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Old 05-03-2004, 08:50 AM   #1
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Tell me about your grays




I'd like to hear about the grays you mix and use for tempering flesh colors. I use three basic grays: black and white mixed in a string from dark to light; raw umber and white mixed in a string from dark to light, and a mix of about two thirds raw sienna and one third black lightened with white. It makes a curious greenish gray.

Sometimes, I also use a bit of cobalt or viridian and sometimes a touch of ultramarine blue.

But here's the rub, for me, at least. I often don't have a clear idea of which gray, blue or green to use, especially out there on the lighter end when, for example, I'm trying to alter a very light flesh tone.

I get quite similar results with the raw umber or black and white mixes -- either seems to produce a silvery look in the lighter values.
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Old 05-03-2004, 04:31 PM   #2
Allan Rahbek Allan Rahbek is offline
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I find that using colors that are close to the desired color is the easy way.

To mix a gray I use Raw Umber and Flake White. To get it greenish, use a dab of Raw Sienna or Yellow Ocher. To get it colder, use Ivory Black or Ultra Marine. To make it warmer use the Red Ocher from your skin color.

I know that you can mix the same colors with the spectral colors and get some interesting grays - but can you do it again ?

Allan
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Old 05-03-2004, 07:32 PM   #3
Jean Kelly Jean Kelly is offline
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Opposites attract

Blue and orange, yellow and violet, green and red and it's play time. I love to experiment.

Jean
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Old 03-12-2005, 02:47 PM   #4
Richard Budig Richard Budig is offline
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Those pesky grays, again

I'd love to read a thousand replies dealing with your grays, or your neutralizing methods, and the paint you use to do the job.

I've run into Sanden's "neutrals," which are basically black, white and yellow ocher in combinations that produce three values (3, 5, and 7).

I've run into the combination of black and raw sienna, lightened with white, and the simpler raw umber, lightened with white, and, finally, plain old black, lightened with white.

And then, there is the graying technique of using complements.

It may seem picky, but how too-brilliant colors are toned down is immensely important, and these grays are all different

Can anyone add to my knowedge on this subject?
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Old 06-09-2005, 09:39 AM   #5
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Possible help on grays

Richard,

I know you posted this a couple of months ago. I am new to the forum but, as far as I can see, no one has responded. Personally I think greys are fascinating. It really does matter how you make them.

I think the key is that a painting must hold together in terms of color. I always start by asking myself what color the light is in that particular painting, because the light is what generates all color. There is direct light, and then there is indirect light that bounces around in the atmosphere, and there is shadow. If you identify the color of the light, then the indirect light will be slightly redder, and the shadow will be a complement of the indirect light.

For example:
Light=pale whitish yellow, atmosphere=deep yellow, shadow=violet.
Light=yellow, atmosphere=orange, shadow=blue.
Light=orange, atmosphere=red, shadow=green.

Of course there are many subtle variations. The point is, you can make grey by mixing the atmosphere color with the shadow color. I have found that intense colors like cadmiums and deep blues, purples and thalo green work better because they can be used full strength to add depth to the shadows (see my post on deep blacks in this section) or lightened to make any shade and temperature of grey. If you make grey this way, you can also mix varying amounts into colors to push things back from the picture plane. The beauty is that you can use a mixture consistently throughout the painting, thus unifying the color, and that it makes total sense in terms of the light-shadow relationship in that painting.

I incorporate this theory into my teaching, and my students feel that it makes sense as well as producing beautiful light and depth in the shadows.

I try to stay away from using formulas because they can't possibly work for every painting unless you work only in your studio, in one light, and you find that certain combinations tend to work. I also do not use black and earth tones such as yellow ochre to make grey because these colors are opaque, and I am interested in transparency. Also, if you mix grey from complementary colors, you can vary the temperature simply by varying the proportion of warm to cool.
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Old 06-10-2005, 08:58 PM   #6
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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Richard and Alexandra,

Alexandra, I think you have posted one of the most succinct descriptions I've seen on the nature of grays and color temperatures.

I will also use a combination of complementary mixed grays ( based on Steven Quiller's comprehensive research), as well as the neutral grays. (Not to be redundant in the Department of the Redundancy Department).

I use a hybrid of neutrals somewhere between Daniel Greene's and Bill Whitaker's palettes:

A warm neutral: raw sienna and black, about 6:1

A cool neutral: Grumbacher's ( brand specific, it's cooler) raw umber

And a neutral neutral: Gamblin's Asphaltum

A little flake white will show the dramatic temperature differences each will yield.
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Old 06-11-2005, 02:17 PM   #7
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Chris,

Thanks for calling my description "succinct!" I actually spent a long time composing it, trying to think out exactly how to say what I wanted to say, so I'm glad it made some sense.

I admire your work very much and I think you achieve beautiful and lifelike color. I checked in the "palettes" section and read more about your palette. You've made a couple of references to Steven Quiller's color theory and I wonder if you could point me to some reference material on the subject?

Thanks,

Alex
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Old 06-11-2005, 04:08 PM   #8
Chris Saper Chris Saper is offline
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Stephen Quiller's "Color Choices" is a wonderful and logical book on color theory.

He chooses primary and secondary colors based on true complements direct from the tube. For each medium of watercolor, oil and acrylic, he provides exhaustive charts, with manufacturers as the columns and colors (as well as different names manufacturers give equivalent colors) as the rows.

For example, Winsor Newton's Cad Lemon is the true complement of Holbein's Permanent Mauve; Winsor Blue is the true complement of Winsor Newton Cad Scarlet, etc.

You'll also find for example, that among the seven manufacturers he identifies for oil paints, five make a permanent violet: Winsor Newton's Winsor Violet, equivalent to Rembrandt's Permanent Red Violet, and so forth.

You can order Color Choices through Cynthia's bookstore.

In addition you can get a terrific color wheel from Stephen, although one is included in the book.
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Old 06-12-2005, 06:55 PM   #9
Alexandra Tyng Alexandra Tyng is offline
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Chris,

Thanks so much for the info on Steven Quiller's book. You've sold me on it!

Alex
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Old 08-18-2005, 08:57 AM   #10
Brenda Ellis Brenda Ellis is offline
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Richard,
I wonder how you are going with your journey into grays?

I am at that point myself. I am trying various grays (or is it neutrals?); trying the opaque umber/black/white combo, the more transparent Chris Saper combos (by the way, Chris, i'm reading your book and it's great, very informative), and the mud combos. But I'm not trying the mud combos on purpose.

I am finding, as Alexandra so succinctly stated, that it depends on the effect I want and the kind of painting I am doing or what colors are in my painting. It is all a bit overwhelming, but at the same time exciting. There are so many options! I worry about getting stuck in the idea that there are right answers and wrong answers. So, I have made myself a neutral chart with colors and I have a gray scale made with black, raw umber and white. I'm finding I really have to Plan Plan Plan before I paint. This is slowing me down quite a bit right now. But eventually I think it will pay off.

Anyway, Richard, I would be interested to know what you have found out for yourself about grays and what has worked best for you.
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