This is the second half of my attempt at doing a painting mixing all the colors from just the three primaries, plus black and white. 'A couple of things I learned:
1.Sometimes mixing via glazing on the canvas yields better results than mixing on the palette.
2.This is something I already knew, but needed to be reminded of, and that's not all colors are equal in strength. Blue is much stronger than red or yellow and will over power these other colors when all three are used in equal amounts.
To find out how I came to these conclusions and what it was like for me to do this painting this way, watch the video below.
I'm challenging myself to make a painting using only Transparent Middle Yellow, Transparent Middle Red, Titanium White, Zinc White, Mars Black and Ivory Black. The rule I've set for myself is I can mix these paints in anyway I want, but I'm not allowed to open any other tubes while working on this project. The painting I'll be doing is of my friend, the restaurateur Oz Blackaller. The point is that I should be able to mix any color I need from just yellow, blue, and red, since those are the primary colors and use white to lighten and black to darken.
The reason I've chosen these particular shades of blue, yellow, and red is because they're transparent and will allow me to glaze, which is what I'm looking for. If you're doing this challenge and want to do an impressionistic or pop art style with your piece, you might want to choose opaque colors, such as cadmium red and yellow and phthalo blue.
I've started with a black and white underpainting made with Mars Black and Titanium White.
To mix the flesh color, I started with a mix of equal parts of my yellow, my red, and my blue. That would give me a neutral base and I could figure out where to go from there.
I glazed this color all over the face and neck as a base,
then I mixed up some orange from red and yellow
and mixed this into the flesh color, anf used this to paint his right temple, the side of his nose and his dimples.
After I started painting this, I thought it was too orangey for the face, but I decided I would wait until the entire painting was finished before I judged it, since the entire room was bathed in an orangish light.
Now I mixed some pink from red and transparent mixing white, mixed this into my flesh color and used this to paint his cheeks and above his eyebrows.
After looking at his face at this point, I decided it needed to be warmed up, so I took some of the orange I had mixed up earlier and mixed some blue into that to tone it down a bit, so it wasn't in your face,
and just glazed this all over the face, like I'd done with the initial base.
When I first put it on, I thought it looked really overwhelming and I was almost ready to go back my palette and mix up a lighter color, but when I started spreading the color out and blending it across the face, I could see it was just what it needed
I could see that the pink areas of his face also needed to be lighter, so I glazed some transparent mixing white, because that would lighten the area while still letting the viewer see the pink underneath, unlike titanium white, which would cover it completely, over those areas.
For the lips, I started by mixing up a grayish pink from the same pink I'd used for part of the face, some ivory black and a little more red to make up for having lost the pink due to having added to much black. I used this for a little bit of the mouth, but I ran out of paint too quickly and had to mix more.
I painted the rest of the mouth using a neutral pink made by mixing transparent middle red with transparent mixing white and hansa yellow light with ultramarine blue. I just added more red and green to this to darken some areas and then went over the right hand corner and the left hand side of the top lip with gray made by mixing transparent mixing white and ivory black.
For his eyes, I mixed brown from red, blue, and yellow. I decided I wanted it to be more of a burnt sienna, so I mixed some extra red into my brown. Lastly, I mixed some ivory black into this volor to darken it before glazing it all over his irises.
To paint the glint in his pupils, I first put a bit of transparent mixing white into the center of them using a small round brush. After that I took a liner brush and some titanium white and painted small white spots over what I had just painted. Finally, I glazed a bit of ivory black over the titanium white, with that same liner brush, for the fuzzy gray effect.
After all that, this is what the eyes looked like.
To paint his hair, I took some of the ivory black I already had out from painting his eyes and some transparent mixing white that I'd already had mixed up with some medium and made a transparent gray. Then I mixed some ultramarine blue into this mixture and painting the paler portions of his hair with this.
This is what it looked like at this point.
I realized it needed a warm brown over it, so I tried using the same brown I had mixed for his eyes, but mixing a bit of yellow into it and a bit more ivory black to darken it. For some reason, I also decided to add a bit ultramarine blue into the mix. After two layers, it wasn't showing up brown enough, so I mixed some of the orange I mixed up earlier into it and then I was like, this right. This is what I was looking for.
I used this color on his eyebrows and eyelashes.
To paint the brighter highlights of his hair, I started by mixing more red into my brown. But I thought that wasn't righf, so I decided it needed some orange, which I mixed up with my trusty Hansa Yellow Light and Transparent Middle Red. After I put this color on the canvas, though, it still didn't look right. I thought maybe it needed more yellow, so I tried that. Eventually, I ended up with something very red on the left hand side and something very yellow on the right hand side, so I glazed green and purple, respectively, over these areas to neutralize them.
After all this, this is what the hair looks like.
To paint his shirt, I used a pale grayish blue that I got by mixing transparent mixing white, ivory black, and ultramarine blue. Then I darkened this color for the shadows and blending the edges ot those with a mop brush.
That's it for the first part of this post. In part two, which will be up next week, I'll be walking you through how I paint the background.
Do you ever feel like once art becomes your job, or you start trying to make it your job, it stops being fun? That's what I'm going to be discussing in this post.
Everyone wants to have a job they love. The problem is, how can you have a job you love when, once something, no matter what it is, becomes your job, you don't love it anymore.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I want to stop painting or drawing. Nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfillment than finishing a piece. I just find it hard to enjoy the actual process.
How Can We Make Art Fun Again
I would really like to get in the habit of, while I'm working on a painting or drawing, of just being in that moment and really enjoying the process, saving the judgement and evaluations until after I'm done with that session.
I mentioned this before, but I think art has the power to lift our spirits. I've also talked about other ways I think we can enjoy art more, such as not judging ourselves and eliminating distractions. A lot of times I like to listen to something, music, an audiobook, a podcast, when I'm painting and drawing. However, I really encourage you to refrain from checking your phone when painting or drawing.
I remember as a child, I would sometimes make six or seven paintings in one day, one after another. I don't see myself doing that now because I spend more time on each individual piece, but the point was that I just painted for the joy of painting and I didn't worry about how each piece might come out.
Speaking of the joy of painting, one of my favorite things to do as a kid was episodes of Bob Ross and try to recreate whatever he was painting with my crayons.
Why Does Having Art As A Job Suck The Joy Out Of It?
When art is a hobby, you don't have to worry about whether something's good or not. Nothing's at stake. You're not losing potential money or clients.
At the same time, I don't think we should worry, while we're in the process of making something, whether or not it will make us money. Chances are that three out of every four pieces you make won't sell anyway. Paint what you're interested in. If we choose projects because we think they'll make us a buck, that will show in our work.
I don't think anyone has ever admired someone who's sole, or even main, motivation for doing what they do, is money.
I can feel shallow talking about wanting to make money off my art, but we all need money to survive and function in this world and there's nothing wrong with wanting to get it from something you're passionate about and would do anyway.
A problem that can come with having art as a job, is it becomes a "have to", instead of a "get to". Things you have to do are never as much fun as things you get to do. So maybe a key to enjoying art after it becomes your job, is to switch your mindset from, "I have to paint" to "I get to paint".
Other Artists' Thoughts
I asked other artists for their thoughts on this topic and here are some of them.
"I think the main thing is to make sure your doing at least some artwork purely for yourself.
For example, if you're working a 9-5 artistic job, creating commissioned pet portraits or teaching art
it can be all too easy to slip into ONLY creating art within the boundaries of that job description.
I think you need to set time aside to make the art that you WANT to make, even if it's only for an hour a week!!
Keep the love alive by feeding your own visions! not for your boss, not for a client, not for your audience. Take risks and keep playing!"
"I totally agree with Cass, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" comes to mind.
It is so important to set time aside for your own personal projects and experiments.
You don't want art to become a daily grind, it also needs to be a creative outlet.
If the only pieces you create are for business (commissions, pieces to sell etc)
you'll be limited on what personal pieces you make where you can really practice and experiment...
things that are vital for artistic growth and development."
"The mindset is very essential. If you think of art as work and something you have to get done
and that's the only way you think of it, it's very easy to forget about the reason you're doing it in the first place.
It's good to take your art seriously when it's your job, but constantly remind yourself of why you love it
and focus on enjoying the process instead of the pressure. Find the things that motivate you to create--
looking at other art and artists, going for walks, doing random sketches, whatever it might be.
And every once and a while create something for yourself without worrying what everyone else thinks.
Even in your business, don't feel pressured to create things just because everyone seems to want it.
You can do that to a degree, but know your limits and don't make it ruin art for you"
The Art Lark
"This topic has been heavy on my mind lately. I have a full time day job,
and I recently started diving very heavily into art and have been doing
it every single day instead of once in a while. I was very excited in the beginning -
right off the bat I started offering commissions for pet portraits.
I started promoting myself and have gotten quite a few people wanting paintings,
which is what I wanted, but now I'm not so sure. I discovered colored pencils recently
and have reaallly enjoyed them and want to master them, but I have all of these commissions
to do plus 40 hours per week at my day job. I haven't been spending as much of my free time
on the commissions as I should, I've been exploring colored pencils and I've started other paintings.
which has made me feel guilty. I dont like that. I dont like having those kinds of feelings associated
with something i am passionate about. I invested in acrylic pouring supplies in hopes of being able to
knock out paintings quickly... but I'm really not sure how to work myself up to full time artist,
although I think that is what I want? I'm almost considering not offering commissions anymore because
it just feels like I have two jobs now (I suppose I dread my day job infinitely more).
I guess I am confused about where to go with this, how to make art my life and not eventually start to hate it.
Seems like if it's not my full time job then I barely have the time for it."
My Final Thoughts
I can definitely relate to the thing about looking at other art and artists. I really like to watch biographical documentaries on on artists. That seems to always make me want to get to the easel and start painting.
I also think experimenting is extremely important. I even think you have to be willing to get worse if you really want to get better as an artist. If you only ever do what you know looks good, you'll never find out what could look great. There are things I've tried that I won't try again because they looked bad.
Also challenging myself, asking myself, can I do this, can I capture this, what happens if I do this, etc, is fun for me. That's what I did with my current piece. That's not easy angle, you know.
I would like to explore colored pencils and pastels more, but I'm not confident with these mediums. I know if I try a serious project with these, such as a portrait, I'm likely to not be happy with it, and that's scary.
Don't judge a piece too early, though. When it came to the piece I'm currently working on,
I didn't like the way it was coming out at first, but that was because it needed to have the darker shades added to it to make it come out. I think adding the black background, which I made with a compressed charcoal stick, by the way, really added oomph. What I'm saying is, I really like this piece now and it's all because I gave it time.
Ultimately, if art is your job, you'll have to do it regularly, whether you feel like it or not. You have to show up for work, just like any job and even if you're passionate about something, there will be times you just don't feel like doing it.
In conclusion, experiment, paint what you're interested in, and stay motivated by looking at other artists' work.
I finished my painting "Hummingbird At The Feeder". I'm also very close to finishing the drawing of this lady here and it makes me very comfortable that I still haven't come up with a title for this piece.
This Week's Video
This week, I tested three more of the Koh-I-Noor Progresso Woodless Graphite Pencils. I'd had one in a 9b for a while and I loved how it felt on the paper. I'd been meaning to get some more and I finally picked up a 2b, 6b and 8b from Artist and Craftsman and I was not disappointed, as you'll see in this video.
Right now, I'm working on a video about why art tends to stop being fun when it becomes your job and ways to get that joy back. It's going to feature a voice over while I'm working on the pieces featured in this post.
I've decided to challenge myself to do a painting mixing every color I'm going to be using from the primary colors, plus black and white.
I think I'm going to go down to releasing videos on youtube once a week, but the videos will be longer and more involved. I'm also going to be showing a lot more of me painting and drawing and less talking head stuff.
Like what you're reading? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and get all my articles from that week delivered straight to your inbox. You'll also get a 10% discount off any purchase or commission from me of $100.00 or more, excluding bulk purchases.
Painter of portraits and wildlife