Posted by on Jan 30, 2015 in Journal | 4 comments

Sunflower, oil painting on board, 30cm x 20cm

Sunflower, oil painting on board, 30cm x 20cm

This is a small oil painting of mine from 2010. Does it look a bit old fashioned to you?

As you may know, I am in the process of changing from oil to acrylic paints (here is a post where I talk about it). There are a few reasons for this, one is that I want my paintings to have brighter cleaner colour.

I was thinking about this as I was in the process of ordering more acrylic paints. One brand of paints referred to a ‘traditional’ palette as opposed to a ‘modern’ palette. I hadn’t heard of this differentiation before. It is really interesting.

Apparently there have been many new pigments invented in the past century. New colours were made possible through discoveries in the field of organic chemistry. They are called modern colours as opposed to the ones that have been around for centuries which are called mineral colours.   Here is a really interesting article telling of the history and how painting was influenced by these changes.

I was trained using a traditional or mineral palette. After I got my Post-Graduate degree in the visual arts I went to a traditional painting school. This was because I wanted to learn to paint realistically and at that time most schools weren’t interested in teaching those kind of skills.

I have been using pretty much the same colour palette that I was taught in 25 years ago. They are the colours that I know, and there is a lot to know about different pigments. Some colours are opaque (like the cadmiums) and will cover most anything. Others are very transparent and make excellent glazes. Some colours, like the pthalos, are very strong and can seep into everything around it. Others are very weak and you can add and add to a mix with hardly any difference. Some colours change a lot if you mix them with white, while others become warmer when you use them in thin washes. Even the whites, which one might be forgiven to think are the same colour, have different qualities which affect whatever you mix them with.

I can mix just about any colour I want from this palette without much trouble. Or I thought I could. But now I realise that I can’t mix the bright sharp colours that I want.

Another reason that I wanted to change from acrylics to oils is because I want my paintings to look less traditional. Now I am realising it wasn’t the oils but the colours that were traditional.


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