors and color calibration hardware and software to produce accurate color. Thus, not only is what is seen on their displays inaccurate, the color output from their inkjet printers most likely never matches what is seen on their screen display. If your going to paint from photographs, then in-depth knowledge and implementation of color management is vitally important. I can’t stress this enough. Unfortunately it would take a book (many books, actually) to explain it all and there a great many of them out there to choose from.
But, I digress. By the time I am done with my painting session my palette is covered with lots of little puddles in many values, hues, some warmer, some cooler. So I just grab from here and there mixing even more puddles as necessary, often wiping my brush off with a rag and occasionally dipping it into one of my two OMS jars to clean it off and start right in again. Before you know it 4 hours or so have gone by and its time to clean up.
Until the next installment.