Whoever is in charge of naming new paint colors: Bravo!
I stopped by Lowe’s (the building supply mega-store) the other day (to pick up more birdseed) and on my way out I passed by the Paint Dept. I dropped my 35-poung bag of bird food and spent a very pleasant half hour picking through the new paint brochures.
I know macarons have been all the rage in Paris lately, but are they all that well known in the U. S. of A.?
I do love the art direction of paint brochures — the photos capture an entire mood and sense of place and socio-economic aspiration. I get lost in entertaining digressive thoughts when I contemplate the story of each paint brochure photo, but my happiest time is going through the paint chips on display:
Within this array of color there are hues with the names of Blanket, Off Broadway, Inhale (and an Exhale), Luxury Linen, Poetry in the Park, Modern History, Corner Pub, and Porcelain Pear. Sad to say, but the lovely-sounding Porcelain Pear is the color of thrown up lima beans. If you can correctly guess the hue of any of these other color names, I will be very impressed indeed. Because frankly, I’m not sure that the color-namers are even in the same room as the colors they are naming. But still, for these evocative mini-poems to be found in Lowe’s Paint Dept., I say Bravo!
However, today, the only color we are exploring in-depth is gray. Hand-made gray.
I make my own grays because I think the hand-made grays have more personality than store-boughten ones.
I start by mixing Umber and Cyan Blue. I’m using my cheap, powdery Grumbacher paints because I like the texture of them, and I love the way they interact with water. Until Carol Gillott of ParisBreakfasts told me to up-grade my tools two years ago, I only used Grumbacher. I know their properties very well, and still like them for certain applications — but I don’t use the greens and yellows much at all anymore. Windsor-Newton is better.
Now it’s time to make a bottle cap of gray (because I work small), using bottle caps from quart bottles of Gatorade . I start by making a puddle of brown paint:
Mix together and Voila! I’ve got a bottle cap of one-of-a-kind gray:
Now, you remember the problem from last week:
I have to get rid of those wonky railing shadows and, while I’m at it, I might as well re-do the cat so that it looks more like “cat” and less like “orange blob”.
So I cut out the offending bits…
…and started over. First, I re-drew the offending railing shadows, which ought to have looked like this in the first place:
Quick digestion shot of my railing sketch illuminated on the light box to show you the trial-and-error of my ways:
Whenever I draw a stinky line, I cut it out and tape in a new bit of tracing paper and draw it correctly — I hope you can see that my “sketch” is actually a collage of about seven scraps of stop-and-start-again tracing paper. I’m not smart enough to get it right in one swell foop, so I give myself a break and destroy the bad while keeping the good — all without guilt.
I used tracing paper for this sketch not because I was tracing it (I WISH) but because I will be painting this picture on the light box, so I need a light-weight paper to let the light shine through it so I can paint the pic without drawing pencil lines on the art work. I never paint on a lift box because I’m a girl who loves outlines, but as this is an illustration of shadows, and shadows, in nature, don’t have outlines, I have to paint “painterly”, for once.
Well, here’s the tricky part. I have to adjust my bottle cap of gray paint by adding more blue, or a different blue, or more water, or maybe a molecule of black, to get the matching hue that I need to pick up where I left off in this pic. It’s the matching that is a bitch.
I started out with this too-greenish gray:
It needed more blue. After a few tries, I got it. It might not look like it in this photo (below), but this gray tone was a very good match:
I forgot to tell you that, in order to make bottle cap of home-made gray, you have to keep loading your brush with slurries of brown and blue and white pigment, and then you have to squeeze out those loads, from the paint brush’s brushes, into the bottle cap. It’s rather messy:
Anyhoo, I began to paint the replacement part of this illustration and I was very pleased with its matching-ness until I got this far…
…and then I said to myself:”Oh shit. I forgot the cat.”
Well, I was losing the afternoon light anyway because it had started snowing again, so I packed up [put everything out of a nosey cat’s paw reach] and called it a day.
I began again the next morning. I forgot to take a photo of it, but overnight the bottle cap of gray had totally dried out, so I had a bottle cap of dry pigment ready to be water-activated. This is absolutely the BEST way to paint from a bottle cap! When you’re starting with a solid pigment it’s very easy to control the very small adjustments it takes to lighten or darken a color, IMHO.
But I had to put off playing with the bottle cap of gray because first, I had to draw a cat. I thought that a crouching cat might look good on this shady Key West porch, so I drew one and taped my new kitty over the tracing-paper sketch like so:
But I didn’t like the position of the cat, so I had to peel it of the sketch, like this:
YES, with a tweezer. And not just any tweezer — that’s my old diamond-grading tweezer, designed with a long needle nose for ease of picking up dropped diamonds from the floor. THAT’s THE KIND OF PAINTER I AM. If anybody else works this way, I would love to chat. Main topic of conversation: Are we mad genius self-taught users of scotch tape, or what?!?!?
So I re-positioned the cat to be more forward-leaning:
But now I didn’t like the cat at all, mostly because I did not like how the tip of the rocking chair’s arm did this:
So I drew a new new cat, one that wouldn’t go anywhere near the rocking chair’s space:
But then the new new cat did this:
No problem, not for me (world champion of Making Pictures Work No Matter How Long It Takes). I just cut away a few of those cat-overlapping floor boards, re-mixed a correct shade of gray, and began to paint the first layer of shadow:
Then I painted the correct railing shadows. Every time I needed a new brush full of paint, I had to re-mix the paint and turn off the light box to compare that the grays were still compatible — it’s hideously time-consuming. But finally I got this:
Cut to DONE:
Top Cat wishes my posts didn’t go this long, but I know that some of you, Dear Readers, don’t mind watching me save my professional watercoloring ass step by step.
Color me Got Away With It One More Time.