Saturday, December 8, 2007

Gray Paint

The results of a project I've intended to do for a long time: mix and tube eight values of neutral gray, according (to the best of my old eyes, bad light, and less than ideal reference) to the Munsell scale. I have found the best way to neutralize color is with the same value of gray, as complements are hard for me to control and unpredictable. My palette usually contains a string of grays, but each session's string tended to vary by my patience or what I perceived the needs of the painting to be (and my perception often veered toward "less"). Finally I ordered empty tubes (from, a wonderful resource for painters) and on Thursday started squeezing and mixing. I used several ends of whites, mostly flake with some titanium and zinc, and most of a new tube of Michael Harding Cremnitz white (lovely paint). A mountain of white to amalgamate. Then a much smaller pile of "black"--a mix of ivory, Williamsburg's Black Roman Earth, and some burnt umber to maintain the neutrality (black paint, especially ivory, tends toward blue). The stainless condiment cup in the photo holds about 60ml; the empty tubes were 50ml; so I had at least a general idea of how much to mix for one tube. I started with a small pile of value 5, to see how hard this was going to be and to check the hue of my black, and then used it to tint the lighter values. I worked from light to dark and fortunately had mixed enough (just enough) black and more than enough white. Kind of messy but very satisfying.

There was enough white to mix four values of raw umber as well.

The Nap One redux

I hope this one is finished; next week it goes to be photographed. The professional photographer will no doubt be able to get an image substantially closer to the real thing--and maybe give me some tips on improving my own photos of work.