Friday, October 19, 2007

The Rational Painting Forum is now open!

The new forum is now open, at

Some people (mostly from the google-group) are pre-registered. Please check your emails, as I have sent you an email with your username and password.

If you have not received an email from me, then please set up a new registration.

Please register with your real full name - forename and surname

Also, note that (for security) new registrations require Admin approval for validation, so it is likely that it will be several hours before your registration is validated (its 5.30am here in London as I write this, and I've not slept yet!!). You should receive a notification email on validation.

Would Sunny please contact Richard or Graydon to discuss your membership.

Please bear in mind that the forum is newly set-up - we will be doing some streamlining and reorganisation over the next few days. I still need to import some posts from the blog and group, from the last 24 hours.

Please start posting onto the forum, in preference to the blog or group, as soon as your posting privileges are activated there. I'd like us all to be using the forum with in next 24 hours or so.


Finalising the new forum

We are not QUITE ready to go live yet, with the forum, but should be within a few hours.

I have CLOSED the ability to register with the site for the moment, and will announce here when it is re-opened, along with details of the address, etc. We have had a few people try to join up already.

Patience, please.


5YR 6/4

This response to Graydon's homework for Neal that he did A+ work on had to be replied to this way so I could show the above image.

The image posted above - granted monitors, browsers, digital cameras, light direction, all of these taken in account will change things – were “grabbed” directly off my monitor from Neal’s mix with chip and extra background area and two of my mixes. I didn’t retouch except I put a drop shadow on my samples to give them the same lift in the image when placing them on the extra background. On side of the mixes do not have the shadow. I did show Neal's chip on both sides and brought one in closer for the image size.

Neal said he used the following colors for his mix: I used Cad red lt., Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Cad yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and flake white.

I am NOT being an antagonist, I just thought if Liberace’s name was on this - it should be his palette that Neal was working from. There are differences, that would matter to the color and to Rob, imo. Also I had qualified my values were likely off...

Rob does not use the Cad Red lt. or the Ultramarine in skin, but granted your homework was to use his palette and those are included. The skin colors for average Caucasian skin are the ones I showed and listed below, Ultramarine I guess could be used for graying down, but he would prefer you to mix Alizarin with Cerulean in lieu of Manganese violet.

I included the Sienna vs. Umber when I listed my palette but the important notation was that they'd both be removed off the palette after the form, figure, sketch on the canvas was completed, as I posted previously.

So there would not have been an option for the Burnt Sienna although looking at my chip I see where this would help for the chroma and value Graydon chose.

Also Rob would never use a Cad yellow (med) as he would not use the Turquoise Med either that I throw on there. (To see the repeat colors on the actual palette they are under the “Other Color…” post.)

OK, Oranges to Oranges...

Looking at the chip in my book and my mixes they could benefit from a bit of ochre/sienna or Cad Orange, or perhaps the yellow was just off.

Also looking at the chip, this would not ever been considered an average local color for C. skin, but what of the 5 YR 8/2 and 8/4? Better yet a value of 9, which my book does not offer.

The reason I am trying to translate the meaning of this exercise is to understand why it would have taken hours when you know from below – ruby, yellow lt., flake and chroma reduced with Manganese violet?

Perhaps that mix was to be a mystery and here is where the learning curve begins? Or was it to show how hard it is to mix a palette one is not familiar with, thus the chips being a good way to reassure your choices or as you learn - it can actually help make choices for you?

Rational Painting: A New Frontier

The Rational Painting Forum will running soon.

There will be two main requirements to post.

1. There will be no anonymous posters. All handles will be people's real names. This is to avoid sniping and ad hominem attacks on other well-meaning members, acts which seem to increase when people are not held responsible for their opinions.

2. As much as possible, all must be dedicated to critical thinking. That is, opinions must be supported by reason. ( Check the link on critical thinking.) The concern for all will be learning through trial, experience and debate. Respect is paramount and arguments will be geared toward greater understanding of the topic at hand. Expressions of personal taste are fine but must be supported by a thoughtful explanation.

Anyone can participate if they are willing to abide by the above and are dedicated to improving art. Art has resisted clarity and the rational for the last one hundred years. Its time that it changes.

I understand that artists can be passionate, and therefore hot-headed. If anything nasty is said or implied, the author of the post will have a chance to clarify his or her point and remove the offensive material. No one willing to rethink a statement will be asked to leave. However all nonsensical and off-topic posts will be removed to keep conversations on tract. No dissenting opinions will be removed as long as they are supported and not meant just to be contrary. The goal, again, is to collectively establish useful information and test its efficacy.

Homework from Graydon

So here is my mix of 5YR 6/4 from Beth's (Liberace's) palette. I used Cad red lt., Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, Cad yellow, Alizarin Crimson, and flake white. It was a beast to control and took a long time to come around.

Also, the other picture is from some color charts I did a couple of summers ago, but have proven to be worth their weight in gold. It is similar to the pigment file color charts that Graydon has us all doing, but it is a step further in one direction. Namely, what happens when you change values with a certain pigment. Hue shifts and chroma shifts become very apparent. The nice thing about having this is that I can take any chip from the munsell big book and look through my list of pigments at that chroma and find what comes the closest at that value.

The other day when I was mixing up a high chroma string of 5PB I was shocked by what pigments I was using to achieve the string. At value 9 I used ultramarine and Diox. and white. By value 7 I was using straight cobalt blue and white, by value 4 I was using nothing but pthalo and white, near value 2 it started to go toward Pthalo Blue Green. Really weird but cool. If I had decided that this string was going to be hit by Pthalo or Cobalt, I would have missed it by a long way on several values. It was really nice to have that reference to fall upon when I was trying to mix to find out what a certain pigment does exactly at a certain value. To anyone who doesn't want to be ignorant of what exactly each pigment in their drawer does at a certain value I highly suggest this exercise. It took me a little over 2 months to complete, and that was working everyonce in awhile for a little over 200 paints. Also of great interest is the differences between blacks. As Graydon points out their is do difference between a "Chromatic Black" i.e. one mixed with several pigments and one that is made from one source if that source tends to the same direction as the chromatic black once mixed with white.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Organization of Tubes

Awhile ago Richard and I were discussing organization of tubes. Although I love having tubes of the exact colors I want ready and waiting, the sheer amount sometimes can get frustrating. I originally wanted to get a tube rack from an art store that was going out of business, like an OH case. Then, I had the bright idea that one of those old college mail box cabinets would be great, you know the ones with all the little doors and windows. Well this is what I have come up with, (and it is all free).

If you go to any Starbucks (yeah, my second home) and ask for any extra "Mug Boxes" they will usually give them to you for free. The order the mugs, and most people just buy them and don't take the boxes and so they just throw them away. The fit 9-15 tubes perfectly, depending on how full they are and how long they are after you fill them. Then I got some milk crates from a convenience store (again for free) and the boxes fit about 18-24 boxes per crate depending how you pack them.

This means you could basically have one hue per crate. 2.5YR 9-2/2 = one box, 2.5YR 8-2/4 one box, /6= 1, /8=1, and then 5YR 9-2/2=1, and the same for 7.5 and 10YR. Then when you want some YR you just pull out that crate.

Not a perfect system, but hey, "Free is a very good price. - Tom Peterson"

Here is some of my paint collection, and yes there 9 or 8 values in each box. DAS A LOTTA MIXEN!!! :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Renior Palette

Here is an example of an actual palette of Renoir. One of the core impressionist (although the least talented). But, interesting to note which colors he has as paint volcanoes on this palette. Chrome yellow, Vermilion, Ultramarine Blue, Red Madder, Prussian Blue, and White. As Graydon pointed out to me today the limiting nature and high chroma of these colors give way to in general high key and high chroma paintings.

The last and damn I did it wrong!

I did this as the highest chroma, meaning no white and then did a string of values and grayed them down.

The two local flesh colors, one with more yellow, one with more ruby shown are then grayed down with a maganese (sp?) violet, these starting at only the middle values.
These are created wth cad yellow light, ruby and white.

The bottom row is the transitional color shown in a value scale, becasue this is to remain cool. Sometimes I put some ochre or more yellow light in it to lead into a more vibrant color, example, going into the nose. These are made with Cad yellow light, Alizarine, and Phthalo green with white.

The three darkest darks, are ruby, yellow light and turquoise light, these never have white. I have shown a bit overstated one with more turquoise and one with more ruby.

I am thinking that the dark with not as much extra turquiose, but some - with white added might make the neutral. I didn't have time to play with this because I had to work on a commission, but my light has left me again. I should say these had to be mixed under color corrected artifical light, the CRI is either 98 or 99.

Graydon you are going to love this... "Don't copy tjavascript:void(0)he skin - make the paint do lively things across the form!" :)

I hope I haven't screwed the image up too bad in photoshop for color and light correction, I am sure some values might be off, I rushed. Whew, I had to fix it for the yellow, it "need more cow bell". Doesn't anyone else have some interesting palettes to test Graydon on? I know he's getting sick of me! :)

With confusion,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I'm Sorry

I'm sorry, if I have posted subjects that I shouldn't of. I have posted things that have not been totally Munsell related and if this is the only thing this blog was developed for, I have been truely off base, and likely tedious or frustrating to other members - although, I was really trying to understand how it applied to a high chroma palette.

I thought it was about color and how you use it and how the Munsell system would apply, or maybe how any system/theories would apply.

I do apologize for my mis-understanding, Graydon please feel free to remove my post that aren't related to Munsell, I will be happy to just sit back and read.

:) Beth

Please do not double-post

As I am putting together a database of posts (in preparation for a forum) made to the blogs and the google-group, I would be EXTREMELY grateful if people do not double-post onto both the blog and the google group - please post only on one (personally, it would be easier for me if posts were made to the blog here - which Graydon has also said he prefers to post on).


A Neutral By Any Other Mixture...Is Still Neutral.

Here is an interesting experiment for anyone willing to try it.

First of all, I have said many time how I make a Munsell Neutral.

1. Take Black plus white to the desired value.

2. Take Burnt Umber plus white to the same value.

3. Mix the Burnt Umber and white into the Black and white mixture until you get a dead Neutral.

Keep a bit of the Black and White mixture in reserve in case you add too much Burnt Umber and White. The amount of Burnt Umber needed will vary from value to value.

But there are many other ways to do it.

You can post them here.

No matter what palette of colors one uses, it is beneficial to know how to mix a dead neutral out of them. If you can't, then modeling realistically will be a lot more difficult and the palette will need to be adjusted.

Try it for the colors Beth listed.

Monday, October 15, 2007

5P 4/12

Here's my 5P 4/12 chip.

I got out that little tube of Rembrandt Perm. Violet and matched the Munsell chip again - just to make sure. Don't know if you can see the blob of paint on the Munsell chip - but it is there. (Neglected to include that Titanium was used to see the full chroma.)

(This color is very difficult to photograph - the photo is straight from the camera - no adjusting in photoshop.)

I'd be glad to donate the photos of all my Munsell work to the new Forum if Graydon and Rich feel it would be helpful. I'll wait til I hear from one of them, or their computer wizard on where/what to send.

I re-iterate what Paul and others have said. Reading and looking at pretty pictures is entertaining, but not very useful unless you are doing the work as well. And then it's a guideline - something to test on your own.

Also, someone thought of skipping the Student Book and going straight for the 'formulas' in the Big Book. There are NO FORMULAS in the Big Book (only Munsell notations)! You still must analyze and mix up what you think will match the chip. If it's not right then you must adjust - and sometimes it's only a tiny bit of an adjustment, but makes all the difference.

Graydon's already given us a list of paints that will hit 99% of those chips. Then it's just a question of doing the work.
Hang in there to everyone working on this - it gets easier!

Beth and Liberace: Considering an Advanced Artist's Palette.

Here is the palette Beth listed based on Robert Liberace.

My Portrait Palette, based on Liberace’s

Burnt Sienna
Cad Yellow Light * ** ***
Cad Orange
Cad Red Light
Pyrralo Ruby * ***
Alizarin Crimson **
Cobalt Violet Light
Cobalt Violet Med
Manganese Violet
Cobalt Blue Turquoise Light ***
Cobalt Blue Turquoise
Cerulean Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Phthalo Green **
Viridian Green Light
Flake White * **

First, I think we should find the Munsell notations. I know, for example, that Cad Yellow Light is likely 5Y 8.5/16.

Remember that flesh ranges from the 1st to the 5 or 6th chroma, from the grayishness of a shaved beard to the ruddiness of a baby's cheeks.

So, first of all, the mixtures must be neutralized in one way or another to fit within this range. How is it done?

A mixture of Pthalo Green, Alizarin Crimson and Burnt Sienna, plus white, should make a dead neutral, theoretically. Or, one can use Cobalt Blue, Aliz Crim and Burnt Sienna. These mixture will neutralize any mixture.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Science or Art? On other site too, Oy Vey...

Granted I am just reading the "Munsell Book for Students" because I
wanted to get the gist of what Graydon and others are talking about...
I understand there is so much more to it.
In a discussion about this system I asked about the large book and
this is what I was told about it - well really how it is used:

"In my head painting class, the model had a blue drapery hung behind
her blond hair. So I got out my blue chips and found out what the
exact local of the drapery was. It turns out to be 5PB 5/4. I know
because it is in a 3/4 light that the value 5 local will appear nearly
as a 7 in the average lights, a 4.5 in the average halftones, and
nearly at 2 in the average darks. So guess what I am doing today? I am
tubing a string consisting of 5PB 9/2 and 5PB 8-2/4. I could just mix
up the piles I need, but I found it better to just mix up and tube the
strings. You never know when you might need this next.

How would I be able to mix exactly the drapery without this book?
Guess??? But, that isn't the best part, say I wanted to make this a
5BG instead because of the color of her skin being 5YR the complement
would be 5BG. Because I have the chips I could mix up the same string
in chroma 4 for 5BG instead. Or, I could bump up the chroma, or drop
it and have complete control."

Her hair being blond, I could change the back ground to 5P if the hair
was the focal point, and therefore create a complementary color scheme
to match her hair. It is amazing what you can do with the book."

When I read this post about the model, it sounded like science to me
vs. art, doesn't it become mechancical and tedious? Is there ever any
just make it up to exaggerate.

I know I don't understand it all yet, but Graydon do you get to the
point where you are just seeing without the chips?

Marvin could mix his palette and check yours and know in less than a
second that something was off, without the need of a device. I am
guessing this is where Graydon is too.

I remember Bill telling us that Sargent walked a mile a day when he
did a portrait - back from his easel to look at his canvas and the
model together, are you walking two miles a day? Bill Whitaker (sorry
I forgot everyone might not know him...Ha) is so precise in his work
it's amazing, yet when I studied with him he was always investigating
new colors which I thought was kind of neat.(speaking of which, Bill
have you tried OH's Violet-Grey?)
Yet he did send out a palette of colors for the class.
Like all I have mentioned here, and many I havent, they can all catch
the drawing even if it's off by 1/16". Blows me away.

If you go to Liberaces home page: you will see
his painting of the guy who is bald and has a kind of strange beard.
Knowing his palette, I think it's pretty incredible how subtle the
colors look on him, he does all of this with exaggeration.

Just some thoughts from someone who has no idea what she is talking
about when it comes to color systems, but does know the meanings of
hue, chroma and value.

Dang, another short post! See I always wanted to be taller!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lets remove color for a second...

What of ink paintings as art? Do they sell? Rob Howard told me no, it would have to be only silver point, and here I am pray for some more of his briste ink which is awesome.

I love them and they are affordable for the person who might not be able to purchase and oil.

I thought it was interesting, when I was at the National Gallery they only had maybe 10 in a small room near the Degas gallery.

Toward a New Art

I am glad people are learning.

I will recount a story:

Michael Mazur is the most famous artist who has graduated from Amherst College, my alma mater.

I went to his lecture, where the audience was mostly PhD's. He proceeded to show the audience how he did "Air Drawings;" that is, he took a finger and drew circles and zig-zags in the air. Much like a child would play an "air guitar," that is, act like he is playing a real guitar, same gestures, etc., Mazur was drawing in the air. I looked about and all were completely serious, especially Mazur. No one questioned this, if it were art, not a snicker or a cough. At the end, applause all around.

Now for me, this story represents so much of the art world. We blindly follow anything or anyone under the rubric of art, or artist, without proof. If I told someone that their husband or wife were cheating, they would demand evidence. But if I tell you that this blank canvas or invisible object is art, or this color is the secret to impressionist painting, all blindly nod.

Art has replaced for many organized religions. It suffers from an even worse mysticism. Critics have become the high priests, and few question the current dogma for fear of being ostracized. No style is immune from it, although realism is, for the most part grounded in visual facts and a step toward critical thinking. But realism, as I have seen, has its own tendencies to be swayed by unreliable techniques and formulas. There are painting gurus who offer little in the way of clear explanations. Just paint what you see is the mantra. The present disregard of Munsell, a quite rational approach to color, is another example. Many prefer just to "feel" color instead. This is the "Jesus Take the Wheel" kind of thinking. Somehow, all will work out if the god of art is channeled.

The only way to begin to get out of the morass of 20th century art thinking is by logic. We need to ask why a Polka-Dot by Damien Hirst is any better than one by another painter when the results are interchangeable. We also need to ask why painting cannot be learned through reason. Every other discipline benefits from it, from medicine to music. (how was the musical scale invented in the first place.) We need to honestly appraise the art of the past and through out our idols if they don't measure up. No matter how you spin it, is Renoir that much of a better painter than Henri Martin or Le Sidaner? Why does he enjoy the art shrine and they don't? Should a Peter Doig sell for more than an Ingres? Not in a rational world.

Aristotle believed that we can indeed trust our senses. What we see is what we see. No amount of posturing, goading (or brain washing) should affect the mind of a person who trusts his senses, observes, thinks and concludes. Art will benefit and change for the better when we learn to question our assumptions, reject useless formulas, replace received ideas with up to date data, and, finally, have the courage to think for ourselves.

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's UP?

Is anyone else getting as confused as I am about what to post where and which post to comment on if there are repeated in two different places?

Is the google site going to be the catch all - or is Graydon's new one going to take all the art stuff and put it all together?

Thanks for any clarification.


A New Forum

I need suggestions for a new forum.

This Forum would be dedicated to using critical thinking, reason and observation, with testable results and apply them to art.
It would be invitation only and cover the following subjects

Art History
Art Criticism
Product Reviews

This would primarily be self-monitoring because anyone who values critical thinking resists personal attacks. Anything flagged as objectionable could be rewritten by its author for clarity and to eliminate any misconstrued statements.

Also, no talking too far off topic. If another's art is discussed, it will be discussed with great respect. Objections or critiques will be offered with well though out reasons as to why etc.

All ideas will be welcome as long as they are thought out. All styles will be considered as long as they are explained and are based on clear principles.

I would hope that a forum that really addresses art without the usual instability and posturing will attract professional painters and very serious students.

I like the name Art and Reason. However, Rational Color is still viable as are any number of ideas: National Art Review, Art and Critical Thinking, etc.

Please help.

Manganese Blue I am not crazy. I hit the highest chromas on both 7.5B 5/10 and 10B 5/12. I didn't do 5B or 2.5BG but can if anyone really wants me to. The 10B was the one that gave me the real trouble 2 summers ago. I photographed them here in 4 different light sources. I white balanced for each enviornment, and only cropped and adjusted contrast and brightness in photoshop. My recipies for the two are:

10B 5/12:
2 parts Manganese Blue (OH)
1 part zinc white (Utrecht) (or nanowhites-SP)
1 part Windsor Blue Green Shade (WN)

7.5B 5/10:
2 Parts Manganese Blue (OH)
1 part zinc white (Utrecht) (or nanowhites-SP)
1/3 part Windsor Blue Green Shade (WN)
1 part Turq. Blue (Holbein) [It is a form of PB35 but I found very very helpful when I did my color wheel the first time and for hitting all the high chromas around the BG range]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gamblin Paints

I added a link to Gamblin because 1. They offer some nice modern organics at a reasonable price and 2. They address some aspect of Munsell.

The problem here is that their Munsell notations are just approximate. Also, they muddle them up with the terms warm and cool instead of neutral vs. chromatic. Warm and cool are too vague to be of much use to the painter.

Monday, October 8, 2007

the Ultimate Colorist Palette

Now, I hate the dichotomy imposed that distinguishes the righteous colorists from the stale tonalist painters. It is, rather, an outlook in my opinion; that is, what aspect of nature moves one painter versus another is a matter of taste. Its personal.
One can either pursue nature, try to reproduce it fully, or alter its appearance in some way. A colorist, at least in the impressionist sense of the word, replaces the actual appearance of nature with his or he subjective style, changing this or that, limiting values and enhancing reflections. Most keep their chromas rather low, like Monet. Others, like Soralla, seem to heighten their chromas a lot more. For me, nature is the utmost guide. But I do change the appearance of things to fit my artistic outlook as well.

That said, the following palette represents the full gamut of paint. (only around 17 pigments ) All, and I mean all miracles, styles, of any outlook can be achieved with this palette since it represents painted color space. Now, its not a palette of convenience. One can add anything else for ease of mixing. But to subtract any of this is to compromise, for the most part, what can be painted.

The Rational Color blog, which I hope will become a separate forum, was created to expand and better understand this range in order to revive art training, obviate nonsense and irrationality in the contemporary art world, and grow the possibilities of oil paint as an expressive and considered medium.

The Gamut of Oil Paint Palette.

Napthol Red
Perylene Red
Cadmium Orange
Hansa Yellow Medium
Hansa Yellow Light or Cadmium Lemon (Yellow Light) (Note these seem interchangeable)
Pthalo Green (Yellow Shade)
Pthalo Blue
Manganese Blue (Genuine) (occasional and only for one hue)
Ultramarine Blue
Diox Purple
Manganese Purple
Quinacridone Rose

Alizarin Crimson permanent (the single pigment variety made by Windsor and Newton) or
Pyrrol Ruby (a good replacement for the above )
Burnt Sienna ( for extra chroma in the YR range)
Burnt Umber
Ivory Black (this is the darkest value available in paint)
Titanium White (this is the lightest value available in paint)

One can see if the following help in rare occasions:
Pthalo Blue (red or green shades)
Phthalo Green (green shade)

The red shade seemed to make little difference when I tried it.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Color Wheel in progress

(Sorry if this appears twice...blogger had an error and wouldn't publish the first one...says it's a draft in post listings. Hopefully I can remember what I wrote the first time!)

Here is the latest version of my color wheel.

I've added the 2.5 and 7.5 chips, as well as, the Munsell chips - trying to see where I'm off. I'll have to re-do a few. One of the purples dried too light and one of the greens doesn't look right here...maybe I picked up the wrong chips - or actually maybe I just didn't hit the target! One of the RP is 3/8 instead of the full chroma...don't know how that happened!

I really wish I had mixed enough of these to tube!!! Then that would be over. However, I did write on the back of each chip it's Munsell notation and the pigments used. (also on paper)

The chips inside the circle are pigments straight from the tube, with a bit of white added for darker colors. They are placed at random, but close to their families. I'll check all of them with the Munsell Book and find their correct placement later, as well as notate everything on the board.

Any advise???

For those of you attempting this project...keep's an eye opening experience to say the least!
(When I see this wheel from a distance is nearly moves...vibrates like it's going to whirl off!)

No Hurt Feelings.

This Blog was created to discuss Ideas. An idea about color should rest on its own merit and be provable. We should maintain the highest standards of critical thinking, since, after all, we want to learn and improve. Argumentation, the discourse to achieve this goal, is not about posturing or name calling, but about reasoning.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Other Color Methods. Controlled Palettes of the Past, Etc.

Post other palettes here.

Another way to say "apple".

On the left, shadows were created with sap green with the cadmium red medium local color of the ball. Highlights were created with white. At right, the same ball shadowed with alizarin crimson and manganese violet, and highlighted analogously with cadmium red light, cadmium orange and white.

Something I came across while reading:

"Back in the nineteenth century, artists were just beginning to become acquainted with the bright, bold colors handed to them by the new science of pigment chemistry. The Impressionists began to experiment with new ways of portraying color and light. Here's our painterly colorist contemplating his apple: "Why darken that apple across the color wheel toward it's complement, leaving me with dull and lifeless neutrals, when by moving around the color wheel, I can achieve a shadowed value while maintaining vibrant color (chroma) ?"

Starting with local color, say cadmium red medium, our Impressionist grabs his brush and begins to darken it with..alizarin crimson! Even darker with manganese violet! Encouraged now, the artist highlights the opposite side with cadmium red light, cadmium orange, and cadmium yellow. Suddenly that apple explodes with color."

I really felt this was somewhat of an example of a painter trying to maintain high chroma in their painting. They were tired of dark, old pictures. This artist was not using strings of chroma of a single hue, as Graydon teaches us, but, he was thinking.

I was wondering if we could post pictures that show how we used to paint with color strings, and then the same object done in string chromas? I think that people who visit this blog would "get it" a bit quicker when they see examples of how absolutely beautiful their painting can be, as they learn and apply what they learn from Graydon's Color Wheel and Painting System. They could see the difference between how they are currently using color, and the difference Graydon's discovery produces.

Moving from left to right, in these three balls, only the intensity/chroma has changed, not the value. (Don't you love what the correct chroma string can do to a simple object?)

* Above picture from Color Theory Made Easy - Jim Ames

Thursday, October 4, 2007


After Neal's excellent advise and finally receiving a good phthalo blue and phthalo green, I decided to revisit those hues on my wheel. I did several of them over. The greener shade of phthlo green really makes a difference, however...

...the 5B6/10 is just giving me fits! I've tried just about everything and the chroma just won't go high/clean enough. Is this the one that needs the genuine manganese? or those nano whites? I've tried Titanium and Zinc - please help!

(I'd hate to have an open spot on the wheel or fall back to the 5B4/10 that I used initially.)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Irrational color?

First of all, Rich asked me to come here and contribute simultaneously with my request to him to be a part of "Rational Color." I liked the word rational based on my experiences with various forums.

I made an innocent remark stating why I don't like the values that Munsell set forth because his values need to reach beyond beyond oil pigments. Then Beth asked me to post an image of my color mixing target. Now all of a sudden I'm trying to dethrone Graydon? Isn't the point here to rationally discuss color as it relates to Munsell's color notation?

I'm not Graydon, I'm Marvin! Even though we were both schooled in the Reilly tradition we have both since moved on. Munsell is a system for communicating color. That's it baby. Graydon thinks that by matching chips you'll learn about the mechanics of color and I totally agree. Ultimately you may even be able to communicate a specific color over the phone to someone in Bombay (the whole point of Munsell BTW: universal color language.) Graydon's system seems to be something someone can do with online instruction. My method is much more effectively communicated live, with me demonstrating, in a class or workshop environment. Check my website for up and coming workshops if it sounds like fun.

I use HVC to identify what I am seeing in preparation for replicating it in pigment. Many things come into play here, the most important being what a specific color looks like in the context of my painting. When I put my color choice down I use the HVC model to adjust it accordingly, where necessary. Ultimately, I am interested in the manipulation of all the components in my painting to create a greater illusion of form, life, space and light and not really interested in copying color, be it over the phone or in front of my nose.

I'm interested in color as a component of painting and not an end in itself. Painting goes far beyond color matching but I do think Graydon's exercises are valuable for learning about color. I feel the way I teach color can also lead to color mastery although I don't use amped up full chroma colors. I use an earth based color range that replicates the color choices of my hero, William McGregor Paxton arranged according to Reilly values.

My colors are:

Flesh Painting Colors:
W&N Terra Rosa
OH Yellow Ochre Light
W&N Indian Red
W&N Ivory Black
W&N Raw Umber
Flake White

Colors to round out the palette:
OH Vermillion Extra or MH Vermillion
W&N Burnt Sienna
W&N Perm. Alizarin Crimson
W&N Viridian
W&N French Ultramarine Blue
MH Genuine Naples Yellow Light

I first choose the hue (which tube of color shall I use), adjust the value (do I make it lighter or darker than the way it comes out of the tube, and what do I add to achieve this), and then I neutralize or intensify the chroma).
Beth, you took a workshop with me five years ago and many things have evolved since then, including the colors on my palette. Scott, I've had many Scotts in my class. Which one are you?

Color Wheel in progress

Here's most of my color wheel put together. Still waiting on new reds and more white.

I've used Handitak to adhere the chips to the board, so I can move them around as I make corrections. I've also taken off the smaller chips I made of the 2.5 and 7.5 cousins...just too much info. right now.

The rectangles inside the wheel are straight paint from the tubes that I've use often or have used in the past. One end is straight paint - mixed with white at the other. Black/burnt umber/raw umber and 'grey of gray' from Holbein are at the bottom right corner...don't know what to do with those yet.

The solid rectangles are all different types and brands of Naples Yellow - used a lot in the past to 'kill' chroma. Not sure what to do with those either.

My next step will be to compare my paint chips with the Munsell chips and try to guess their appropriate place. Values of the paint is throwing me off. Some are so dark, like Mars Violet or Phthalo green, or Trans. Oxide Red...that's why I added the white, so I could see where they actually fit...but that may have been a mistake.

Still trying to figure out how to record the mixes for the main chips.

(used some old press type for the lettering and numbers - but ran out!!)

Please advise.

PS: I really want to concentrate on Graydon's method of using Munsell and the practice of classical realism. I know Marvin is a wonderful painter and I look forward to his posts. Perhaps he has practical shortcuts that will be advantageous to consider later on. However, I need to know and practice what Graydon knows - that's why I joined this blog.

For Neal, with apologizes to Marvin...from a student

Neal I wish I knew where the orginials for these photos maybe hiding, I know I have them somewhere and then I could make them much easier to view.

I don't know if Scott wants to chime in here as a student like myself, but there are so many of the same things from what little I know of Graydon's system.

For students Marvin's is simple. There are no chips because he limits his skin palette to very few colors:

Mixture of titanium and flake, ivory black and raw umber for the neutral greys.

His complextion colors (again for students - no telling the magic he spins), are Yellow Ochre , Yellow Ochre light, Terra Rosa and Indian Red.

Also on your set palette or not... I think this comes once a student get's control of above, he told me often that I didn't get it and maybe below is why:

Naples yellow, burnt sienna , raw umber for neutralizing reds, ultramarine blue, vermillian hue (cadmium scarlet -gawd forbid :) - and viridain.

Outdoors he adds a cerulean blue, he also mentions a cad yellow light and permanetn alizarian Crimson.

It seems that he makes sure that the values come first and using his neutrals help contol the hue and chroma.
Now I have pretty much paraphrased a workshop sheet so I know better insight can be added.

I don't know if you can tell he isn't very found of cads! :)

I also think he has humbled himself as Graydon would. I know Marvin has spent years perfecting HIS set palette and theory, it does go back to those Art League guys, but it is soley his and he should take credit when credit is due. It is the Mattelson palette - not to be confused with the Masterson box, which I was LOL... but he will likely tell you I am confused about many things here.

:) Beth

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Color mixing target

Okay, here it is. This target is slipped under a piece of plate glass, usually in a masterson palette box. The values can be matched to the "piano keys" on the bottom. This way my students can easily mix up their color strings.

Monday, October 1, 2007

In the eye of the beholder?

As I promised Richard, I will tread lightly...
Many of you might have had the great advantage of learning these things first hand, but I must apologize since I did not.

Also, I have formerly approached color theory systems from my graphics background, which is pretty much a whole other ball-game - all though I believe that Munsell was likely very involved with the creation of the Pantone Matching System for Offset and sheet fed printers.

After reading about Scott's writing to the producer of the Chart PDF and how to get it printed, it just kept playing over and over in my mind, that when you get down to learning this system - it is beyond detailed - so other than having a Richard, Marvin or Graydon holding your hand - isn't the match of color critical?

This lead me to a question, likely pertaining to graphics more, but doesn't it still apply that you are only as good as your equipment? In this case with the printing of a chart, it would include calibrated monitors, printer but most importantly the eyes of the pre-press operator. Color is in the eye of the beholder, right!

I am sure most are very familiar with this publication, but I found this piece of equipment to be really interesting, excluding the the densitometers etc for lithographers there is this simple...

"Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test", which basically tells you who you are trusting. Taking it to far? Bogus waste of time? I was just interested in your thoughts.

I will try to move my mindset to painting only.

The test is described as follows:

"This easy-to-administer test is a highly effective method for measuring an individual’s color vision. Used by governments and industry for over 40 years, the test is used to evaluate and rank color acuity. The test consists of four trays containing a total of 85 removable color reference caps (incremental hue variation) spanning the visible spectrum. Color vision aptitude is detected by the ability of the test subject to place the color caps in order of hue. "

Slight monkey-wrench

I have been using the Munsell color model for almost thirty years. I became aware of it when I first began to explore the possibility of trying to do painting, about ten years after leaving art school. I had been so traumatized by the lack of technical instruction at the Phila. College of Art, now called the University of the Arts, that I was absolutely convinced I'd never be able to paint.

Somehow I garnered the courage to give it a shot and while exploring what paint to buy I became intrigued with a new paint product: Liquitex Modular Colors, based on Munsell notation. Rather than standard color names these paints came labeled according to their hue, value and chroma. I started using these paints and achieved good results almost right away. It forced me to think in terms of relative values and within a year I was painting illustrated covers for Time Magazine.

About ten years after I started painting I began a decade long, once-a-week, study with John Murray, a former student of Frank Reilly's. The HVC mindset I had been utilizing meshed perfectly with the Reilly methodology since he too used Munsell as his starting point. What I really liked best about Reilly's approach was that he adapted the Munsell value range to bridge the gap between black and white pigment. This made more sense, to me, since we painters are working with pigments. Munsell used theoretical black and whites since he wanted to be able to classify color for all types of industry and not just limit his system for artistic purposes. According to MUnsell, Ivory Black is value 1.5 and Titanium White is value 9.5.

My value 5 falls halfway between black and white pigment and is a true middle value, paint-wise. Munsell value 5 falls at value 4 on my chart and is too dark resulting in compressed dark value steps.

I hope this all makes sense.
I wrote to Professor Irtel at Mannheim University to ask about the Munsell Poster Scott found in his Munsell search.
I received his reply this morning:

Dear Professor Irtel,
>Someone sent me a link to your Munsell Color notations poster.
> I am a painter here in the US (Colorado) and am presently working with the Munsell Color system in my paintings to realize more accurate color. I recently acquired the two volume set of color chips and was so excited to see this poster with all the notations on one sheet. Though I am just beginning to understand Munsell and mixing the correct hue/value/chroma with my oil paints, this could be a wonderful tool to glance at when standing at the easel.
>Not being very computer literate, I wonder if this poster has actually been printed or is it all computer generated?
>If it has been printed, is it possible to acquire several copies of this beautiful piece? I would appreciate any information you can give me.
>Thank you for your time and I look forward to your reply.

Sorry, it has not been printed, but you can take this file and bring it to a graphics or copy shop which is able to print A0 format from a file. A valid print, however, requires that the printing system is well calibrated. Otherwise the Munsell notations on the poster will not be valid.

Best regards,

H. Irtel

Anyone know a good printer with calibrated system?