Sunday, March 10, 2013

Starting with Greys, Again

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.


Ida M. Glazier said...

You definitely have a wonderful blog---so many great works, and then the benefit of learning and great advise as well as info about products. So glad I get to read this and learn. Thanks!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thank you, Ida!

Kathleen Kalinowski, PSA said...

Thank you for the information Michael! I was wondering what to do with the Torrit gray as it just looked so muddy! I usually use transparent oxide red or brown for a block in, so now I am excited to try the gray. One thing I noticed is that the paint is very stiff and with all my strength, can hardly squeeze it out of the tube!

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Thanks for the comment, Kathleen! My Torrit Grey is fine - no problems with stiffness. You may want to add a little linseed oil to it.