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  1. #1
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    Need to learn to oil paint

    Ok, I know it takes years of practice to learn to paint. I don't expect to be able to paint in a week. Never actually tried oil painting, apart from pushing round some raw umber in a kind of ebauche for life drawing. But my Mentor wants me to do a piece of work that reflects what I want to be doing in a year or two.
    So I was thinking maybe stick to a limited palette. Cad red, Yellow ochre, ivory black and titanium white. I think those are the colours? Or is it lamp black? Does anyone know any resources, on the web, that I can try to pick up the basics of approach and colour mixing? And anything else you think I might need to know. Thanks for you indulgence, Phil.

    Last edited by Aardvarkphil; October 6th, 2007 at 08:50 PM.
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    Seedling has this link in her signature http://conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=98647
    Hope it helps! Good luck.....

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    Cheers Alesoun I will check it out and thanx for luck i'll need it.

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    That palette (the "Zorn Palette") is a good start, especially for figure painting.
    Definitely use ivory black, not lamp. Lamp black is much more powerful and harder to control.


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    Thanks Elwell, I thought it was ivory. You are a scholar and a gentlemen. Hopefully will get to meet you at Seattle if I decide to go. Still in two minds, but I think I'm edging on going.

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    There are two tutorial pages here,
    http://www.studio2ndstreet.com/tutorials.html
    from Ron Lemen on the limited or Zorn palette

    Last edited by Elwell; October 3rd, 2007 at 12:37 PM. Reason: fixing link
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    Craig D thanks that will help with the colour mixing loads. Better start practicing some mixing after tonight's watercolours class.

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    Oops,
    Thanks for fixing the link Tristan.

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    Hey Phil,

    Working with a limited palette can have its advantages when starting out ,but there's nothing wrong with painting with a full color one from the beginning.
    Either way you'll learn about the paint's structure and handling.
    Some students may be overwhelmed with a lot of colors on their palette when starting out so painting limited might be easier to focus on what's important.
    Also you'll need to adapt to the colour variations and most importantly their
    relationships. You'll definately find out it's all relative when you paint with the "Zorn palette" ( btw the historical accuracy of the Zorn palette is debatable,
    but that's beside the issue )

    What i'm trying to say is that the important thing is to become sensitive to
    the colour and that has nothing to do with how many paint tubes you
    squeezed out.

    Oh and focus on value first, then on nailing the right color !!

    Quote Originally Posted by Aardvarkphil View Post
    Does anyone know any resources, on the
    web, that I can try to pick up the basics of approach and colour
    mixing?
    Hmm colour mixing. No book in the world is gonna help you with that. You
    have to do it. Remember that lighting situations are so complex and varied
    that, " this is what to use for skintones" and other bullshit is not going
    to help you when painting from life. All colour is relative and ALL colors can
    occur when painting from life. They'll hit you when you least expect it.

    Good luck !

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    Art Addict thanks for heads up about 'Value' first and for most. Going to try a bit of colour mixing just to get a taste of how to get where I need to be. Got to whip up a life sketch. Then just dive in the deep end. Sink or swim(for a bit) and then sink, probably. But what the hell you got to try haven't you.

    Thanks again for all the advice guys. If anyone else thinks of anything please post. I need all the help I can get.

    Actually I have my first night class in oils tomorrow but I think that will focus on mixing warm and cold primary colours. Better sticking to limited palette for Mentor homework otherwise it will get to difficult I think.

    Last edited by Aardvarkphil; October 3rd, 2007 at 06:27 PM.
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    you might try vermillion red or tera rosa instead of cad red. Cad red is very saturated and can be distracting when trying to concentrate on value and temperature.

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    Good call SweetOblivion314, I've read through Seedling's thread a few times. Must have just glossed over the particular shade of red. Will pick up a tube and try that. Cheers Phil

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    A clarification:
    Genuine vermillion is a bright, opaque orange red, very similar (but even higher in tinting strength) to cad red light. It was the most commonly used bright red pigment through the beginning of the twentieth century. However, it is highly toxic (mercuric sulphide), and extremely expensive. These days it's only available in oils from a few specialty manufacturers. Almost everything sold as "vermillion" is some sort of modern organic red pigment, most of which have little resemblance to the real thing. Cadmiums are really the best readily available substitute.

    Terra rosa is an orangy shade of synthetic iron oxide (similar to mars red, venetian red, english red, etc). While not as high chroma as the cadmiums, the synthetic earth reds are very opaque and high in tinting strength. They can easily replace cads when super bright color isn't needed.


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    Nice thread here. Very informative. I have a question if you don't mind me asking.

    What colors would you need for a full color palette? Obviously all colors can be included, but for someone with a limited budget, what colors would do the job? Thanks.

    Last edited by Dizon; October 5th, 2007 at 12:28 AM.
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    Hey Patdzon,

    Yeah, it doesn't realy matter. Depends on the subject and interpretation as well.

    Off course some colours are more versatile ten others.
    I would make sure you have some earth tones, cadmiums, a blue, (wich can be expensive) alizarin crimson, viridian or sap and white ( zinc -titanium or lead )
    Jeremy lipking's palette has a lot of reach, you might want to take a look at his.

    In studio escalier they used a full colour one. Hmm let's see of the top of my head :

    - Titanium white, flake
    - nickel titanium yellow light
    - naples yellow
    - cadmium lemmon
    - brilliant pink ( lovely color! )
    - cadmium red
    - cadmium orange
    - coral red
    - cadmium red purple
    - Alizarin crimson
    - King's blue
    - cerulean blue
    - ultramarine
    - cobalt
    - Permanent violet
    - viridian or sap green
    - raw umber
    - burnt umber
    - raw sienna
    - transparent red oxide
    - yellow ochre
    - blue black
    - ivory black

    I probably miss a couple but it gives you an idea

    Last edited by Art_Addict; October 10th, 2007 at 07:15 PM.
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    Yeah, I heard the folks at Escalier have a huge palette. Thanks.

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    my teachers palette is:
    titanium white
    Naples yellow
    Cad yellow light
    Cad red med
    tera rosa
    yellow ochre
    alizarin chrimson
    ultramarine blue
    cerulian blue
    sap green
    veridian
    burnt umber

    he doesn't always use them all but thats what he typically chooses from. he also said any palette covering the split primaries with burnt umber (if you dont want black) and white would work. Split primaries being 1 primary on each side of the true primary. So a slight yellow orange and yellow green, blue violet and blue green and red orange and red violet.

    O and there is an article about Jeremy Lipking in the current issue of American Artist Workshop magazine. You should check it out.

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    Hi!
    I too am trying to learn oils. I notaced the mention of the zorn palette and I have a question. I don't have cadmium red but I do have cadmium scarlet. Can I use it unstead? And are there any tutorials on using the zorn palette? I'm going to bring my oils to the life drawing session tomarrow and I don't know if I should stick to a limited palette.

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  30. #20
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    Ok so I've tried a couple of sheets of colour mixes. Decided to give Cad red and venetian red a go to see the difference. Other colours yellow ochre, ivory black(not lamp black as marked up) and titanium white.
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    Sorry I don't have any software to balance the images of the colour sheets properly. The question I have is where do I start with mixing skin tones. I realise this is a wide range of values. But any help would be appreciated.

    Last edited by Aardvarkphil; October 7th, 2007 at 07:19 PM.
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    Good job with those studies.

    Skin tones depend almost entirely on what else is in the scene, particularly the lights. A starting point would be to try mixing in dabs of all the other colors into white. But that’s only a starting point. Try painting a self-portrait, while focusing on getting accurate colors rather then on getting accurate details or an accurate likeness. That will teach you more than any formula.

    I think you are awesome, and I wish you the best in your endeavors, but I am tired of repeating myself, I am very busy with my new baby, and I am no longer a regular participant here, so please do not contact me to ask for advice on your career or education. All of the advice that I have to offer can already be found in the following links. Thank you.

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    That's funny my vermillion looks more like your cad red... it's REALLY vibrant.

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    Venetian red, yellow ochre + white is a good start with skintones in the light (daylight that is). Make them less orange with touches of blue (black is essentially a very dark blue).

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    i find these work best as a basic: and you could basicly get any colour combination by mixing these.

    lamp black
    titanium white
    cadmium red
    cadmium lemmon
    ultramarine blue
    cerulean blue - very good for bright tropical skies and for mixing with yellow to get a nice lush green grass

    indian red, good for mixing skin tones

    if your just starting with oils, you should try out windsor&newton alkyds (fast drying oils) these can dry in an hour, so their actually perfect for illustration jobs or any other art that has a deadline, unlike traditional oils which can take forever. Also try other colours, as some can be slightly greasy, and more suited for layering. But basicly as long as you have the top 6, you can do anything with them.

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  38. #25
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    Seedling that sounds like a fine idea. I'm beginning to realise that it's not the colours you got it's the way you mix them. I guess just slogging away with colour studies and exercises like you suggest are the only way to get to grips with the complex subject of colour mixing. It ain't as easy as you think to mix an exact colour to match something. Practice practice practice and a few healthy doses of theory too.


    Jake cheers that Todd Lockwood site is pretty cool
    K4pka cheers for the info
    Grenogs another interesting palette cheers


    Got given a bottle of liquin. Not quite sure how to use it but would like to know because I'm starting to generate a ferocious amount of wet oil colour studies and mixing charts. Been looking on the web but not really too much other than dip your brush in it then into the paint. I mean how much should I use. Surely too much on the brush and the paint won't stay on. If anybody has an ideas or views on this they would be greatfully welcomed. Cheers Phil

    Last edited by Aardvarkphil; October 11th, 2007 at 07:18 PM.
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    Aardvarkphil: Liquin will fast become your best friend. You can use as much as you like with a mixture, even to the point of creating a transparent glaze. It acts like a siccative, i.e. increases the drying time and a small amount or large amount does the same job in ensuring that the paint is dry for the next day. Don't worry about the paint adhesion, it is perfectly sound and you will have no problems no matter how much you use. - It rather reminds me of an anecdote about Stanley Spencer whose reply to a question about the effects of the close proximity of a steaming kettle on a painting he was working on replied: "It won't fall off! If you kiss a with love you won't get the pox and if you put the paint on with love it won't fall off!" - Like I said, you will have a love affair with liquin....

    On the buisiness of pallette here's what I would recomend:

    Cad yellow medium
    Cad red
    Alizarin
    Ultramarine blue
    Titanium white

    That's it, you can make practically anything with this combination of red, yellow and blue although a good turquoise will be beyond it's capabilities.

    Oh, and mix it on a white pallette.

    From Gegarin's point of view
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Oh, and mix it on a white pallette.
    True, and very helpfull, if you are painting on a white canvas (which you probably are)

    If you are painting on a brownish tinged canvas a wood palette would match better. You will soon notice that colours next to and underneath what you are painting will influence what colour you perceive your paint to be.

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    Can I just paint my palette white? Would I benefit by paying the 30 bucks and getting the Cad Red?

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    You should be able to get a tube of cadmium red in a decent brand for at least half that. Do you need it? I can't say.


    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Aardvarkphil: Liquin will fast become your best friend. You can use as much as you like with a mixture, even to the point of creating a transparent glaze. It acts like a siccative, i.e. increases the drying time and a small amount or large amount does the same job in ensuring that the paint is dry for the next day. Don't worry about the paint adhesion, it is perfectly sound and you will have no problems no matter how much you use. - It rather reminds me of an anecdote about Stanley Spencer whose reply to a question about the effects of the close proximity of a steaming kettle on a painting he was working on replied: "It won't fall off! If you kiss a with love you won't get the pox and if you put the paint on with love it won't fall off!" - Like I said, you will have a love affair with liquin....

    Uhm.... No.

    Why exactly do you want to use liquin, Aardvarkphil?

    Many people have complained about it's ability to change color over time.
    And it seems to have a tendency to delaminate as well when brushed into the surface as a medium.

    When you are going for quick drying, use liquin. If you care about your painting, think before using mediums.

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