Pigments

March 20, 2016

Being a colorist at heart, I’ve always been curious in seeing raw pigments and learning about where the colors come from, be it minerals or plants, or those that are created in a lab.  My watercolors are infused with color.  In my workshops I show my students ways to mix and layer colors to create richer, glowing colors, rather than using color right out of the tubes.  I know there are plenty of painters who use specific palettes of color, limited to a small assortment of colors to create a certain tone to their paintings.  I’m a color hog, the more the merrier.  I never use any browns or black, and rarely grey.  I mix them or layer them using all sorts of colors to get wonderful rich colors in my paintings.  

Shutters

“Shutters”  Original watercolor on paper. 14″ x 14″. Architecture Collection. Study of classic tuscan windows, shutters and wrought iron. Orange, yellow and plum colored walls with green and blue shutters, the sky reflected in the window glass.      ©Jill Rosoff 2005

And I am curious about where pigments come from.  Typically they come from plants or minerals, and sometimes animals.  Imagine grinding up a lovely piece of lapis lazuli to get that specific blue in your painting!  Blues are purples were most expensive, so its no surprise why they are associated with royalty.   With the Industrial Revolution, color and pigments could be developed in labs, and more especially after the Scientific Revolution in the 18th C.   

I just found this article on My Modern Met about a lab at Harvard that has a collection of over 2,500 pigments from around the world, and you can go see them.  Its the Forbes Pigment Collection at the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, part of the Harvard Art Museum.  They have the pigments there to use in art conservation work, to be able to match colors of old paintings that are being maintained and preserved.

forbespigmentcollection3photo from My Modern Met, colors from the Forbes Pigment Collection

Seeing this article made me wistful for an art supply store I went to when I was studying printmaking in Florence way too many years ago.  Its called Zecchi Colori, on via della Studio (evocative name, no?).  Head a couple of blocks toward the Arno from the Santa Maria del Fiori, the Cathedral that dominates Florence’s skyline, Zecchi is on the right side of the street. The first time I went in there I thought I’d died and gone to heaven because around the perimeter of the store on the top shelf of the supplies were huge glass jars of pigments, bright, intense, glorious. I never did get a photo of them, seems ridiculous since I was so taken with them that I just never took a photo.  I did by a crock, though!  But I think I need to get into that lab at Harvard…

Majolica crock from Zecchi Colori, Firenze.

Majolica crock from Zecchi Colori, Firenze.  Its sitting on a new still life of fruit and vegetables that’s in process.  

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I just read the transcript of Bob Dylan’s speech last week at MusiCares, when he was honored as their Person of the Year. It’s part of the annual Grammys events.  I wish I could have watched him, but it wasn’t broadcast on television.  However one reporter, Randall Roberts, thought to transcribe it, and the LA Times published it.  Its a hell of a good read.

Pink Fuschias

“Fuchsias” ©Jill Rosoff 2011, 6″ x 17.5″

I think it’s important to remember that creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  It is almost as if its a redistribution of wealth, that everything that we take in, visually, aurally, emotionally, spiritually, through taste, through feel, through smell, all of it can come back out of us in the art we make, if its painting, cooking, making music, writing, or any other creative endeavor, all of it reflects what we have learned so far.  My artwork is influenced by so many things, by what I learned growing up, what my parents taught me, what I saw in museums, what I tasted.  Anyone who knows me knows I’ve usually got a cup of coffee with me while I’m making art.  I’m influenced by a great latte.  Yup, I said that.  

Dylan talks about the music he listens to, how he hears the songs and then writes something that reflect them.  Read especially the part about the “Come all ye” songs, and what he wrote after that.  You’ll have a V-8 slap-your-forehead moment.  I look at Van Gogh, and Thiebaud, and Klimt and Diebenkorn, and so many more, and then I indulge in them as I paint my paintings.  Going to museums to see the actual work of these artist heroes of mine is like plugging me in, I get all excited and fascinated and wish I could paint right then and there.  Thank goodness for my iPhone, I can now take notes on it.  But I still often take a notebook into a show with me to jot down things.  Musically I try to channel Gabby Pahinui as I struggle to get my fingers, which are ingrained in American folk music rhythms and patterns, into playing Hawaiian slack key guitar.  Its my new, great struggle.  

Read the transcript here, even if you don’t subscribe to the LA Times online, you can read up to 10 articles a month there for free.   I’ve downloaded it so I can go reread it now and then.  So can you.

And if you live in or near Orange County, CA, come take one of my watercolor workshops!

"Three Purple Tulips", ©Jill Rosoff, 2007, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", $55.00

“Three Purple Tulips”, ©Jill Rosoff, 2007, 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″

In my workshops, especially the newer students often use the word “dark” when talking about colors that are the opposite of pale.  So I like to ask them, “What do you mean by dark?”  This question usually gets a lot of stumped looks.

The word ‘dark’ means having little or no light, when you look it up.   So it’s really not a very accurate word to use for a descriptor of deep or rich color values.  So I’ve developed a list of contrasting words that I encourage my students to consider instead of the words light and dark.  It opens them up a new way of thinking about how to describe colors, hopefully.  

pale                                                   rich 

diluted                                              saturated

soft                                                    harsh          

weak                                                 strong

muted                                               bright

tint                                                     shade

subdued                                            loud

restrained                                         intense

 

delicate                                             overpowering

 

mild                                                    deep

These comparisons produce a lot of different ideas about colors.  Can you think of any more?

 

Teaching About Color

March 20, 2014

I have a workshop of new watercolor painters that just started last night.  For new painters, I give out a list of supplies they’ll need to have, including a list of paint colors they need to get.  This list includes a breadth of reds, blues, yellows and greens, mostly, noting that they can choose to add any colors they want, that a combination of those colors might not create…usually for me this means pinks, purples, turquoises, and some greens.  Black and white are not on my list, neither are the umbers or siennas.  I talked about this in a posting a year ago: https://jillpaints.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/about-using-of-brown-and-grey-in-watercolor/

In getting ready for a set of workshops, this one is all about still lifes, I do some research online about the genre, refresh my memory, and find known and unknown painters’ work to show my students.  And you know how when you go online that the thread of what you look at can look like a ball of string your cat unravelled?  This time I stumbled upon pictures of a eucalyptus tree I’d never seen before:  a rainbow eucalyptus.

Rainbow Euc

One sample of a rainbow eucalyptus

A quote from Love These Pics, where I found the above picture (and many others) notes:  “The landscaping article Under the Rainbow explained, “As the newly exposed bark slowly ages, it changes from bright green to a darker green, then bluish to purplish, and then pink-orange. Finally, the color becomes a brownish maroon right before exfoliation occurs. Since this process is happening in different zones of the trunk and in different stages, simultaneously, the colors are varied and almost constantly changing. As a result, the tree will never have the same color pattern twice, making it like a work of living art.”

Now, I get to have some fun explaining to my students how all tree trunks are not brown.  Happy First Day of Spring!

I heart you

January 18, 2013

Valentine 1“Valentine 1″ ©Jill Rosoff 2013, 6″ x 6”

Valentine’s Day is that day when if you’re in love you hope to goodness that you figure out something great to do for your partner, or your partner does something lovely for you.   If you are single, the commercials for jewelry, flower deliveries and certain card companies are annoying reminders that you’re not contributing to the economy like everyone else is.  

For me this year, I have decided to make Valentine’s Day about exploring layering and the wonderful transparent characteristic that watercolors have.  OK, yes, you can get them with acrylics too, but watercolors’ textures, I think, are much more lively.  And watercolors came first (so there! I say in my best Edith Ann voice).  This was another experiment I did for my workshops, where we took the oh-so recognizable image of the heart, and layered on colors, holding onto the transparency, and enjoying the new colors created as one layer overlapped another.  Not to mention the great textures in the blooms!

This along with a few new paintings just in time for Valentines Day can be purchased in my Etsy Store.

Watercolor Workshops

January 2, 2013

Happy 2013!

Paperwhite teaser100

Detail from “Paperwhites”, ©Jill Rosoff 2010

For those of you in the Orange County, CA area, my watercolor workshops start up again on Saturday, January 12th.  

These workshops are open to everyone at every level of experience in painting with watercolors.  Each session’s work is focused on what those who are there bring in, whether it be a new project or technique, or working on ongoing paintings, and developing them to completion.  When I find new ideas or ways of creating an effect, I bring those in and we experiment with them.

The workshops are held in Santa Ana at Karen’s Detail Custom Frames, which is on MacArthur Blvd, one block east of Harbor Blvd., across from the Home Depot.   Each session is $25.00, or you can purchase a six-session pass for $125.00 (six sessions for the price of five).  

Sign up here to receive emails about the workshops, or download the 2013 workshops schedule here.

Contact me with any questions using the ‘contact’ link at the end of this or any posting!

Leaves, wet-in-wet

November 12, 2012

 

“Leaves, wet in wet, purples” ©Jill Rosoff 2012.  12″ h x 6″ w

This painting came out of a demonstration I wanted to do for my watercolor workshops exploring wet-in-wet and dropping in color.  It was also to show the physical properties of water in watercolor, and how it can be used, exploited, but also how it can be a great tool.   I lightly sketched the leaf shapes onto the paper first.  Then one by one, I painted each leaf in clear water, then dropped color into the wet areas with strong watercolors, diluted enough to make the paint liquid but to hold on to the intensity of the color.  As each drop of color spread out when it hit the wet paper, I dropped more color into the tips and the stem to hold on to that intensity of color.  It was lots of fun to do, but what was truly fun was watching my students observe what the paint does as the water dries.  

This piece is now for sale via my shop on Etsy.  If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas, you can now purchase a gift card for my shop on Etsy and let the person your giving the gift to choose what they want!

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