Some more turkey

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I started laying in the first washes. I’ve decided to go with opaque white on the feathers, so I am really just giving myself some directional guides with these shadow colors on the chest. I want this turkey’s fancy coat and collar to pop out, so some impasto wi be pretty cool for that. I probably won’t return to this one tonight, so I am posting my progress now. With a lot of time off coming up, I will be working on a few paintings simultaneously for a while.

Thanks for reading.

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Tough Turkey

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Earlier this fall I took this photo of a ridiculously proud turkey. I think it deserves a giant watercolor portrait. For now, I’ve started an 8×10 sketch to figure out my approach. Will I try to be delicate and transparent, or should I be more aggressive about it and layer on opaque white later? Not sure yet, but I am leaning towards the latter.

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Learning from Turner: The Scarlet Sunset

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I’ve been wanting to try a Turner copy for some time, and I’ve been interested in whether or not blue paper was something for me. As a guide I used the book the Tate put out “How to a paint Like Turner.” Interesting exercises. I didn’t follow along too closely other than for the color mixing tips. Anyway, here’s how I did it.

First I tinted a 5×7 sheet of Fabriano Artistico a cool blue (a mix of Prussian and French ultramarine. This worked out pretty well. I might do this again when I want to work on tinted paper of whatever color, though I can’t imagine that will be common.

Once it dried, I laid in the sky with the red and yellow, using a mix of quinacridone burnt orange and ultramarine for the brown clouds. The bridge was cobalt and ivory black, and the distant buildings were cobalt and cad red, though other colors got in there too. A bit rough, as I’ve never worked with these mixes before. In fact, I never use ivory black, and the other colors I rarely use and if I do it’s not for their mixing properties (except for quin burnt orange and ultramarine, the two of which make an incredible range of glowing browns). The barely distinguishable cart and people were a mix of things, burnt orange being the main one.

A few things I learned:

The trick of the dab of sun and then the calligraphic swipe for reflection is an effective (Monet used it too) but strange shorthand. Does a setting sun ever look like that? For a sketch I suppose it’s fine, but it doesn’t get at the diffusion of light that Turner did nicely with the rest of the work.

Ivory Black is useful. With Cobalt Blue it makes a nice deep blue. Cad Red and cobalt blue make a nice purple grey. I see how I could use all of these in a decent “old style” palette. I am rethinking my decision to use quin red just because the one I have (Maimeri Blue) seems pretty weak. I will put the cad back, especially now that I see how nicely it works with cobalt blue. Will Ivory Black creep in, perhaps as a replacement for Burnt Sienna?

Turner’s painting has a lot of atmosphere, no doubt in part because he knew what he was doing. I laid things on too thick, and couldn’t really lift them out. In other places I was too weak. For a first time with the blue paper, I got a lot out of it, though seeing them side by said after the fact reveals how off I was. Then again, this wasn’t about exactitude, just experimentation.

Colors used:
Isoindolinone Yellow
Cad Red Light
Cobalt Blue
Ivory Black
Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Ultramarine
Titanate Yellow (with a touch of titanium white)

Thanks for reading.

Rainy day tree study

IMG_3312.JPGWhile my wife and 6 year old are off at dress rehearsals for the Nutcracker, my younger daughter and I spent some time painting together. Not wanting to get into anything too involved, I did another 5×7 tree study out the back dining room window. It’s a grey, rainy day, so to add some interest, I punched up the color on the tree to the right with some pops of pure perylene maroon.

This was made up of:

Nickel Azo Yellow
Quinacridone Burnt Orange
Viridian
Perylene Maroon
French Ultramarine
Cerulean Blue (just in the sky a bit)
Prussian Blue

Come to think of it, those are the pigments I use most, though my favorite blue on its own is cobalt, which I’m adding back into my palette along with the W&N limited edition Titanate Yellow, which is a Turner like chrome yellow. I am still experimenting with what’s right for me, what’s right for the feel of a painting I can produce, what to apply to some big pieces, to something with a thesis or a question. Nothing better than sorting that out with my daughter doing Turner inspired color studies beside me.