|TURNING ON THE "LIGHTS" WITH OILS
Written by Bob Thackeray
Whenever I start painting I always put out a good supply of Burnt Umber
and Phthalo Blue on my palette. I then mix the 2 together to
get a dark color (not a black color). Often I will mix 2 darks,
1 towards the blue side and the other towards the brown side.
To see what color you have made add a little white to a small
amount of the darks and you will see an "optical gray", 1 to
the blue and 1 to the brown side. A little yellow to the dark
and you will see another combination of these optical grays.
As I start to paint I work with these darks and block in the
dark masses that I see making sure to keep them thin but dark.
As the painting process continues I find the darks that I have
made very useful to tone down or dull any color that I am trying
to make. Painting this way keeps the painting on the dark side.
You must resist the temptation to brighten the painting until
the final stages then the fun begins of "turning on the lights"
as you add the highlights and detail that make the painting
|In the picture of Blarney Castle I used the mixed dark to under paint
the shadow side of the castle as well as the trees and bushes
in the shadows. The light side of the castle as well as the
lighter foreground was under painted a dark mixed to the brown
side and lightened slightly with a touch of white. The dark
side of the castle was then scumbled over with a dark mixed
to the blue side and lightened with a little white. The same
technique was used for the light side with more white added.
The greens were all darkened with the mixed dark and/or brown
to tone them down. The final step was to highlight the castle
with a light brown and the bushes, tree and grass with pure
cadmium yellow to give the effect of the morning light hitting
their edges. The sky was painted with French Ultramarine at
the top and Phthalo Blue and white at the bottom and the two
blended together as they meet. When mixing the dark, the Phthalo
Blue is much stronger than the Burnt Umber so I usually start
with a mix of 1 part blue to 3 parts brown and then adjust from
second painting "Ross Castle" the same technique was used for
the castle, trees, grass and rocks. The background hills were
painted with the dark mixed to the brown side and lightened
with a lot of white to create a soft gray. 2 tones of this color
are painted into the hills to give the illusion of distant shadows
created by the undulations in the landscape.
I prefer to use this combination of blue and brown for a dark
that can be adjusted with other colors to create optical grays
that are alive colors compared to using black which only creates
dull and dead colors.
Bob Thackeray is a member of the Ajax, Oshawa and Pine Ridge
Art Associations. He has work displayed in private collections
in Canada, the U.S. and Ireland.