Tag Archives: art tips

How to Choose a Color Palette

When it comes to painting, no two artists seem to agree on how to choose a color palette. After all, painting is subjective as it reflects the temperament of the artist and his or her own color sense. A student or newcomer to painting is often left scratching their head as to what colors are best. It’s then compounded by so many choices as to brands of paint. This post hopefully will adequately address both issues.

how to choose a color palette

COLOR SELECTION

When choosing a palette it should be capable of producing vivid mixtures of all 12 hues on the color wheel.
Basic color theory states that the 3 primaries of yellow, red and blue when intermixed will produce all other colors. Then along with white and black to produce tints and shades of those color is all that’s needed. In reality that’s not the case. What we often think of as being a primary yellow, red and blue from our childhood school days will not produce all the hues on a color wheel to their full spectrum of intensity.

A BETTER CHOICE ON HOW TO CHOOSE A COLOR PALETTE

In printing, inks used to reproduce a color image are yellow, cyan and magenta. Just like your printer at home. Paints closely matching this would be Cadmium Yellow Light or Pale, Permanent Rose or Quinacridone Rose and Phthalo Blue. The intensity of the secondary colors when mixing any two of these primary colors is much improved.

So are these 3 colors enough to produce a full spectrum range? Not really. It can further be improved by adding a purchased premixed color corresponding to one of the secondary colors in the green, violet and orange range. Which ones? The colors of choice are: Ultramarine Blue (For blue violet), Phthalo Green or Winsor Green (For blue green) and Cadmium Scarlet Red. (For Red orange) Alternatively you could use Cadmium Red Light. Adding Titanium White and either Ivory or Oxide black and you have a basic set of 6 colors plus white and black.

To get the most intensity, mix your primary with one of these tubed colors to get your remaining secondary and tertiary colors. For example to get green you normally mix yellow and blue. In this set up you mix the yellow with the Phthalo Green. Cadmium Yellow Light added to Scarlet Red will produce vivid oranges. Permanent Rose added to ultramarine blue will produce vivid violets.

The List of Basics

  • Cadmium Yellow Light or Pale (yellow)
  • Permanent Rose or Quinacridone Rose (red)
  • Phthalo Blue (Blue)
  • Cadmium Scarlet Red (Red Orange)
  • Ultramarine Blue (Blue Violet)
  • Phthalo Green or Winsor Green (Blue Green)
  • Titanium White
  • Ivory or Oxide Black

Likely you will not be painting with such vivid colors. To dull the intensity you mix their compliments. In theory those colors are opposite on the color wheel. Sometimes when working with these pigments a compliment that is not directly across may produce a more pleasing result. This is where actually taking your paint and mixing colors is beneficial. If you were a hair stylist you couldn’t call yourself one if you never cut hair. You can’t rely on the work of others. You have to do the work yourself. Mix your own colors. Learn how they interact as you mix. Stop relying on all those printed color wheels and charts. Make your own.

In time, you can add other colors to this basic set. I like having a variety such as the various earth tones in the dull orange and brown ranges such as Burnt Sienna or Transparent Oxide Red and Burnt Umber. Some colors have unique pigments and the way they behave in a mixture can’t be duplicated with this basic set. So having some optional colors expands your color range. In time you will find which colors fit your own aesthetics.

Brands of Paint

Just as deciding on which colors to buy, choosing within what brands can also be daunting from the amount of choices. In my opinion, buy the best you can afford. Price is a pretty good indicator as to quality. Good paints produce better color mixtures. I enjoy some colors in one brand as opposed to the same in another.

In the following link a rather extensive review is given regarding many of the popular brands of paint with pros and cons. I agree (for the most part) with statements on this site. Again it boils down to a personal choice. I hope this will give you a good starting point when it comes to choosing your palette of colors and the available brands of paint that are out there. Happy color mixing!

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Benefits of Painting a Still Life

You’re the Conductor!

What are the benefits of painting a still life? This question came back to mind while preparing paintings for my exhibit at the Winnsboro Art & Wine Festival. The show wouldn’t be complete without having a painting or two featuring the fruit of the vine (grapes) which I show here done by my alter ego Byron. A nice departure from my landscapes. There are several benefits of painting a still life and right off the bat you get to be the conductor of your painting!

still life oil painting with grapes vase candle by Byron

My Little Vase 12×9 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Unlike landscapes you get to have total control over the lighting, color harmony and the subject matter. For landscapes you’re at the mercy of the weather. Many times I’ve wished for sunlight but instead overcast skies with no sign of them leaving anytime soon. Or hoping for brilliant fall foliage only to get dull shades of burnt orange or worse, no leaves on the trees! That brings us to another benefit: Timing!

No Timing Constraints; More Benefits of Painting a Still Life

Another advantage of painting a still life is that there are no time constraints. Unless of course you’re on a deadline to complete a painting or if you’re painting flowers and they’ve started to wilt or the fruit is starting to rot then that’s yucky. In which case you might be painting a little too slow. But, aside from those an artist can orchestrate a simple or complex composition as he or she wishes and study the scene at leisure with all it’s intricacies of color, light and shadow as it describes the various forms.

Since the scene is set and unmovable an artist will have ample time to work on drawing from life, which is an invaluable skill as opposed to seeing a flat image (photo) and drawing from it.

Still life paintings are also beneficial in that the objects form is more readily discernible. These forms are often oval, rectangular, cylindrical, cone shaped or combinations. These same geometric forms underlie objects in the landscape. If you learn to properly shade these forms in a still life with a single source of light, you will better understand how to shade other objects whose structure incorporates these various forms in the landscape.

still life oil painting with raku vase grapes orange by Byron

Raku Vase 9×12 oil by Byron copyright 2016

Communicating a Theme

Another benefit of painting a still life, is being able to communicate a story. But, does that mean that all the objects have to relate to one another? If you wish for a rustic theme, does it mean you have to leave out something elegant or vice versa? No! As long as the theme visually harmonizes and creates interest.  As an example here is a frame style combination that is both rustic and elegant. So they can work together, just as in a still life!

frame corner style of rustic and elegance

Rustic and Elegant frame style

The benefits of painting a still life are valuable both to the newbie artist and a good reminder to someone like me who hasn’t tried their hand at a still life in sometime. I have to say it was a lot of fun! Plus, I was able to render each of these still life paintings in one alla prima painting session. (All at once) Perhaps one day I will do a William Hagerman signature still life painting!

Would love to hear your thoughts about my still life work? As the Winnsboro show approaches I’ll be posting more of the art to be in the exhibit. Thanks for reading!

One last reminder before I go, is my latest eBay auction work going on now until 6PM Pacific Time on Tuesday October 18th. Fall is in the air in this mountain setting. Inspired by a trip near Trinidad, Colorado.

The Call of Autumn 9x12 oil by Byron for eBay auction

The Call of Autumn 9×12 oil by Byron for eBay auction

You can access the auction from my eBay profile page.

 

 

 

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How to Paint Bluebonnets

How to paint bluebonnets is the the focus here in part 4 of my oil painting demo series of posts on painting a Texas bluebonnet landscape.

First, I want to show the completed painting. This will give you an idea of where the painting is going. Click on the image for a larger view.

bluebonnet oil painting by William "Byron" Hagerman

I set the stage for the bluebonnets by putting in the grasses working from back to front. I darken the values as I come forward.

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Next I work to cover the rest of the canvas. I’m not focusing heavily on details at this point, just getting my under-painting done. For some of the textures of the grasses I like to use an old jagged edged bristle fan brush.

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After the paint dries I then move on to massing in the bluebonnets with a dark value of blue based off of Ultramarine. I departed somewhat in my traditional mixture by adding Indanthrene Blue by Winsor & Newton into the mix. Since bluebonnets lean towards blue violet I also add in some Dioxine Purple or add Permanent Rose or Alizarin for variety.

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I continue with my dark mix for the bluebonnets, working out a pattern that leads the eye back into the painting.

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After this layer dries I start adding lighter values for the bluebonnets working from the back to front.

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Here’s a detail of the bluebonnets.

how to paint bluebonnets

Another up close view of the painted bluebonnets.

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Once I finished all the bluebonnets I proceeded to other areas of the painting that needed the finish work such as the big tree, rocks, and cactus and a little bit of cutting back into the bluebonnets here and there with the grass color. I wanted to make sure they didn’t look as though they were floating and make the pattern more pleasing and believable.

The following are up close sections so you can see more of the finished detail. As you can see I’ve kept tight detail to a minimum. However, due to the size of the painting it looks more detailed than it really is. I first finish the pattern of the foliage with light dark and middle values. Then I add tree limbs. When dry I negative shape paint the sky holes, chiseling out the forms of limbs and further modifying the shape of the tree.

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Another patch of completed bluebonnets and surrounding vegetation and rocks.

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Detail of the middle ground cactus.

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Here’s the cactus in the foreground. Here you can see some individual bluebonnets scattered around although not haphazardly. I’m keeping my design in mind. These bluebonnets are a supportive role to the larger masses. Again on the topic of how to paint bluebonnets, notice how the bluebonnets have a dark value, followed by a lighter value and finally a white cap on top. It gives the flowers depth. Also some of the cactus stickers are hinted at. However, in the above image I have not added them except for a few catching the light. Why? They’re further away and your eye would not pick up that kind of detail. Plus the amount of detail has to be in proportion to the rest of the details in the painting. In other words, if your painting is more impressionistic would it make sense to add a bunch of tight detail on an object and leave the rest loosely painted. This might work on a close up view and keeping a background simple, but remember to keep your overall painting in mind and don’t get caught up in rendering details and loose focus on the whole. Every section has to relate to the other.

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Below is a detail section of rocks. Remember a rock is a shape. It has sides and how the rock is positioned in relation to the light you will have different values. If only two sides are visible you will have a a light and shadow area. The same is true if you can see three sides, but you will have three values at a minimum. Light, mid value and shadow.  Don’t put your sunlight colors in areas that are to be in shadow or put shadow colors in areas that are in the light. Colors in the light are warmer, those in shadow are cooler, but sometimes they can appear somewhat warmer due to a warm reflected light bouncing off other warm colored rocks in sunshine. You learn to paint rocks by studying them. No good substitute for observing them and paying attention to how the light describes their form.

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Here’s the detail area of the tree on the left and a view of the distant hills and lower sky. In painting the tree the sequence is establish the foliage first, them indicate limb structure and finally paint in the negative shapes on the sides of the limbs and other sky holes keeping in mind what’s in behind the tree. Often you will have to paint those values a little darker since they can appear to be stuck on top of the tree instead of being behind it. You can also modify the sky hole a little by overlapping it with some tree foliage.

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And finally here’s another close up view of the clouds in the right hand corner area. Again like any other shape a cloud has form to it and as such is subject to having light and shadow sides. Best way to learn to paint clouds is by actually studying them.

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I hope that these series of posts will benefit you in your own painting.  Have fun learning!

 

 

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Finding Artistic Inspiration

Whether one is an artist or not, sometimes we just feel uninspired and our creative side feels drained. There’s an abundance of ideas out there in combating this issue of finding artistic inspiration, but lacking any specific health issue’s that may contribute I wanted to focus on one solution to get your creative energy flowing again. What is that?

unplugged

In today’s world people are plugged in to their electronic media at work and leisure time and elsewhere and sometimes dangerously so. Although electronics like being plugged in, because they draw power which they need, humans don’t recharge that way. For the creative side it drains us of our creative energy. In my artist’s statement I have said when we experience the outdoors, we feel drawn to it, nurtured by it. Being outdoors to enjoy the beauty of nature does have a recharging effect. Studies are showing that disconnecting from our devices and getting outside in nature have shown improvements in creative tasks as opposed to those who were not.

There is so much intricate design in nature that it can’t help but stir creativity when you slow down enough to take a little of it in.

Recently we have been doing some yard work. Even in this confined area of a backyard I started to notice the possibility for a couple of small paintings. A subject that I had not really considered and that of painting flowers in an almost still life setting.  Here below are two small paintings showing how just being outside in my own backyard inspired these two paintings. Not that our backyard looks like this, but what flowers we did have was enough to inspire a little creativity and a departure from my regular subject matter.

Corner Garden

Corner Garden 6×6 oil painting by Byron copyright 2015

The Back Gate

The Back Gate 6×6 oil painting by Byron copyright 2015

So the next time you feel a little run down, try unplugging and get outdoors and start feeling the creative energy returning. Even if it’s in your own backyard! If you don’t have a backyard, try a local park. Look at the trees, the sky, flowers, whatever and let it rejuvenate you.

These two “backyard” nature inspired paintings were recently sold on my eBay auctions as were the nature inspired ones below!

Barn and Hay Bales

Barn and Hay Bales 6×6 oil by Byron copyright 2015

I enjoyed painting this little scene of a little barn with a row of honeysuckle growing in front and some round hay bales. Not sure what the name of the purple flowers were.

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Dos Yucca 6×6 oil by Byron copyright 2015

I liked the contrast of the yucca up against the dark of the tree behind them.

River Elegance Plein Air

Guadalupe River (River Elegance) plein air 8×10 acrylic and oil painting by William Hagerman revised copyright 2015

This was painted directly from life on location in the Texas Hill Country near Boerne, TX along the Guadalupe River. It had remained in my collection for some time, but is now in its new home.

You can access the auctions from my profile page. Any offerings will be displayed here.

Remember, bidding starts at a penny! Have a great day.

 

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How to Package an Oil Painting

brushes

If you sell your painting to an out-of-state buyer, chances are you’ll need to send the artwork by courier. Of course, this raises practical concerns. What is the best way to package an oil painting? Oil paintings are more susceptible to damage, especially if there are thick areas of the canvas covered with multiple layers of paint.

For this reason, we do not recommend rolling up your oil painting to send in a tube. This is OK for a poster or photographic print but taking an oil painting off its stretcher and rolling it increases the risk of damage. Oil paintings take a long time to dry and are more susceptible to damage from light, heat, humidity, dust and dirt. It’s just not worth risking damage to shave shipping costs, it’s a false economy. If you are on a budget it is best to send the item Economy or use a competitively priced courier service. Choose a professional courier, checking feedback scores and customer reviews as well as prices.

Points to Consider
Will you be sending a framed or unframed canvas? Finding the right balance can be tricky. You want to protect your painting without bulking up its weight.

As an oil painter, your top goal is to ensure your canvas does not get punctured. If your painting is worth a lot, you might want to take the work to a specialist packaging company that custom makes and builds crates for high-value artwork.

1

For the purpose of this post, here is a handy and quick guide on how to package an oil painting for shipping. Keep in mind this is a general, illustrative guide to packaging. The advice can be used for larger works scaling up to accommodate large oil paintings.

Materials Required:

  • Scissors or Stanley Knife( utility knife)
  • Packaging Tape
  • Heavy Duty Black Refuse/Garbage Bags
  • Foam Board
  • Foam sheet
  • Triple-ply cardboard

2

Wrap the Canvas in a Light Layer of Foam
Wrapping your canvas in a light layer of foam, will protect the painting from getting scratched or nicked during transit. Do not use too much foam as the corner protectors will not sit nicely on the edge of the frame. Tape the frame neatly in place as if you were wrapping a delicate gift.

3

Protect the Corners
Extra protection is always a good idea. Most packaging companies offer a range of corner protectors in plastic, foam or cardboard. With unframed oil canvases, it is best if you invest in foam edge and corner protectors. The foam protectors should fit snugly, but not too tightly. If your work is framed, you can use plastic or cardboard protectors. However, these will need to be placed on the frame first before wrapping it in a light layer of foam.

4

Seal from Moisture & Dust
Now that you’ve carefully wrapped your canvas in a light layer of foam and used the corner protectors, it’s time to seal the artwork from moisture and dust with plastic or a heavy duty black refuse/garbage bag. If the bag is significantly bigger than the frame, use a pair of scissors to trim the excess material.

5

Insulate the Canvas
To insulate the canvas you will need insulating foam. It may be difficult to locate insulating foam large enough to accommodate the size of your artwork. If so you may need to use multiple boards, carefully tapping them together to form a sandwich. If your artwork is on the smaller side, you will need to cut out two slabs of insulating foam. Trace the form of the artwork with your Stanley knife to cut out two artwork sized slabs of foam. Use each slab to sandwich the frame.

6

Now, tape the slabs in place as show in the photo. If you cannot access foam slabs, two to three layers of bubble wrap will be a sufficient replacement.

 

Customs Documents & Shipping Labels
When booking your courier service, most companies provide customs and shipping labels at time of booking. Of course, customs documents will not be necessary if you are sending from one US state to another state. However, if you are shipping abroad, you will need to double check any shipping restrictions for the recipient country. Most companies will auto generate custom forms and labels at time of booking. All you need to do is print these documents out and attach them to your package. It’s recommended if you are shipping abroad to include a duplicate copy inside the box.

7

Box the Artwork
Most packaging companies will wrap artwork with triple-ply cardboard for a custom fit. This also saves using parcel chips and bulking up the package. It’s fairly obvious the bulkier a package is the more you will have to pay to send it. You can achieve a custom fit with cardboard from a flattened box or a purchased sheet of cardboard.

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Wrapping the artwork is similar to wrapping a boxed gift, just with thicker materials. Score each side of the package, cutting in the corners, so the flaps can be gently folded and taped into place. Fold the flaps around the frame, and tape to secure.

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Seal the Artwork
Now, that you’ve wrapped the artwork and taped the cardboard in place; it’s time to seal it. Don’t worry if your package isn’t picture perfect. This isn’t an aesthetic exercise. It’s just needs to be secure, so you’ll need to seal the edges at least twice all the way round as show in the photo above.

Attach Labels and Documents
If there is any wording or bar-codes on the box, these will need to be removed, concealed or blacked out with a marker. This will avoid delays when the courier comes to collect. Attach all labels and custom documents carefully to the parcel.

While you may be tempted to roll your painting to save money, it’s not the best way to send oil paintings. You’ve spent hours perfecting your canvas, so why not use the very best packaging materials to safeguard your masterpiece? Your clients will thank you in the end.

This article was written by guest writer Heshaam Hague with Fastlane International, a comprehensive parcel delivery service company that specializes in sending small, large or heavy parcels by economy or express delivery to and from any country in the world.

 

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Making a Custom Illusion Frame

Part Two:

Continuing with the making of my custom illusion frame, I next painted a fleur di lis design in the four corners using a stencil. I used a lighter gold paint as well as a thin darker outline around the design for a little more contrast. If you missed part one you can read it here.

Custom Illusion frame step 6

Custom Illusion frame step 6

After the fleur di lis design was dry I covered this inner panel area with Folk Art brand acrylic antiquing medium by Plaid Enterprises using a soft cloth to give it a soft aged look. Once dry I masked off another one half inch space from the edge.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 7

Custom Illusion Frame Step 7

I apply acrylic gesso to the masked off section. Once dry I give it a light sanding, and followed with painting it solid black.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 8

Custom Illusion Frame Step 8

After taking off the masking I see that there has been a slight run of the acrylic paint. No problem, I just use some gesso and a small brush to clean up the edges in a few spots.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 9

Custom Illusion Frame Step 9

Next you can see the results of my efforts so far with my custom illusion frame. Remember to click on the photo for a larger view. The larger view for the photo below will show the frame with a side view.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 9 detail

Custom Illusion Frame Step 9

After this I mask off an additional one fourth of an inch extending from the black border which will give a white border around the finished painting. I also masked off the entire frame to protect it while I paint the landscape I have planed for it. I know it doesn’t look too pretty, but it works.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 10

Custom Illusion Frame Step 10

And finally here is the completed result with my impressionist “Byron” painting. So the frame and painting are all part of the art work. In part three of my next post I will share several photos of the painting as I worked on it.

Bluebonnet oil painting by Byron with a custom illusion frame

Completed Custom Illusion Frame with original painting by Byron

 

 

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Negative Shape Painting

Often when you think of something being negative, it’s not a good thing. However, in painting it is when it refers to negative shape painting. This was the subject of an art demo that I did for the Palette Club in Midland, TX.

Exactly what is a negative shape or space? It’s the space between and around a subject and not the subject itself. In simplistic terms it’s the silhouette of an object.

To illustrate the concept I used a black gessoed canvas and sculpted out the silhouette of a tree by painting the inner and outer unoccupied spaces. I did not paint tree limbs, but gave the impression of limbs by painting the spaces in and around them as the following photos illustrate. Thank you to G. Hutson for taking the photographs at the demo.

I started by painting the outer spaces leaving what appears to be a solid black silhouette of a tree.

William Hagerman negative shape painting demo

Next I move into the interior negative shapes.

William Hagerman negative shape painting demo

I continue with the interior and exterior negative shape painting, chiseling out and refining the shapes until I’m satisfied with the result.

William Hagerman negative shape painting demo

I employ this technique of negative shape painting quite often, especially with trees.
Below is a detail section from my painting titled: “An Open Door.” All the “sky holes” within the tree were painted using this method of negative shape painting.The pluses of this technique is that it strengthens your visual perceptions and enhances your painting for if the negative shapes are interesting, likely your subject will also be just as interesting. Practice this in your own painting and see how much your work will improve! To see the full image of “An Open Door”, check out the following post.

Detail section of an oil painting by William Hagerman copyright 2013

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How to Enjoy an Art Museum or Gallery Visit

The number one way of enjoying an art museum or gallery is actually going to one. Another way is to take some art classes before going. Why?

When you go to a museum or art gallery, how do you look at the art work? Do you see just a painted image or are you able to see beyond the image? Are you able to discern the techniques involved and how they were applied?

This brings me to the idea of how an art class can help you gain a heightened awareness when looking at artwork thus increasing your enjoyment of it. With an art class you learn about painting techniques, composition and mixing colors to name a few. Thus when you look at art work you will likely discern some of the techniques that the artist employed. Did the artist use transparent glazes, impasto, unique brush or palette knife work or a pleasing color scheme? When you know or understand some of these artistic techniques, you will never look at art the same way again. You’ll be able to see beyond the image and understand a little about the creative process.

In addition to or in lieu of taking an art class, check out some books on painting techniques or if your community has an art club. Often these clubs host artists who give painting demonstrations and many are free! If you like you can also visit my learn to oil paint page which will also give you some ideas.

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