Squeak 4

2019-01-24 squeak 4 water-soluble graphite

Squeak 4, 8 x 6 water-soluble graphite

This is a water-soluble graphite sketch of Squeak.  So it’s like sketching with regular pencils, but with these special ones (from Derwent), somehow the graphite will move around with water.  This is the first sort of finished sketch I’ve done with these, so I’m not sure of the technique.  I did discover that I could use one of them as sort of an ink stick, dabbing it with my wet brush and then painting with it.  I used “charcoal white” for the whiskers and eye spot.


Kodak Photo CDs

Red Hartebeeste, 8 x 10 Pastel (O, P), from photo by A. Phillips

Red Hartebeeste, 8 x 10 Pastel (O, P), from photo by A. Phillips

Last summer my relative gave me six Kodak Photo CDs filled with wild animal photos he took when he went to South Africa around 2001, telling me I could do whatever I liked with them.  I created one pastel (shown here), but then hadn’t done much more because this out-of-date format is difficult to work with and I couldn’t get very good resolution.  They were barely good enough to make a 4 x 5 print.

My geek husband helped me figure them out, and now they will be much more useful.  I thought I’d share, though you may need  some tech help.

The CD-ROMS include .PCD image files.  When you can manage to open these with a program such as PhotoImpact (wonderful ancient program I had on my XP system last summer but which doesn’t install on my new Win 7 system) or Microsoft Photo Editor (which opens them now), they may not be in the best resolution.  This is because each .PCD file includes several resolutions, but the software mentioned seems to just pick its favorite.

So he had a program on his Linux box, Image Magick, which was able to convert them, and then we were able to install the application on my Windows 7.  I’m sorry, some of this is going to be pretty user-unfriendly, but maybe it will help.

We downloaded ImageMagick-6.8.5-3-Q16-x86-windows.zip, extracted it to the Program Files directory, and added its path to the path variable.  We logged out and logged back in to update the path, then opened a CMD window and typed “convert /?”  There should be several pages of stuff scrolling by.  If it’s only a half page, you didn’t set the path right, and it’s running the wrong convert program.  Once you have it, the command line is something like this: “convert D:\PHOTO_CD\IMAGES\img0017.pcd[5] img0017.tiff”  So CONVERT, then the source file, then no space and you put [5] to get the highest resolution out, and then a space and the target file.  It seems to know what type you want to make based on the filename extension.  So that I can do this without retyping it, I saved this text into a .BAT file which is just a text file with a .bat extension, and the computer runs it instead of editing it.  When I want to convert a file, I open my ConvertPix.BAT file to edit the target and source files, and then save and run it.  Then I can open the target file with Photoshop.  Janky, but it works.

Iguana, Kruger Nat'l Park, by A Phillips

Iguana, Kruger Nat’l Park, by A. Phillips

Using this method, these 4M .pcd files made 18M .tiff files, 3072 x 2048 pixels.  At 300 ppi, which is considered “high res” and what I use for my .tif scans of my artwork for making prints, these converted images will make a 6.8″ x 10.25″ print.  Possibly they would still look good larger, at lower than 300 ppi.  Image shown is compressed for the internet.

These images have been on these CD-ROMS for 12 years.  It’s probably time to back them up.

Tertiary Intensities

Tertiary Intensities: yellow-green v. red-violet, blue-green v. red-orange, blue-violet v. yellow-orange

Tertiary Intensities: yellow-green v. red-violet, blue-green v. red-orange, blue-violet v. yellow-orange

I think these are the last gouache color charts I’m going to do in my quest to understand color (see previous posts).  These charts show what happens when you mix complementary tertiary colors such as yellow-green and red-violet.

I had to mix the original tertiaries myself, which is a bit of a guessing game, so as I went through the charts, if I seemed to be skewing to one side or the other of the color wheel, I tried to adjust by adding a bit from the opposite side (of the four colors I was using).  For these charts, I started with one tertiary, mixed all the way to the other, and then started back again.  I did this three times, one for each complementary pair.

With these charts in hand, and with several hours of analyzing finished artworks, I had another go at the photos we were supposed to analyze in Color Theory Made Really Easy, and found I could do it easily.

I never mix watercolors like this, but am very glad I did this exercise.  Next up, finding my pastels on these charts.

Looking for Colors in Art

I am trying to learn more about color in a systematic way, and have been working through Color Theory Made Really Easy by Sandra Angelo (for sale used here).  The next step is Tertiary Intensities color charts (e.g. gradually mixing blue-green with red-orange).  I questioned the value of this exercise, since I don’t own any tertiary paints and never mix four watercolors together.  So I set those aside and looked at her next assignment, which was to figure out which color charts to use for various photographs.  I found this very difficult without those tertiary charts, and decided to try something easier; I decided to analyze the color in art, where every color has been deliberately chosen.

I picked up the book The Best of Pastel, collected by C. F. Pratt and J. Monafo, got out my color wheel and charts, and started with the first paintings, spending several minutes with each one, until I figured out the pattern of colors the artist had used.  I was astonished!  They really do this.  I mean, I had been limiting my palette to create harmony, but these paintings showed evidence of those triangles and squares on the back of color wheels.  I will show three examples.

Pink Tea Cup II, pastel, Marie Kash Weltzheimer

Pink Tea Cup II, pastel, Marie Kash Weltzheimer

To my clueless eye this at first looked like a nice pastel with some pretty colors.  Then I picked out that most of the colors are blue-violet on one side of the color wheel (see it not only on the tablecloth but in the shadows in the teacup), and its complementary, yellow-orange (grapes), and triad, red-orange (teacup), and yellow-green (grapes).  They’re gorgeous!

The Endangered Panda, pastel, Donna L Arntzen

The Endangered Panda, pastel, Donna L Arntzen

Next I saw this panda in the moonlight, and all I could see at first was the greyed green.  But I made myself decide it was a greyed blue-green, and then looked across the color wheel.  Was there red-orange in it?  No.  But when I looked wider on the wheel to the triad, yellow-orange and red-violet, and began to look for them, they leaped off the page at me.  See them in the face and lighter area above the head?  Marvelous!

Sunday Afternoon, pastel, Peggy Ann Solinsky

Sunday Afternoon, pastel, Peggy Ann Solinsky

But this one is just amazing.  It looks like a photograph, right?  But when I checked it out, I could only find two colors: blue and orange.  As far as I can tell, everything in this painting is a value or intensity of blue and orange, with either white or the white of the paper.  If this were done in watercolor, only two paint tubes would be required, but with pastel she probably used a range.

There were some paintings where I couldn’t find a pattern, and I noticed that those paintings hadn’t appealed to me, right from the start.  I don’t think I’ll ever look at paintings the same again.

I also learned that those tertiary intensity charts would be useful, especially for pastel, so I plan to do those next.

Primary-Secondary Intensities

I’m continuing my epic quest to fill up a watercolor pad with little dots of color.  I think my friends think I’m nuts, but I continue to learn a lot.

I made these charts first with gouache and then watercolors, and they’re called intensities.  They showed me what happens as you gradually dull or “grey” a color.  In doing them I realized I was making a line directly across the color wheel, and that most color wheels are utterly insufficient.  I always wondered where grey and brown were on the color wheel, how you “get there.”  The answer that I discovered from these exercises is that the center of the color wheel, which color-wheel manufacturers fill up with text and “this is what happens when you add red” should be filled with colors which mute down until the exact center is a perfect grey.

I did a Google search for a color wheel showing what should really be there, and couldn’t find anything until I added “gray” to the search terms.  Even then, it was not easy, but I found this FABULOUS explanation by Jeff Mellem, which took what I had discovered and added value to make a 3-D model which contains all the colors.  Check it out!

I’m not sure this image at the right, from Mr. Mellem’s site, is exactly what I want, since the colors seem to go straight from fairly intense to grey.  Do you see brown, olive or eggplant on there?  I really don’t.  The search continues.

Getting back to my intensity charts, I began to realize that only if your colors are perfectly across from each other will you hit grey in the middle, so that charts like this are a good test of your particular hues.  For example, if you’re adding blue to orange, and on the way through you make green, and never really get to perfect grey, one (or both) of your colors was too yellow – the yellow skewed the line across the color chart towards the yellow-green side of grey.  Not that that means those colors are no good, but that you should be aware, “These hues make a lovely deep grey green, but they won’t go any greyer unless I add something opposite to yellow-green, such as a violet, to pull the color back into the center, and if I want grey, other paints might be easier.”

During these charts I decided to stop wasting white gouache on white paper and just use water to lighten the value.

I’m doing these exercises based on the course Color Theory Made Really Easy by Sandra Angelo, which I’m ready to resell.

Social Media 101: Lessons from Lady Gaga

I attended a seminar this morning at the Rochester Arts and Cultural Council called Social Media 101: Lessons from Lady Gaga by Deborah Mourey.  She offered Lady Gaga’s web site as a good model, with clear menus representing not what Gaga wanted to show off but what she thought her fans wanted to see. For instance, Lyrics are probably on the main menu because people were always calling about them, and having them on the site brings traffic to her instead of having people find lyrics at a third-party site.  Ms. Mourey said that marketing used to be “See how great I am!” and now needs to be “Here’s what you need.”

I thought the seminar was very well done, and I walked away with many items for my to-do list.

I think overall my web site is good, though I’ve tweaked it a bit now, such as making it easier to find my “Email Updates” button.  Also I notice that people who have visited my site often ask about my prices and policies, so they must not be obvious enough.  I’ll have to think about how to make those pages more prominent without appearing pushy.

She convinced me that Twitter, which I had thought was pretty stupid, was a very important facet of social marketing.  So I have signed up.

Other items were to set up a LinkedIn Company page, even for a one-person business (however, I can’t do that without a dedicated company email address) and to consider video, which is well-selected by search engines and most popular with viewers, who will watch what they might not bother to read.

She said Facebook was basically evil and had gotten even worse since the IPO.  It wasn’t made for business, didn’t handle it well (as I have found), and she barely bothered with it.  She suggested not wasting your time creating content on Facebook as it does not get picked up by search engines.  I feel vindicated in not using Facebook much, thought it was due to laziness.

Towards the end she and some audience members began hurrying and tossing around buzzwords: Instagram! SproutSocial! GoogleAlert! HootSuite!  I’ll sort it out eventually.

Tertiary Values

Color Chart Value TertiariesOver five days I painted value charts of all six tertiaries, red-orange, orange-yellow, yellow-green, green-blue, blue-violet, and violet-red.  This is a continuation of exercises from the packet, Color Theory Made Really Easy.  I decided not to do all the watercolor values like before.  I did add little dots of primaries and secondaries at the bottoms of the stacks, so I could compare them to the tertiaries, very useful.  The gouache came with two blues so I used the yellow one with green and the red one with purple.

My gouache set coming with all the secondaries premixed made these assignments much easier than they would have been had I had to use just the primaries, or worse, the off-primary hues I have to work with in watercolor.  I was mostly able to just mix equal blobs of color.

I think the most useful part of this exercise is going around afterwards matching the colors to things in my house.  I can’t believe how much I learn from doing that.

(UPDATE: I’m done and selling the course.)

Secondary Values

Over three days I painted three pages of secondaries going from full strength to almost nothing.  Just as with the Primary Values, I started with gouache and then any single watercolors I had, but I don’t have many of those, preferring to mix my own.  So I started showing values of mixed secondaries.

For the curious artist or random pedants, the oranges are Bright Orange gouache, then watercolors Cadmium Red Light (RY), Perm Rose (Rb) + Cadmium Yellow Light (Yr), Cadmium Red Deep (Ry) + Cadmium Yellow Deep (Yr), Alizarin Crimson (Rb) + Lemon Yellow Hue (Yb), Alizarin Crimson (Rb) + Yellow Ochre (Yrb), and Cadmium Red Deep (Ry) + Yellow Ochre (Yrb).   So per this previous post, any time there is a “b” in the mixing code, you can expect a dull or greyed orange.

The greens are Permanent Green gouache, then watercolors Hookers Green Dark, Intense Blue (By) + Burnt Umber (gorgeous deep color), Intense Blue (By) + Lemon Yellow (Yb), Ultramarine (Br) + Cadmium Yellow Light (Yr), Ultramarine (Br) + Lemon Yellow (Yb), Indigo (Byr) + Lemon Yellow (Yb), and Paynes Grey (BYR) + Lemon Yellow (Yb).  With four blues and five yellows/browns, I needed a little more room, so at the top I added Intense Blue (By) + Burnt Sienna (Ybr), Payne’s Grey (BYR) + Yellow Ochre (Ybr), and Ultramarine (Br) + Yellow Ochre (Ybr).

Indigo and Intense Blue make beautiful darks, but I find them difficult to work with.  Indigo lifts too easily and Intense Blue has so much pigment it is difficult to get it to softly fade to white – as soon as I touch a dry edge with fresh water, it colors all the water and makes a new boundary.  They are both fine if you’re not going to touch them again – that just doesn’t seem to be my style.  Ultramarine seems to be in the sweet spot, mixes well, and even adds lovely granulation, but it doesn’t make particularly exciting darks.

The purples are Deep Violet gouache, then watercolors Ultramarine (Br) + Permanent Rose (Rb), Indigo (Bry) + Alizarin Crimson (Rb), Ultramarine (Br) + Alizarin Crimson (Rb), and Intense Blue (By) + Permament Rose (Rb).  I was tired of doing whole value runs, so at the top I added single mixes which I’m not going to type out.

Value Color Charts

I have a pretty good idea of color theory, but wanted to get better at using it, with a specific plan for practice, so I bought the books for Color Theory Made Really Easy by Sandra Angelo.  I’m not ready to give a final review of it, but I thought I’d share how the practices are going so far.  (UPDATE: I’m done and selling it.)

First you read a couple of booklets on color theory which I mostly already knew, but then she lays out a series of color charts for you to make.  I was disappointed that she did not include a list of materials, but only an order form for buying the kit from her, with the warning that the system wouldn’t work with the wrong supplies.  I emailed to her for a list but haven’t heard back.  I’m very unhappy about that, but she may have a good reason such as illness.

She recommends acrylics for learning to mix, but since I don’t know exactly which ones and have no interest in acrylic I decided to buy some gouache, which is opaque watercolor.  I verified that Savoir Faire gouache is vegan and of reasonable quality and bought a set of ten tubes.  So far I think watercolors would have been fine since I’m used to them, but maybe gouache will be helpful later.

She has you start by mixing the primaries but I decided to skip ahead to start with the easiest, pure values of single colors, and I’ve done three so far, one a day.

I’ve learned quite a bit from this.  The left column is gouache (two columns for blue, since the gouache came with both Primary Blue and Ultramarine).  You mix the gouache by putting down a puddle of white at the top and then slowly adding color.  I then made columns for all my watercolors of that hue, starting at the bottom practically straight out of the tube and adding water with a dropper as I went up.  I thought about leaving room for pastels but I think that would just make a mess.

There’s nothing revolutionary about doing this, and yet I took my time and really thought about the colors, warm or cool for instance, and then went around my house trying to match items to the color chart.  I think taking time to do this was important. If I’d just done the gouaches I don’t think I would have learned much, but seeing the various hues, the paints I use, laid out was great.

Next to the watercolor names I have put the mixing code.  This is a neat idea I got from Peter Saw’s site many years ago.  Look around, there are several pages and he does a great job of explaining a practical approach to mixing I’ve been using since my first teacher confused me.