Monday, April 14, 2014

Color Change/ New Color

The problem I get occasionally is a discontinued pigment. This happened with a brown ochre. Ok, it wasn't really discontinued, the company I bought it from decided that it didn't want to be bothered selling me a bag at a time. So the price went up about 10x what it was. So I figured that maybe I make enough yellow brown sandy colors anyway and instead of trying to match the color using different pigments I would just change the color to something that I didn't have. I thought I would make a cooler compliment to the yellow brown colors, besides it would give me a chance to try a new blue shade violet pigment that I was working with.

The above 180-183 is the result. Using a burnt umber as a starting point it has a warm reddish feel that is pulled back by a little bit of blue violet. The lighter tones are wonderful neutrals. I've had it in stock at the shop and without my saying anything (Like look look a new color) several customers have added it to their pallets

Here it is in relation to one of the yellow browns that I make. You can see how it can work as a cooler shadow accent.

It also fits in nicely with the Raw and Burnt Umbers that I make.It fills a gap in the color line for a weird cooler red neutral that you didn't even know you needed but when you see it, of course, it all makes sense now..

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Learning...part 1

When I started making pastels,

 way back when, I did so because I loved the feel of them. It was my Goldilocks moment. The few pastels that I had used before were either to hard and scratchy or way to soft and crumbly. I do like to push a bit when I "draw" so I hope you can understand my problem. Experimenting with different chalks, clays, talcs, etc. I could change how each stick would feel. Suddenly a whole new experience was opening. I had color that I could push against and it wouldn't crumble and be reduced to dust but left in its wake a beautiful rich intensity. They were smooth without being slick.

This led to a group of drawings using this wonderful new color line without end.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Updating Sets

I've been thinking of updating the sets that I offer.  I haven't changed the single color sets since I started- and I made about 200 colors. Now that the line is 350 colors maybe it is time. This is one option that I have been considering for the blues. My original set was a range of 5 of 5 different blues. Now I am thinking of changing that somewhat, bringing in a couple of new colors. One would be the #514 which is a very dark navy blue, almost black. Another would be my #4 a very cool bluish white. The numbers for the set above are: 514, 540, 340, 641, 510 / 520, 341, 80, 430, 140 / 521, 343, 81, 431, 221 / 522, 344, 82, 433, 142 / 4, 524, 84, 434, 144 .

Here is a picture of my current set. The numbers in this set are: 80-84 / 430-434 / 340-344 / 540-544/ 520-524 . Any thoughts about this? Some other suggestions?


Friday, February 12, 2010


I was talking to a customer discussing a black pastels that he had been using. As he was describing the color it occured to me a possible way of making a black pastel using only black ingredients. Sure enough this worked for me, even better than I had anticipated. The resulting pastel had a slightly course feel and is sort of like drawing with a hole it is so dark. I added it to the end of the group of warm greys. The picture above shows the warm black that I make (#450) and this new black (#461).

The black and greys that I make (#450-460) have a little burnt umber mixed with the black to give a warm tone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Color Change

Recently I've had three pigments that I use become unavailable. This has led to a couple changes to the color groups that I make. The biggest change is to the group 280-284. Not being able to get the main pigment for this group led me to rethink what I wanted to do with these colors. I liked the aspect of the color getting yellower as it lightened instead of getting paler. First of all I wanted to make the darker color in the group darker and richer. The bigger change came however in the lightest color.  I couldn't get a good duplication with other pigments that I had available and I was looking for a good yellow green to use in my tropical set. I finally setteled on the color pictured and then worked with the darkest and lightest colors to make the middle ones.

 There were a couple of other colors that also used this pigment but in both cases I've just mixed other pigments to replace the older color. The new colors came very close to the old ones the only difference being that the new colors are not as gritty as the old pigment was. Which, all in all, I can live with that.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tropical Set

I've finally gotten this together. I have to admit that it was rather fun to do. The thing that I learned working on the colors was that I needed to keep the warmth of the color as they got lighter. My first attempts had several of my paler colors included. While the values were right the set seemed duller then I wanted. That was when it occurred to me that the colors got warmer as they got paler and that adding white to them made them paler but also cooler.

This brought up a couple of interesting colors that I have been thinking about for some time. One was a discussion I had with an artist from west Texas about painting the skies there. I've noticed in my few trips to the southwest, the sky goes from a cobalt above you to almost a viridian on the horizon. This probably has to do with the yellow of the light being shorter, etc, etc, I'm forgetting my physics at the moment. Anyway I was working with a very greenish blue as one of the colors that I wanted to use so I started mixing it with various yellows and finally hit on a great combination of colors. These are the color group #720-724.

I've also gotten a couple of new pigments that I was experimenting with. They are both transparent iron oxides, one yellow and one red. Think of them as an intense raw sienna and burnt sienna. I use the yellow to mix with the bright yellow that I have to give it a nice earthiness while still keeping the intensity. The same worked with the red to give a good range of bright but not electric colors. These are the colors #740-743.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I was in New York last week and saw the Giorgio Morandi show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anyone with an interest in painting should see this show. It really might be a once in a lifetime opportunity. When I first moved to NY in 1992 I remember seeing a couple Morandi paintings in a couple of places, I can't remember where exactly but I recall thinking that New York was great because you could see Morandi paintings all the time. Well that thought got proven wrong quickly. A couple of summers ago I was in Paris and saw a show of mid-century Italian art. Wading through a lot of so-so painting there was a room of about 10 Morandis. It was nice to get reacquainted with his work. I've always loved the color palette that he uses and the way he nestles the forms against each other. It was a wonderful day.
I came to the show full of anticipation to finally see a large group of his work. I've seen a few and looked several times at the limited number of books there are, read the biography from a few years ago by Janet Abramowicz. There is something to seeing the actual paintings as opposed to the reproductions. Yes this is always true, but more true in Morandis' case. The one thing that is missing is his touch. The way his touch make a rhythm around the painting. I really noticed it first in the flower paintings about half way through the show. It was the way he marked the vase and then the flowers, the delicate balance of the whole. Several paintings on, there is a lull of a wall of landscapes which I don't particularly care for, I thought it was great to see this many paintings, to be able to see what makes one good and one great and another even better. As I looked at a couple of paintings which didn't look as good as some others, I started to really see them. The ever so slight way that the space between two of the objects became more important than the space to the left of the object and the inflection of the line describing the edge of another object started to play off the space to its right. I couldn't see these things in a reproduction. The paintings are these amazing poems of rhythm and form. They are everything that I want to see in a painting and everything I could hope to put into my own.