Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Creating...and adhering to a painting process-Part One

The place to begin in first describing my own personal painting process is to examine my choice of colours...aka my "palette". My palette closely follows the palette suggested by John Carlson in his "Bible"...."A Guide to Landscape Painting".I guess you could call it a split palette. I use two reds...two yellows..two blues and titanium white as my basic choices...and add other colours I choose to use occasionally for specific properties or tasks. I ALWAYS place the colours in the same place on my palette...thus allowing me to create a pattern of selecting colour that becomes automatic over an extended period of time.

My reds are cadmium red light and alizarin (permanent). My blues are French Ultramarine(red phase), cerulean blue...and occasionally cobalt or thalo. My yellows are cadmium yellow (mid) and yellow ochre....and often Indian yellow or raw sienna.

I use Winsor and Newton's jaune brillant to heighten colour...burnt or raw umber to make lovely greys and viridian to develop a greater selection of rich greens.

The primary colours obviously include a warm and a cool choice to create values and temperature in my mixing. I use Winsor and Newton Liquin to speed up drying time in slow driers like the cadmiums and sap green. I employ titanium white in alkyd form as well as "Soft Mixing" form. The alkyd aids drying...while the "Soft Mixing" retards tightening up in the sub-zero temperatures I often work outdoors in during winter. I use pure turpentine as my solvent, but clean my brushes in a can of kerosene attached to my paintbox.

My choice of outdoor painting easel is a lightweight telescoping aluminum easel. It holds my canvas and my paint box effectively and is easy to take down and to anchor with the spikes attached to each of the three legs.

My brushes are most always a variety of the flat hog bristled type...with a rigger thrown in for detail work and signing. I find through usage that many of my bristled brushes become "brights"...due to the constant scrubbing they receive fom the canvas.

I guess that I could summarize this post by saying that your choice of colours and equipment will evolve as you progress in your painting as mine has...and will be determined more by your individual needs and preferences than what might be suggested in books and other artists' ideas.Even student grade colours will suffice in the beginning of your search. They are economical to buy...and for my money handle and cover well. You can purchase most brands of oils in 200 ml tubes at a fraction of the expense of a 37 ml of artist grade colour. Those colours are for professional use and work intended for sale.


  1. Bruce,

    Thanks for the comments, love your work and writing. That piece you have on the top right on your blog that you sketched originally 27 years ago and revised years later is extraordinary. I enjoyed reading this post and realize we both have almost the identical pallet..I also regard Carlsons book as the bible. I've been to your blog before. You are the real deal. Lookiong forward to seeing what you come up with next.
    All the best,

  2. Nice to get an insight into your working methods, Bruce. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the process.