Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Meet the Family

"Family is not an important thing. It's everything."
Michael J. Fox

Hooray! The builders have finished, (well, almost). So, now not only do I have peace and quiet again, I have a lovely new glass roof on the conservatory that lets in tonnes of light. Just now I am debating whether or not to have my first workshops of the year in there. Can't wait to welcome the students.

So, with all that done with it's time to make the most of a home to myself, and get on with this bramble. The leaves are up next and as usual, I have added lots of characteristic nibble holes and raggedy edges. Debate still rages on the question of adding the culprit for the holes, Sammy Snail but we shall proceed regardless for the time being.

Dark, cool greens, warm yellowy highlights and lots of tones in between make these a tougher challenge than on first appearance.

The young leaves look especially fresh and 'spring green'. 

This is an important piece for me and I really want to make sure I get the greens and shadow colours right. Recently this aspect was explained to me, and referred to as the, 'family of greens', (base colours, highlights and shadow tones within the subject). This made perfect sense as too easily we can fall into the trap of using our favourite green mixes for a subject rather than the right colours that are unique to the subject. Although this sounds obvious, it is easily done, and I must admit that in the early days of my botanical painting I have fallen too easily for this one, and regretted it.

"The family is one of nature's masterpieces."

George Santayana

The result, of course is never really convincing, so now whenever I tackle a predominantly green subject, I make a chart of colour swatches. There will likely be other colours involved, such as cool and warm blues, yellows and, on decaying or damaged leaves, reds and browns. So I feel a colour chart coming on.

The Family of Greens

The greens for my bramble leaves have been mixed using transparent colours, having moved away from opaque and semi-transparent colours such as the cadmiums a while ago. As stated, a palette of cool and warm blues, yellows and reds will give the full spectrum of tones and highlights, making for complex, multi-layered leaves. Well, that's the theory.

For the cool greens I'm using Anthraquinone Blue, Leon (or Azo) Yellow and Anthraquinoid Red
For the warm greens I'm using Trans Yellow and Quinacridone Gold with Ultramarine Blue and Perylene Maroon

The cool highlights use Cerulean with Lemon whilst the warm are Trans Yellow and Ultramarine
A wash of Cobalt here and there cools a highlight whilst a wash of Trans Yellow warms them up
The colour chart begins
of course a lot of these mixes will have to be used at strength, but I am quite pleased with the range 

Further reading

Tasty Tips on Tackling Leaves

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