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Monday, September 1, 2008

Food for thought -French sauces! A La Zorn.



So much discussion goes on in my teaching class about color! What palette is best? How do you get that green on the skin just there? And why did you put it there? How come we don't see it there? Should one keep it simple using a Zorn-like palette or not? 

I have students come in with a beautiful full rainbow palette and possess an equally lovely color sense and application that I admire. Then I find they have studied with Sharon Burkett Kaiser , www. sburkettkaiser.com, one of the best around, herself trained by Russian painter Sergei Bongart, www.sergeibongart.com, unfortuanately no longer with us. Then I have had others who simply were too dazzled by that full palette to know what to do with it. Others who were getting comfortable with their palette to be then completely thrown by all that Zorn black in front of them. I had this happen just last week in class and it was interesting as a teacher. Simple sometimes is complicated. 

Anders Zorn, 1860- 1920,  was a Swedish painter,  with a wow factor bar none. Great restraint and great juicy soft painting. He is credited for this very limited palette but anyone who paints knows he put other colors out there sometimes. You can only achieve a certain amount of blue tones with black and ivory white next to orange.

The main palette I use is the one taught to me by my teacher Mr. Everett Raynmond Kinstler N.A.  www.everettraymondkinstler.com, aformentioned many times in this blog!,   Still fairly limited at nine colors or so, but it does work so well around a light and darker value for each of the primary colors. Just look at his paintings for proof. There is no-one better for the study of color in this lifetime. Sorolla in the last!  And actually, I do think Ovanes Berberian, this lifetime, really rather damn good.

Mr. Kinstler's color palette is Permalba white, cad. yellow pale, raw sienna, cad. red light, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, burnt umber (I prefer raw umber), sap green OR chromium oxide green. I like c.o.green. NO BLACK.  As all my students know, burnt sienna and c.o. green make some beautiful shadow colors that you can enhance any way you wish, a bit of purple/blue here, a bit or orange there.

However, I have found much value to experimenting with the Zorn palette, yellow ochre,vermillion and black. There is a certain harmonious restraint that happens.  And also experimenting with other three color palettes around the primaries.

Look to the beautiful work of artist Dawn Whitelaw, www.dawnwhitelaw.com,  to see what can be done with a three color palette. Her landscapes are magnificent as is her portrait work. GREAT color! She studied with Mr. K. for many years and has really made his teachings her own. Impressive. I admire this lady a lot. She is also very generous with her advice and teaches much in demand workshops. 

But really, you can choose any yellow, red and blue, plus white and black and have some fun. But go steady with the black. See if you can tone down with compliments first before dipping into the big black hole. YOU will learn a LOT about color mixing and color temperature. I know I have during the last several years of experimentation. I can now see a color before me and KNOW which way it leans temperature-wise and how to mix it.

A recent thought of mine has been to use the Zorn palette most of the way through a painting, SEE THESE TWO IMAGES, and then add some brights on top around the color wheel theory, limiting your 'brights" to the color compliments. You have to tread carefully but it is FUN. And I kind of like how it looks.

It reminds me of what an a wise old artist/sculptor said to me over lunch recently: "A painter needs greyed color much like a french chef needs a good sauce as the base for his food". 

Let me know what you think???? Just the painting, not the sauce stuff. I know the sauce I like. Cream with peppercorns all the way.

I teach Thursdays at the stellar Los Angeles Academy of Fine Arts in Van Nuys, CA., www.laafa.org. Visit the site for  more information about its' curriculum, including an impressive atelier training program in the academic tradition which Zorn would have been proud of.





3 comments:

Marian Fortunati said...

I LOVE this post!!! (You must have read that e-article I sent you as I see some snippets reflective of that!)
That quote about greyed color is so great... if only I could totally internalize it!!

I can't wait to see you over at LAAFA.

Portrait Painting By Johanna Spinks said...

Actually, I couldn't get onto that site to read Dawn's piece, but I am glad to hear I am echoing some snippets there as Dawn knows her stuff!

Can't wait to see you too...we have a model this week in class. Come and paint!

Rhonda Hartis Smith said...

Johanna,
Great post, I'm going to take these palates and do a flesh color chart with each of them for reference. I need a little help with my fleshtones sometimes and thought this would be a good exercise for me in addition to having the color reference.
I'm so glad I found your site.
Rhonda