Art: 2 Oil painting questions (Sargent guru's get in here!)
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  1. #1
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    2 Oil painting questions (Sargent guru's get in here!)

    I just went to the book store and I was looking at Sargent books. I found one painting I really liked the technique. It's called "Ricordi di capri" and it's in the book "Great expectations: John singer sargent paints children". Anyway, it's a picture of a big white wall in capri and 2 small kids on the stairs. The whole wall though has a very very rough look, and I wondered how he paints like that and what technique to use to emulate it. I've tried, but I just end up with a kind of muddy blended blob that looks more like i messed up than a really good "rough" look with tons of broken color. Here is another example, however this isn't nearly as good as the one in the book. I realize a lot of this is probably just a thinned wash with a rough brush, but that's not what i'm talking about. its done with thick paint (i think). It's almost as if he used thick paint and made it very rough, then let it dry, then did a glaze overtop with a darker color so there are lots of "pinpoints" of dark and white. Hopefully you understand



    My other question is, wahts the best way to make a neutral gray. Also, a good black, I haven't really found the right colors yet. I use the schmid palette.

    Thanks

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    i've seen that painting you're talking about at the brooklyn museum sargent show, sweet stuff. i'm not sure that wasn't one of his pretextured canvas'

    does schmid use black?
    the key for impasto painting is to lay the color down and don't fudge with it too much, don't move it around too much or it'll flatten out and you lose everything. mix your colors and put it down. and lay more ontop of that, dont' push. your hands have to be sensitive, just like in drawing. that neutral gray thing i can't tell you, because it's not like cooking i'm sure some numbnut out there has it down to a recepy, a drop of this a pinch of that, and pow! perfect gray. robot painting sucks. when i had to mix my greys i usually just mix alittle of my black and alittle white and color x.

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    Are you talking about the Tyrolese Crucifix painting? If so, I'm inclined to say the effect you're after is in his preparation of the surface. He probably prepared the surface with several thick coats of a true gesso primer with a palette knife and the canvas or linen may have had a fairly course weave. The wall texture is probably a combination of how he prepared the surface and a combination of paint application techniques like scumbling, maybe a bit of palette knife work, and letting the wash stained canvas show through in areas.

    Also Schmid doesn't use black in his palette, he used to, but he took it out years ago. He uses transparent oxide red and ultramarine blue to start out as a base for making a black and then adds a bit of whatever else he needs depending on the situation. I would recommend adding an ivory black to your palette until mixing is a little more intuitive.

    As for a neutral gray. Start off by mixing a pair of complementary colors and 'season to taste' with other colors. You'll probably need to add white to give it a medium value. There should be a neutral gray in the color charts in Schmid's book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MadSamoan
    Are you talking about the Tyrolese Crucifix painting? If so, I'm inclined to say the effect you're after is in his preparation of the surface. He probably prepared the surface with several thick coats of a true gesso primer with a palette knife and the canvas or linen may have had a fairly course weave. The wall texture is probably a combination of how he prepared the surface and a combination of paint application techniques like scumbling, maybe a bit of palette knife work, and letting the wash stained canvas show through in areas.

    Also Schmid doesn't use black in his palette, he used to, but he took it out years ago. He uses transparent oxide red and ultramarine blue to start out as a base for making a black and then adds a bit of whatever else he needs depending on the situation. I would recommend adding an ivory black to your palette until mixing is a little more intuitive.

    As for a neutral gray. Start off by mixing a pair of complementary colors and 'season to taste' with other colors. You'll probably need to add white to give it a medium value. There should be a neutral gray in the color charts in Schmid's book.

    Awesome! Just the information i was looking for, thank you so much! Also thank you very much jrr, you also really helped.
    I have alla prima, and im actually not that bad at mixing colors, it's just I haven't found the right combination yet for a really GOOD, true black. I always kind of did alizeron and ultramarine and a little green.

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    " it's just I haven't found the right combination yet for a really GOOD, true black"

    just use ivory black.. i dont see why people are scared of using black when the situation calls for it.. its so simple to me..

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    I was thinking of the wrong painting, so I looked up the painting you mentioned (I was confused about whether Ricordi di capri was the name of the painting or some technique I hadn't heard of)

    Anyways, the effect you mentioned is just the texture of the prepared surface. The thickness came from applying the paint very thickly on, probably with a palette knife and then going over it with a stiff, course bristle brush. The dark pinpoints you mentioned are really just the cast shadows of the thick paint after it dried. I've prepared canvas this way before with a heavy coat of lead white and it takes weeks, even months to properly dry before you can paint on it.

    As for blacks, ivory black in the past has been prone to cracking. Sargent loved using black and in unrestored Sargents, you can see paintings that had minimal cracking until you get to the passages containing black and then the cracking gets extensive. I don't know if today's ivory black does the same thing, but it was enough of a concern that Schmid took it off his palette and to him it's an easy enough color to mix up in a few seconds. He doesn't advise against it, he just doesn't use it himself.

    On a last note, I just looked at my color chart exercises that I did out of the Alla Prima book and it looks like you can get a decent neutral gray by mixing either Cobalt Blue or Ultramarine Blue with Cadmium Yellow Deep or Transparent Oxide Red. Add white into the any of these mixtures and you should have what you're looking for.

    Last edited by MadSamoan; January 11th, 2005 at 04:57 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadSamoan
    I was thinking of the wrong painting, so I looked up the painting you mentioned (I was confused about whether Ricordi di capri was the name of the painting or some technique I hadn't heard of)

    Anyways, the effect you mentioned is just the texture of the prepared surface. The thickness came from applying the paint very thickly on, probably with a palette knife and then going over it with a stiff, course bristle brush. The dark pinpoints you mentioned are really just the cast shadows of the thick paint after it dried. I've prepared canvas this way before with a heavy coat of lead white and it takes weeks, even months to properly dry before you can paint on it.

    As for blacks, ivory black in the past has been prone to cracking. Sargent loved using black and in unrestored Sargents, you can see paintings that had minimal cracking until you get to the passages containing black and then the cracking gets extensive. I don't know if today's ivory black does the same thing, but it was enough of a concern that Schmid took it off his palette and to him it's an easy enough color to mix up in a few seconds. He doesn't advise against it, he just doesn't use it himself.

    On a last note, I just looked at my color chart exercises that I did out of the Alla Prima book and it looks like you can get a decent neutral gray by mixing either Cobalt Blue or Ultramarine Blue with Cadmium Yellow Deep or Transparent Oxide Red. Add white into the any of these mixtures and you should have what you're looking for.
    Wow, this is why I love CA, everyone is willing to go the extra mile to help even though it's out of the way. Thank you Thank you for the texture ideas and a good way to get black/gray. Too bad my painting supplies are 3 hours from here I couldn't bring them with me because there was no room on train.
    I have one final question, but this may be more detailed or extensive. Or it may just be a problem I need to figure out on my own. How do I make my paintings look more like "rough" masterpieces (like schmids work of houses for examples) as opposed to a 'garage sale painting'. Here's what i mean, when I paint houses, it kind of ends up looking like this:
    http://www.nickjainschigg.org/365Days/Day055.html#
    (That's credit to a painting a day' http://www.nickjainschigg.org/APaintingADay.html . I'm not reflecting on his skill, just using it as an example). Anyway, When we both paint buildings, mine looks more simble or "whole" or something, like in that link. But when schmid does it, he can make an entire canvas of the same color look interesting, and doesnt have a problem at all with the sides of buildings (big blocks of color). When I examine the two paintings though I can't really tella difference.. is it just the color choices, edges or brushstrokes? obviously that one doesn't compare to schmid, but I'm getting at that my paintings are usually "simple" looking, and schmids look complex or fun to look at, even though were both painting a solid wall.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Main Loop
    " it's just I haven't found the right combination yet for a really GOOD, true black"

    just use ivory black.. i dont see why people are scared of using black when the situation calls for it.. its so simple to me..
    When pure black gets mixed in with skin tones it can turn them very chalky. For example if you mix black into your skin tone to create a shadow color it will lose its richness and becomes chalky, you will get a much better color mixing it with with out black. Also you can control the tempeture of you black when you mix it. I use Ultramarine blue and Burnt Umber or Burnt Sienna, a little more of either in the mix and you have a cooler or warmer black.

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    It's called "Ricordi di capri" and it's in the book "Great expectations: John singer sargent paints children". Anyway, it's a picture of a big white wall in capri and 2 small kids on the stairs. The whole wall though has a very very rough look, and I wondered how he paints like that and what technique to use to emulate it.
    I wasn't able to find an example of the painting you described but from your description you could probably achieve this effect by doing an underpainting. Paint in rich dark areas and areas of richer color than you would normally use. Once the underpainting dries, go back in with more neutral colors in middle & light values to tone the underpainting down. As was mentioned above, use a combination of dry-brush, semi-transparent and opaque techniques to get your texture.

    It probably wouldn't hurt to do some experiments on some cheap canvas paper to test the technique before trying it on a finised piece.

    Mark Hannon
    Art Direction & Design
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    Quote Originally Posted by Caustic
    Anyway, When we both paint buildings, mine looks more simble or "whole" or something, like in that link. But when schmid does it, he can make an entire canvas of the same color look interesting, and doesnt have a problem at all with the sides of buildings (big blocks of color). When I examine the two paintings though I can't really tella difference.. is it just the color choices, edges or brushstrokes? obviously that one doesn't compare to schmid, but I'm getting at that my paintings are usually "simple" looking, and schmids look complex or fun to look at, even though were both painting a solid wall.

    I can't presume to say that I know what makes Schmid's work 'fun' to look at, but he is a virtuoso when it comes to his handling paint and when it comes to direct painting, he's probably the most well versed technician alive. If you can, watch one of his demonstration DVD's and you'll see that he uses alot of washes, palette knifework, a variety of brushstrokes, and different brushes in his arsenal of methods. But these are just ends to a means and underlining all that is his excellent draftsmanship, and the ability to create color harmony, control value passages, and color temperature.

    I was also just thinking that a quick way of getting that textured surface that you're looking for without having agonizingly long drying periods is to try priming some canvas or board with those textured mediums for acrylic paints made by Golden or Liquitex amd apply it with a palette knife.

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