Every time I teach this beginner acrylic painting course, I remember that there are a lot of people who want to paint landscapes. Realistic greens can be a challenge to figure out for new painters. This lesson is about a simple combination of colours that create a perfect green that is a great place to start working from.
The chart is the same one we used in Lessons 4 and 5 to create a Colour Chart.
The colours we will be using for this lesson is Cadmium Yellow Light and Bone (Ivory) Black. Black is a low chroma Blue. If you put yellow and blue together, what do you get? Green. Because Black is a low chroma Blue using Black to bring down the chroma/value of a paint doesn’t always work out so well as it will change the hue at the same time.
We will also be using the Neutral Grey paint mixtures that we created in Lesson 8. VIDEO & BLOG Post!
I would recommend caution when using photos to match your greens too. I have found that the greens can be too chromatic (very garish) and often too blue If you have a simple photo editing program on your computer you can lower the saturation on the image which will result in a much better image to work from.
Cadmium Yellow Light starts at Value 9 straight out of the tube. We will only be going to Value 2 because there are only 8 spaces across the full chart.
There are so many beautiful colours in this chart. I can see early spring green when the leaves are just unfurling after a very long cold winter. I can’t wait! Soon!
Then as the spring turns to summer, the leaves turn to darker greens.
Now I don’t live where Silver Birches grow but I do remember them from my childhood. If you know what the backside of the Silver Birch leaves look like…can you see that colour in this chart?
Can you see the colour that would be the sun shining through the leaves?
I would recommend making full tubes of the value paint mixtures from Value 8 to 2. It will give you a great starting place and save a lot of mixing time. Then you can drop the chroma by adding in the matching value of Neutral Grey paint.
Here is the series of paintings that I did with this green mixtures.
This video is in 3 parts.
Part 1 We look at a rectangular object with 90 degree angles and very distinct planes and the descriptive language we will use
Part 2 We explore how a change of value on the ground impacts the light reflecting back into the object. We will be using two rectangles with different Local Values.
Part 3 is Drawing and painting the rectangle from the image you can download image HERE
PART ONE - Light on rectangle object.
In this part we are going to learn the terms that we use to describe various planes of the object and how the light interacts or doesn’t interact.
Notice we have an object with 4 distinct planes. Only three planes are visible. We see the Front Plane, the Right-Side Plane and the Top Plane.
If we were outside, the Direct Light would be from the Sun, the Indirect Light would be the light bouncing back from the sky.
Now on to the Right-Side plane which is the Shade area of the object and we have Reflected Light in the right-side plane as the light bounces from the ground back up into the Shade side
Next the object is in the way of the light source creating a Cast Shadow. The Cast Shadow can be changed with the direction of the light changing. Longer Cast Shadow if the light is very low, and a much shorter one if the light is much higher or directly overhead.
You may well notice that the Shade side is darker at the top and lighter as it goes down into the reflected light area.
I took the opportunity to place a black object directly into the cast shadow. I did that so that you will understand that Cast Shadows are rarely fully black. As a new painter I would make my cast shadows far darker than they were.
Also, if you use a photograph (as we shall be doing), you will find that the camera makes the shadows much darker than our eyes would see. It is a direct result of the cameras inability to handle both aspects light and shadow correctly at the same time. If you are ever in doubt about the value of the Cast Shadow place something black into the area before you photograph it, using your handy dandy Munsell Accurate Value Scale for Artists to get a correct reading of the Cast Shadow. Remember to write down the value some place so you remember it later.
The darkest part of the whole painting is in the core shadow that connects the object to the table on the Shade side. This small area is important to paint because it anchors the object to the ground it is on.
PART TWO - Changing of ground and how it impacts reflected light distribution
In this part we are going to look at how the reflected light area of the Shade side changes as the values that the object is standing on are changed. The Local Value of the object is Value 8. I will change the ground value from Value 10 (white), to Value 7, to Value 5, then to Value 0 (black).
Local Value of the object is Value 8. We are focusing our attention on the reflected light area in As we go through you will notice that the reflected light has become less and less bright until it totally disappears when the ground is Value 0.
Let’s do this same exercise but now the rectangle object will have Local Value of 5. When I was doing this demonstration, I could see just a touch of Reflected Light happening on the Value 5 ground. Sadly, the camera is not that sensitive, and you are unable to see that.
As we move to Value 7 you can see the reflected light really starting to appear on the Shade plane, with the Value 0 ground creating the brightest Reflected Light.
PART THREE - Painting the Rectangle object.
Using Raw Umber I begin to draw the rectangle. I spend a lot of time backing up away from the easel to look at both the image and the board from a distance. Then I step forward to put a reference point where I think the corner is. I step away again to confirm that it is correct, then move forward to make changes if I need to.
When we go to put the reference point on the top plane it is far too easy to have it tipped up and looking wrong. In our mind we know that the Top Plane is a square shape but in reality we are dealing with perspective. Move forward place a reference point, then step back to confirm that it is in the correct place. It may need to move a little to the right or left or a little down or up. Take your time on this part of the drawing. It is key to having your rectangle look correct
The top is so important. Take your time to get those angles as correct as possible. Then we are on to the Cast Shadow. See that I have put reference points on the side of the board then I draw from those points to the object.
ROTATE THE BOARD AS YOU NEED TO WHEN YOU PAINT. It makes it so much easier to get the edges straight. :)
Now to choose the value of the background. I see that it could be an 8.5 but for simplicity I chose Value 8.
On to the Front Plane that is in Direct Light. It is definitely a Value 9!
Now we are figuring out the Top Plane value which I saw as Value 6. Photos do darken the values.
On to the Left Side Plane which is in Shade. I chose a Value 4 for that side.
Place the Cast Shadow in. Value 3 is what I chose. I did a second layer over the whole painting which gets us to the image below on the right side.
The final parts of the painting:
Reflected Light painting into the Left Side Plane
Core Shadow under the Left Side Plane to anchor the object to the ground
A very thin light under the Front Plane again to give it the illusion that the object is one the ground.
Ta Da...The final painting!
A reminder... YOU CAN ROTATE YOUR PAINTING AS YOU NEED TO. My lines are not straight because I was doing a video and I couldn't rotate the image.
Welcome to Lesson 9 ¾. Make sure that you have your ticket ready as we begin the magical journey of how to prepare your panels. (Sorry I could not resist) You can use either Masonite or Birch cradled panels for this lesson.
The first thing to use is a product that Golden makes called GAC 100 or 200. GAC 100 is a universal sealant that is flexible which means it can be used on canvas as well. If using a rigid board, then GAC 200 would be perfectly admissible. The difference between the two GACs is flexibility (100) and rigidness (200). According to Golden GAC 200 will crack if used on a flexible surface. This is a good thing to know.
Why use GAC? GAC protects against Support Induced Discolouration happening as the painting ages. Common painting supports such as canvas, linen, masonite, MDF and birch boards contain water extractable materials that can cause discolouration.
Seal the front, back and edges of the board with two coats of GAC before we move on to finalizing with Gesso.
There are boards that can be purchased that are already primed on the front. These boards will still need to be sealed on the sides and back. Moisture penetrating into the back of boards can cause damage as time goes forward.
Now let’s create a sampler of different Gessoes by Liquitex and Golden. I am certain that other companies create Gesso but these are the two brands that are readily available in my studio.
Using a 15x15cm (6x6in) board draw a grid to make 9 squares on it. Each of these squares will be a different Gesso. It is surprising how many kinds of Gesso are on the market.
I used the following brands and types of Gesso:
1.Liquitex Gesso (Regular and Flexible)
2.Golden Gesso (Regular and Flexible)
3.Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso (Holds it shape is Flexible)
4.Golden Sandable Hard Gesso (Inflexible)
5.Liquitex Clear Gesso (Dries translucent and is Flexible)
6.Golden Clear Gesso (Dries translucent and is Flexible)
7.Golden Black Gesso (Flexible – can be thinned ulp to 25% with water)
8.Gesso Sandable Hard Gesso mixed with Raw Umber Paint
9.Clear Gesso mixed with transparent Quinacridone Magenta
Why would Clear Gesso be used? If you have drawn on your painting surface and want to keep the paint from picking up graphite or charcoal, Clear Gesso will secure the drawing in place.
If you are a texture person, then using the Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso might be the perfect way to add subtle textures to the painting. There are several other products that allow one to really create big textures for painting on top of.
When the sampler is done, feel each one of the different Gessoes. This will help you to understand which one that will become your favourite go-to Gesso.
There are a few ways to put Gesso on a board. I choose to use a roller but, you are certainly able to use a brush. If using a brush, choose a larger one that can be obtained from the hardware store which will certainly make doing larger boards easier.
Above are the tools I use for painting Gesso on the boards.
Handle of Paint brush, Foam Rollers, Sanding block & Tack cloth to clean up the dust from sanding.
Starting with the edges, roll the gesso all around 4 sides, then elevate the board on wooden blocks and do the front (back) side. After 16 hours, lightly sand, use tack cloth to remove excess dust, add a new later of gesso and let dry again for 16 hours. I repeat that three times, then on to the other side of the board. Let the boards dry for a few days before working with them. I do a lot a the same time to maximize efficiencies.
I got to do something on Friday afternoon that I haven’t done in two full years, though the last time I did it this way was in the winter of 2016. What did I do, you ask!?!
I started to teach my Drawing 1 class in Ms. Townsend’s grade 7 class at Range Lake North School. The last time I was in RLN I was teaching drawing and painting to a grade 8 class. I completely forgot how FUN teaching art is. The giggles when I did the blind contour drawing of scissors was great. It is lovely to take the pressure off because they saw how mine turned out.
I teach in a very systematic, step by step approach. Each step of the way comes with a handout that becomes a future reference for the students. With each lesson I am developing skills that build one on top of another, which then allows to student to with greater confidence in their ability to draw.
With the advent of computers young people don’t spend much time with a pencil/pen in their hand. This generally means that though they do print, they don’t do it often enough to not hold the pencil too tightly. This leads to two problems: 1. Their hand gets tired really quickly, and 2. They draw like they are carving marble. As a result, I spent a fair amount of time during the first few classes walking around helping them to draw lighter which in turns has them holding their pencil lighter.
The one thing that dawned on me the evening before I went in, is that the masking mandate has been removed. Like so many, I have been in isolation and haven’t really done large group get togethers. I am happy to report that everyone in the class wore their mask…including me.
I am totally excited to do session two in 2 weeks and start their after school program then as well. So much fun!
In this lesson we are exploring the idea of Chroma with the focus of the third aspect of colour. The three elements of colour are: Hue, Value & Chroma. Head over to this Video ( Click HERE) for a visual representation of these 3 elements.
This is the first of several videos that we will be using the Neutral Grey Value paint mixes that we created in Lesson 8 (Click here) to change the Chroma of the Yellow Hue of Cadmium Yellow Medium (CYM).
Draw a Chroma chart out. Image is below and if you head over to the class handouts you will be able to download a proper sized pdf with the measurements on it.
First, we need to create a Value string of the CYM. Straight out of the tube Cadmium Yellow Medium paint starts off at Value 8. The value mixes will be from Value 9 to Value 1. To get to Value 9, add Titanium White. To create Values 7 to 2 use a 50/50 mix of Raw Umber (low chroma Yellow) and Burnt Umber (low Chroma Orange).
Why do we use this mixture? Cadmium Yellow Medium lands halfway between Yellow and Orange. If we brought down the value with either Raw Umber or Burnt Umber it would change the Hue as well as the value. But the 50/50 combo of those two paints will only adjust the Value not the Hue.
The 50/50 mix of Raw Umber and Burnt Umber is Value 2. To get to Value 1 add the Black you are using. In my case, that is Bone Black by Golden.
Across the top we have the Value mixes of the CYM. Now across the bottom add the corresponding Neutral Value paints.
The goal of this chart is to change the Chroma. We do this by adding the same value of Neutral Grey paint into the identical value of the Cadmium Yellow Medium.
The Neutral Grey value string is a Chroma 0. Cadmium Yellow Medium straight out of the tube, on the other hand, is a Value 8 / Chroma 16 on the chart. The very high Chroma rating is why Yellow tends to be a difficult colour to use. For this reason, I thought it was a great place to learn how to manage working with highly chromatic colours.
As the value of CYM drops, so does the Chroma naturally. Each value seems to be 1 Chroma drop. This means that Value 7 is Chroma 14, Value 6 is Chroma 12, Value 5 is Chroma 10, ect.
If you are really wanted to go down the rabbit hole with Munsell with the focus on Chroma. Head on over to Nielson Carlin and follow his videos on Chroma Charts.
We are about to dive deep into one of the most valuable paint mixes in our arsenal. This value string will become a huge tool as we go along. In fact, we will be using the Neutral Grey Scale in the upcoming Lessons 9 to 13.
Before we start, I want to share with you an apparatus that will help you to ensure that your Neutral Grey Scale is correct in both value and whether there is enough of the Raw Umber mixed into the Bone Black.
It is called a Munsell-Accurate Value/Grey Scale for Artists. A fellow named Paul Centore created it and sells it through eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/223003792036
What are the properties that make this tool something I would recommend for any artist to get? Well, let me tell you. It has a ½ step value range from Neutral (N) 9.0 to N1.0. It is plasticized so that you can put your paint right on it to compare the value to and it wipes off easily. There are holes in each of the value steps. This allows you to place it over an object and find the right value (as long as you squint) of what you are looking at.
Before we start mixing paint, draw the 3 grids for the value scales on the inexpensive watercolour paper that you have bought from the craft area in a local store. This will become the chart you can place in your binder.
With the palette paper placed in landscape, we will start with making a value string with Titanium White and Bone Black from Value 9 to 1 at the top of the page. The paint comes out at Value 0.5 directly out of the tube. This string is a low chroma blue. If you added it to another colour without neutralizing it, you would also change the colour rather than changing the chroma only.
The second value string will be placed at the bottom of the palette paper using Titanium White and Raw Umber. Again, we will do it from Value 9 to 1. Raw Umber has a value of 2 right out of the tube which means to get to Value 1 we need to add a small amount of Bone Black to complete our string.
Surprisingly we have made our colour mixing life much easier by doing these value strings as we come to the next step of putting both paint combinations together. Take a bit of the Bone Black V9 and place it in between the two strings on the palette paper. Add a small amount of the corresponding Raw Umber V9 and mix. Test against the Munsell-Accurate Value Scale until it matches the value and the colour of the N9.0 square.
Proceed with the rest of the values doing the same testing until the Neutral Value string is mixed.
Now we need to make larger amounts to fill these small containers, that way you don’t have to spend extra time each of the next 5 lessons mixing the Neutral Grey Scale again and again. I would recommend that you start with Value 9 make a big puddle of each and then bring them together and place them in the container. This means that if the container is filled and there is more paint mixed already, you can add more of the Bone Black and Raw Umber into their corresponding piles and bring the value down to Value 8 and so on and so forth until you have done the whole scale.
Each pigment that we use has a range of attributes that have an impact while mixing the paints together. We use language to explain one of the key properties when we use the term ‘bias’ of the paint. We say that the paint is either ‘cool’ or ‘warm’. This way of expressing does help us to visualize this particular trait of the pigment.
We will use one new paint colours in this lesson. The first modification is that I have exchanged the low chroma Yellow Ochre for the much higher chroma Cadmium Yellow Medium. The higher chroma Yellow will be helpful in this lesson.
When I say that a “red is cool”, that means that the pigment has a blue bias to the colour. An example is Alizarin Crimson and Quinacridone Crimson, both reds have a very definite blue bias. We would categorise these paints as being a Red Purple. Both these pigments are moving away from Red towards Purple on the colour spectrum. But a warm Red is leaning more towards Yellow which means we see more Orange in the Red as we do in Cadmium Red Medium.
How would this cool/warm factor impact mixing between the primary colours trying to create the perfect orange or purple or green? This is what we shall explore in this video and blog post.
Cadmium Yellow Light (has a touch of blue in it – Cool)
Cadmium Yellow Medium (has definite tones of red – Warm)
Cadmium Red Medium (tones of yellow – Warm)
Alizarin Crimson Hue (tones of blue – Cool)
Ultramarine Blue (tones of red which makes it look purple – Cool)
Cerulean Blue (tones of yellow – Warm)
We will experiment with mixing Cadmium Yellow Medium (warm) with Cadmium Red Medium (warm) to see the resulting colour that we create. The colour that we get is Orange and it is the most chromatic orange that we will be able to create with the paints we are working with. Why is this? Well, there is no hint of blue in either of those two colours. All we have is Yellow and Red being mixed together. But when we work with Cadmium Yellow Light (cool) and Alizarin Crimson Hue (cool) both these colours have blue in them. Now we have mixed Yellow, Red and tiny bit of Blue which means the resulting orange is duller and has a lower chroma.
As we explore creating purples with the reds and blues we are using, what do we notice? The purple made with the Alizarin Crimson Hue (cool) and Ultramarine Blue (cool) is very dark, but when we add white it is the purer purple. This is because we are only mixing colours that have Red and Blue. Once we mix Cadmium Red Medium (warm) and Cerulean Blue (warm) and the purple is very low chroma which looks greyed out. We have now mixed Red, Blue and a fair amount of Yellow to get this particular purple.
The same result happens when we mix the greens from Yellow and Blue. Cadmium Yellow Light (cool) and Cerulean Blue (warm) create the most chromatic green. Again, we are only mixing Yellow and Blue with these two pigments. But put together Cadmium Yellow Medium (warm) and Ultramarine Blue (cool) the green is smokier in look because both those pigments have added Red into the mixture.
Today we are doing a traditional colour wheel. It seems like a comfortable place to start as most people understand the idea that there are three primary colours - Yellow, Red & Blue; three secondary colours - Green, Purple & Orange, and the tertiary colours we mix are between the primary and secondary paint colours.
We have been taught about this version of a colour wheel since childhood. Though I have learned that when I go to mix colours with the idea of 3 primary colours, I don’t always have as much success. In future videos I will explore other variations of colour wheels because there is a lot more to think about in this colour mixing world.
We are making our own colour wheel because of the inherent limitations that paint pigments have. Our eyes are so sensitive to many values and colours but the pigments that we work with don’t have a very great range at all. When we paint, we are attempting to create a recognizable 3-dimensional illusion on a 2-dimensional surface. We hope our painting expresses our experience with whatever object/place that we want to share with the art viewer.
This colour wheel tool will be used in future videos of ACRYLIC PAINTING 101: Basics for Beginners course.
Now we get to explore the magic even further. This is one of the major the practices that I love to do the most. That is exploring paint colours and how they interact with each other. Pure magic and so liberating.
Today we start with Cadmium Yellow Light as the colour we are mixing into each of the paints we are working with in this lesson.
I do work with a limited palette because I am not what artist Karin Jurick called a ‘condiments girl’. That is a person who uses 30 or 40 or more different colours of paint. That very idea feels stressful to me in two ways. One in the cost and the second in trying to remember what I mixed to get that perfect colour. Too many options would be difficult to manage for me. Thankfully ever artist is different, and we all enjoy our own way of painting.
This colour chart that we are doing has only 8 colours, a warm and cool of Yellow, Red, Blue, a Green and Raw Umber. You have a choice which Blue or Green you use. You are more than welcome to change the Cerulean Blue for Phthalo Blue (green) and to change the Permanent Green Light to a Phthalo Green (blue). These are your charts after all.
Colour Charts are my biggest TOOL that I use on repeat. Having them as a resource helps me to save a lot of time and paint as I begin a new work.
What always is interesting to me is that I can see that there are maybe 2 or 3 different ways to get to a colour I want to mix. With this knowledge I can choose which small grouping of paints will be the best for the overall painting.
You are also building a great deal confidence in your colour choosing process because you have a paint mixing strategy that works every single time. You have created and invaluable resource out of the paint colours that you want to use.
Below are a more colour charts.
Many years ago, I did my first set of colour charts. I was reading Richard Schmid’s ALLA PRIMA II Everything I know about Painting –and more and he talked about doing colour charts. He said that it took him two weeks to create them all but that the time he saved over the years was immeasurable. He also mentioned that his paintings took a giant leap forward because he could see the colours he was looking at and how to recreate them.
In lesson 4 it’s all about creating your very first colour chart. We will start with the paint directly out of the tube and add white. We are keeping it simple.
Now every paint is a different value out of the tube. Cadmium Yellow Light is the lightest value of all the paints (other than white) that we are using during this course. It is a value 9, so adding white means that we are only working from Value 9 to Value 10 (white). This will create very subtle value shifts.
But when we get to Ultramarine Blue, that is a different story. Its value out of the tube is 2, which is dark. The 6 spaces we are using represent much larger value jumps of this colour.
There are some other skills that we are developing as we make our charts. If you are just starting with a palette knife you know how awkward it feels. That changes with practice using it, and colour charts are a perfect way to ‘practice until perfect’. The second skill is learning to recognize value shifts, a valuable understanding as we learn to create the illusion of form.
Subscribe on Youtube to keep up to date with the latest of my Acrylic Painting 101 class. There are a number of videos to come yet. It is a fairly comprehensive beginner acrylic painting course.
Yellowknife watercolour and acrylic artist Shawna Lampi-Legaree’s latest venture can best be summarized as capturing moments of beauty from the world around her.
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