This is the limited palette study I mentioned in the last entry. For a larger view, click the thumbnail here.
The object of the study was to work with just three primary colors and produce an entire image. Different artists approached it in various ways, some using just those three colors right out of the tube, and others mixing and blending them to get a fuller range. The specification was pretty precise. We were to use a green-biased yellow (Lemon or Hansa are the commonly used names,) a violet-biased red (Rose or Crimson,) and a green-biased blue (Winsor or Phthalo/Thalo.) The slightly "off center" nature of each primary makes unexpected things happen when they are mixed, and can produce browns or even grays where you'd expect a secondary color to appear. It is still possible to get most of the spectrum, but you often have to mix two different hues and then combine those to get the desired result. In doing this, most colors become somewhat muted and can, if not handled carefully, look muddy or dull.
The three specific pigments required here, called PY3 (a yellow,) PR83 (a violet-rose,) and PB15 (an intense blue) by paint makers, are all synthetic colors and tend to be bright and harsh or garish. If you look closely at the full sized image, I left samples of each in the lower right-hand corner. The scanner has dulled the red a bit, but you can see why you might not want to use these colors by themselves.
It was an interesting challenge to begin with, and I complicated it by choosing a subject with a wide variety of colors in it. Reference photo is here
, an actual photo of my own barns. I changed the view angle and simplified the background somewhat because I thought it would be too busy in a 9 x 6 inch painting.
The drawing, as mentioned earlier, offered some challenges in terms of perspective, especially since I changed the angle of view from what is in the photo, and that had to be overcome before painting could begin. Soon I discovered that I was spending at least twice as much time mixing and testing colors as I was in actually painting. The whole process took three days, partly because of the many layers of color that had to dry between applications and partly because I can only work at this sort of thing for an hour or so at a time before I grow fatigued by the concentration and posture. It could be better, and if I were to expand this little sketch to a full sized painting at 33 x 20 in. or so, it would get much better because so much more detail could be supplied. It would also take a heck of a lot longer if it were done with just those three paints. ;p
I learned that I really can mix earth tones and bright hues from just three primaries, including Payne's grey and something that passes for black but is really a very dark blueish gray. I found that I could create the illusion of detail by using a very fine brush, though the texture of the paper and the limits of water's surface tension impose physical restrictions. The horses might have been better detailed by using watercolor pencil, for instance, but that would have violated the palette requirement. On a larger scale, the tiny brush would be adequate, I'm sure.
On the whole, I think this was indeed an educational experience, and I'm satisfied with the results.