|Secret Mountain Study, 9x12 oil/paper|
If you've been following my blog, you'll remember that I have been experimenting with starting my plein air paintings with a grey block-in. The reasons, as I've explained before, are two-fold. First, starting with grey allows you to focus on the value structure of your scene without getting mired down in color-mixing. (Establishing the values is, as you know, key in capturing a moment of time.) Second, the greys will naturally "mute" the intense colors of the split-primary palette.
For awhile, I'd been using Gamblin's Chromatic Black for mixing my greys. But then I realized I have all these tubes of "Torrit Grey" from Gamblin sitting around. What is this? you may ask Here are a few paragraphs from the Gamblin website to explain:
Every spring, Gamblin Artists Colors collects a wealth of pigments from our Torit® Air Filtration system. We filter the air around the areas where we handle dry pigments so that our workers are not exposed to pigment dust. Rather than sending any of our high quality, expensive pigments into the landfill, Gamblin paint makers recycle them into "Gamblin Torrit Grey".
"Pigment dust should not go into the earth, water or landfill, but into paint," says Robert Gamblin.
The mix of pigments is different every year, so Torrit Grey is always unique and will never be repeated. Torrit Grey tends to have a greenish tinge because of the great strength of the Phthalo Green pigment, which is a dark bluish green. Torrit Grey varies from a medium dove grey to a dark earthy grey.You can read the full story here.
Torrit Grey is given away free with a purchase of Gamblin products at your local art supply store. I think I got some from my online orders, as well. I have several tubes of it - what better use for it than these grey block-ins?
The tubes I have are dark enough for my darkest darks. From this, I mix three lighter vales, and then use the four values for my block-in. If I need a dark accent, I can turn to my Chromatic Black (lightened a bit, of course, and usually with cadmium red for a nice warm note.)
Above is a demonstration I did of one of Sedona's local formations. I left a good deal of the grey showing so you can see how nicely it works in the piece.