Introduction to Oil # 1: Complementary Blue and Orange

monet ob

Monet often utilized orange and blue.

Our grid example demonstrates the mixing potential of cadmium orange and ultramarine blue (considered blue-violet)  similar to the above painting.


Later, try changing the blue for different mixed neutrals.

See plus cerulean blue.  Degas used a greener blue, like cerulean, plus orange, for this painting.

introgrid1 degas ogb

We keep it simple with one subject in a still-life set up. Bones often have warm orange and cool blue coloration.



We choose Cadmium orange and Ultramarine blue for our class exercise.  Mix the two to produce neutrals, then add white to progressively lighten them.


Lay in the background first. Mix in medium, neo-megilp, in this first fast layer.  Use cooled darks for background and warm tints and tones for foreground to create depth. Place darks first.intro4

Build up darks and mid-tones in warm and cool neutralized complements. Use big brushes at first for simple shapes. Enliven the  painting with bold, energetic gestural strokes.  Use more controlled strokes as you proceed.


Place lighter tints.  Highlights here are cool. Reflected light is warm.



Why “Fat over Lean”?

As you build up the surface, layering paint, mix less medium into the paint so it will sit on top of under-layers. Thicker paint will spread over thinned paint without mixing.

Use the brush shapes; flat and round, to describe the differing forms of the subject.


 You can use both grids in one painting. Here Monet uses both blue-violet and blue-green mixed with orange.

monet duo2


Intermediate Pastel Shorts: Rocks part 1


Need we say more?


Every rock looks unique. Science divides them into categories; igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. It will help your drawing to know something about the formation of the rock, just ask a  geologist friend or attend a lecture.

We begin at the beginning with blind contour (not looking at our paper). This enables a focused attention and develops eye/hand coordination. It relaxes, like stretching, and prepares the drawer for the drawing.

1. Look at edge of rock.


2. Not looking at your paper, follow the edge of rock with your eye, move your hand with your eye, aka: eye/hand coordination, like playing tennis…in super-slow motion.


3. Do it over and over. Pay attention to the edge!  rk3

4. Now, wipe it all out, change the position of the rock, and start over. Vine charcoal makes wiping out easy.


5. Around and around again and again, slow, slow, slow. Exhale, like yoga, relaaaxx, ahhh.


6. Wipe it out again.rk9

7. Re-position the rock once more. This time look at the rock and the paper. Draw inside contours as well.


8. Shade in areas of light and dark. Erase areas of light. Add texture with the eraser.

rk11 9. Now change the position of the rock and draw it again on the same paper.  This time consider composition and scale (make it bigger or smaller than previous rock)

r10Think about an imaginary landscape, fractals, geologic formations…

Grab a hue plus gray, black and white to form a monochromatic palette. Shade, scumble, smudge and hatch your way into a new scape, made with just one rock and many points of view.



Try a rock-a-day!

Reconnaissance: Happy Valley, Rincon Wilderness

  HV quick pic1

We meet at the Quick Pic at I-10 exit # 297 Mescal Road, then cruise north into the valley for a few miles.

The Valley in the morning shows off dramatic rock formations, budding Oak, Sycamore and Ash.

HV rocks4

HV ariel 5

HV Spring2

The scene changes dramatically as the sun lowers behind Rincon Peak in the afternoon.




There is still space left for this Excursion. Sign up by this Wednesday:  tel. 620-0947.

See you there!

Introduction to Pastel #3: Markmaking: Blended Color


In this exercise we are practicing blending techniques. Begin with a still life which has a variety of soft surface texture.  Choose a surface to work on.  I’m using a sanded “Wallis” paper pre-toned a “belgian mist” or warm gray.  My palette is a split complement: Yellow, Blue and Violet.


Some tools for blending. If you choose a sanded paper you won’t be using fingers or q-tips to blend.


Sketch in shapes and placement.


Increase your pastel selection to include softer sticks as well as hard. Try a “pan” pastel. Pan pastels have very little binder which allows for even greater purity and saturation of pigment.


Lay in color. No need to fix on sanded paper or paper with lots of “tooth” (tientes). Build up the surface.


Blend.  It’s okay to make a little “mud”.


Lay in more, blend more. In this I used tortillion, paint brush and make-up applicator to blend.  The effect is loose, soft and impressionistic.


Painting Supplement #8: Sanguine


Sanguine-tinged still life.


Composed and measured line drawing. I use a view-finder to zoom in.


I pick a tube color called Terra Rosa. It has warm and cool properties; it cools dramatically when mixed with white/gray/black.  Here we see the usual tints, tones and shades top row. Bottom row I mix a little more white with each.

cp2sang1 Blocking in the shades and background first.


I’ll leave it here. I utilize a rubber brush for a sgraffito (scratching in) technique to recover highlights and texture.

Introduction to Pastel #2: Markmaking: Broken Color


I’ve chosen objects with texture so the marks to make are obvious.  Looking at the scene I decide on orange as my dominant color. The split complement of orange is blue-violet and blue-green, good for reflections and shadows.

intp2Pure orange, tint of orange, shade of orange, blue-violet and tint of blue-violet, and a tint, tone and shade of blue-green plus light, med and dark gray. I may not end up using all if these variations but most hues will be mixed on the pastel surface.


Tone your paper a hue from your palette. I’m using orange plus gray to dull the orange. You can use factory tinted paper also.


Take a good look at the still life. Very lightly map in a few proportional measurements-to stay on track though the drawing.


In this exercise we use only the pastel stick to make marks; blend, drag, scumble, shade, stipple, hatch. We are not smearing, smudging or blending with fingers, rags or brushes.

Our examples include the drawings, sketches and prints of Da Vinci, Manet and Degas:


intp17Da Vinci






intp8Work up the drawing with bits of each color as they become apparent. Pay attention to reflected light and shadow.


Don’t forget to fix.  This will darken the work a little so spray more at the beginning of your work, less as you near completion.  Make changes to the composition as necessary throughout the process.


intp12Tap on the image for a close up look at Degas’ varied mark making.

Drawing With Color Part 2: #8 Earth Tones: Sanguine and Sepia


The earth tone palette can be warm or cool.  This is warm. We are staying with muted/mixed hues for a classical effect: Sanguine (Latin meaning blood) includes burnt sienna and burnt umber which are considered shades of red-orange and orange. I use just a little of the pure hue for accent. Include gray and black if necessary.

Now, an example of a cool earth toned palette. We take our cues from the pure pigments yellow and green. Shades of yellow and green include raw umber, raw sienna and tones of yellow-green and olive-green.


Choose objects which inspire the warm or cool palette. Warm subjects in a simple still-life composition for a sanguine study.


Cooler for the sepia study.


Choose a cool gray paper for the cool study (warmer for sanguine ). Map in shapes, then lights and darks.