Monday, May 29, 2017

Tip Tuesday - Rolling in Mud

"Trucking" Oil on 6.5" x 9" Arches Oil Paper.

The Last Tip Tuesday's post was about how to avoid muddying a paint mixture. Today I'll cover how to muddy a paint mixture and why you would want to do that.

Attention grabbing, look-at-me color certainly has it's place in a painting but, when every hue demands equal attention, it can feel like you're staring into the sun and must look away quickly to avoid having an after image of the painting imprinted on the inside of your eyelids.

If you're a color junkie, and I speak from experience here, then I highly suggest you explore what muddy color can do to enhance your painting.

In a previous post I covered why you shouldn't use black to darken your paint mixtures and that same lesson applies when muddying a color. Black will certainly tone down that bold overly-brilliant hue but, you run the risk of all your grayed down mixtures appearing to have the same color cast which, in turn, will flatten out any illusion of depth you've worked so hard to create.

Instead, try mixing a complimentary color into the paint mixture you're trying to gray down. For example, if you've got a brilliant green tone it down with a touch of red, for purple add yellow and for orange add blue and vice versa. You will end up with a less vibrant and saturated hue that still maintains some color integrity.

Which reds, yellows, blues etc. should you use? That all depends on your palette, your subject and what you're trying to achieve. I'll cover pieces of this in future posts because honestly, this topic could easily be a whole class on color theory.

Now that you know how to do it, why on earth would you want to gray down all that scrumptious color? Mud, or gray, when used correctly, can make more pure hues in your painting appear very colorful and vibrant. Additionally, when used strategically and in the correct value, mud can enhance your focal point when used in the periphery.

Color gets all the glory, but, value does all the work in a painting. Embrace the mud my friends and paint on!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Tip Tuesday - Slinging Mud

"Colorful Vineyard" Oil on 8" x 8" panel. Sold.

The last 3 Tip Tuesday's have been about mixing paint and in keeping with that same theme today I'll talk about muddy color.

Everyone's experienced this - it's a beautiful day, life is good because you're painting after all, what could possibly go wrong? You've got a solid composition, a lovely subject and your first few paint colors are really working. Then it happens, there is that one tricky color. You know, that elusive one that you just can't seem to nail down? You started off pretty good, two colors got you in the ballpark so you added a third and you suspect that's where you might have made a wrong turn. You think, maybe if you added a fourth color you could save that precious pile of paint and actually apply it to your canvas?

Bam! Mud. Gray, nondescript, boring old mud. You can't use it anywhere! And what's worse, you now have a big pile of it. At this point, I see a lot of students try one more time to save the pile by adding yet another color.

Let it go. Move on. Like a toxic relationship, dump it because if you press on and use the mud it will pollute the whole painting.

Now, I'm not saying there aren't any uses for mud, there are a million and plenty of painters use it to their advantage. If you're wrestling with mud however (now there's a funny mental image), try to keep your paint mixtures simple. Stick to using 2-3 colors only (plus white when necessary). Any more colors than that and you run the risk of muddying the mixture.

Now that I've covered how to avoid mud, in the next post I'll talk about how to effectively muddy a color and why you would want to do that.