Planes of the Head

Here’s a block-in of a ‘Planes of the Head’ sculpture by John Asaro. I found it quite challenging to get all of the angles. I’d say the biggest advantage to this study will be in looking at drawing portraits in the future seeing the planes of the head in real people.

Planes of the Head study. Graphic pencil on bond paper. 7″x7″ overall.

I’ve decided I don’t really like drawing on bond paper one bit. From now I I’m going to try to stick to a better quality drawing paper.


Color Frustrations

Even though I’ve been painting for several years I still found myself frustrated whenever I tried to mix colors. I just found it really difficult to get the color I wanted.

From the time I was in college art classes to all the workshops I’ve taken, the only type of color mixing I’d been exposed to is ‘free mixing’. Free mixing is where an artist has a range of pigments on their palette and uses them to mix the color they want, and normally adding a complement to lower the chroma of the color. I never felt I got the hang of free mixing whether I used a limited palette of just three colors plus white or an expanded palette of up to thirteen colors plus white. Sure I could get close to the color I wanted but it always seemed a chore to do so.

Pre-mixing my colors beforehand helped greatly but I still wasn’t satisfied.

It was this frustration that made me step back and decide to master color mixing. It was then that I ran across Paul Foxton’s web site Learning to See and his videos on YouTube that it really began to make sense of color for me.

“Interestingly when I taught in a graphic design program I taught color correction and color management for photography. It was all about getting the right color. But using pigments and free mixing, that was another story.”

At the same time I found Vitruvian Fine Art Studio’s online courses on drawing so I decided to go back and work on my drawing skills as well. I’ll talk more about my experiences with Vitruvian Art Studio in a later post.

Matching Munsell Chips in the Landscape

I decided to go out and see if I could use the Munsell chips to gauge colors in the landscape. I compared the red rocks in the distance, as well as trees foreground colors and the sky. I found it is entirely possible to use the Munsell chips to gauge colors but there can be problems doing so. First you need to have the sun behind you. Having the sun in front of you just doesn’t work as the chips wind up backlit and just look too dark. Secondly, you must be careful to hold the chip parallel to the object you are trying to judge. Slight changes in the angle of the chip change the value of the chip.

One of the most important things I learned was my judging of where the colors would be compared to their actual color. Before I would compare the chip to the object I would make a guess as to what the color would be in Munsell terms. I normally got the hues very close to the actual Munsell hue but I would consistently judge the value one step too high, and the chroma one step to chromatic. Additionally in comparing shadows and particularly distant trees, the chromas were very low almost neutral. In the Munsell set there are pages of chips of very low chroma. While not numbered I suspect the chromas are 1. I had to use these pages to judge some of the distant colors.

All in all, chromas are lower in reality than I expected. Interestingly this is the same as when I judged colors in my home with fruit, flesh colors, house plants, colorful pottery and other objects. Objects are not as chromatic as we think.

This is a 10R 4/6 chip that matched the light portion of the “Schnebly” rock layer in the background.

Pigments Mapped to Munsell Color Wheel

Since I purchased a Munsell Big Book of Color, one of the things I wanted to do was maps the hues I use to the Munsell Color Wheel. Here’s an infographic I created to show the relationship of the colors to each other on the color wheel. The pigments are Rembrandt unless otherwise noted. One thing to remember is that the color from one manufacturer to another may vary slightly. Sometimes because pigment hues can vary; for example PY35 may vary from slightly YR to slightly GY. Sometimes it can be how manufacturers label the pigments; Cadmium Yellow Pale may be another manufacturers Cadmium Yellow Light. So your pigments may wind up in a slightly different spot on the color wheel than what is shown here. Eventually I would like to map some additional pigments onto the wheel; for example Pthalo Blue and Pthalo Green.

Common Pigments mapped to Munsell Hues

The Munsell hues on the outer ring are as close to the highest chroma for each hue as I could get them given the constrains of printing them on an inkjet printer.

For a PDF version of the chart, here’s the link: Pigments-Mapped-to-Munsell-Color.pdf

Geometric Solid Value Study

This is my first timelapse of doing a painting. It gives me a chance to work out some of the process of recording editing and posting to YouTube.

It’s a value study of geometric forms. Each form is painted a middle grey against a black base, a dark grey wall and a light grey wall. I start out by applying a light coating of walnut alkyd oil. In this study I have already painted an underpainting and am now going over it on a second pass.