|Greys, I, 8x10, oil|
I've been playing with Gamblin's Chromatic Black this week, and it's led to some interesting ideas for beginning plein air painters.
We've all heard about doing thumbnail value sketches, but you can also take this approach to the painting directly. If you have trouble mentally isolating value from color, try doing your initial block-in with grey. One thing I've found is that this also leads to "nailing" the light and shadow patterns quickly, which is a huge help when painting outdoors. Rather than wasting time mixing color, just start off with grey. Mix up a big pile of Chromatic Black and white, and have at it. It's a lot faster to get the painting going with greys.
In the two paintings accompanying this post, I forgot to take photos of the "grey" stage, so here is part of another painting I'm working on in the studio this week for which I use the same concept.
There's another benefit to starting with grey. Lots of beginning outdoor painters have trouble controlling their chroma, especially when using a split-primary palette like mine. (Just as a reminder, split-primary means a cool and a warm version of each of the three primaries.) Because you're painting wet-into-wet, the grey block-in will mix gently with your next, full-color application of paint. This will moderate any too-intense colors you've mixed. Later, if you really want rich color, you can slather on some high-chroma mixtures thickly with a brush or knife.
|Greys, II, 8x10, oil|
As a side note, I used only the following colors for these paintings: Gold Ochre, Chromatic Black, and Alizarin Crimson. Plus white, of course!