Things I’d like to paint: Foggy morning in Arkansas

The pearlescent colors of sunrise through fog never show up as delicate and nuanced in a photo as they appear in real life.

A foggy farm landscape at sunrise.

In fog, even trees in the near background fade into the distance.

Objects become indistinct with less modeling of the form. Rendering is not a matter of simply scumbling white paint on top.

Color shifts from warm to cool in fog and mist.

Even though the predominant local colors are warm golds and greens, fog skews all colors towards the blue end of the spectrum.

For more ideas on painting mist and fog, check out the links below. These artists’ advice on rendering atmospheric effects is based on observation and understanding of the physical phenomena, rather than the simple formulas often found on some art forums.

Resources:

Birthday celebration: JMW Turner

Joseph Mallard William Turner, one of the greatest landscape artists of all time, was born on this day in 1775. Let’s celebrate his birthday with images of his work and quotations by this amazing painter.

Light is therefore colour.

Turner’s metal paintbox. Source: tate.org.uk via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Referring to Rembrandt…
No painter knew so well the extent of his own powers and his own weakness. Conscious of the power as well as the necessity of shade, he took the utmost boundaries of darkness and allowed but one-third of light, which light dazzles the eye thrown upon some favorite point, but where is judgement kept pace with his choice, surrounded with impenetrable shade.

Painting is a strange business.

From the “Vale of Heathfield” sketchbook. Source: tate.org.uk via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

There’s a sketch at every turn.

JMW Turner, The Fighting Temeraire, 1839. Source: nationalgallery.org.uk via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

I don’t paint so that people will understand me, I paint to show what a particular scene looks like.

Snow Storm: Steam Boat off a River’s Mouth, by JMW Turner. Source: tate.org.uk via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

If I could find anything blacker than black, I’d use it.

From a series of perspective sketches made by JMW Turner. Source: turnercontemporary.org via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

…my job is to draw what I see, not what I know.

Brighton Beach, with the Chain Pier in the Distance, from the West. Source: tate.org.uk via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

You should tell him that indistinctness is my forte. – Turner’s reply upon hearing that collector James Lenox had complained that the painting Fingal’s Cave, purchased by Lenox through a broker, was “indistinct.”

And by the way, a happy St. George’s Day to all of you in England, Catalonia, and Rio de Janeiro!

Resources:

Art History from About.com

The Painter’s Keys by Robert Genn

Tate Museum

Metropolitan Museum

The National Gallery

Blue Monday: Cerulean blue

Winslow Homer, “Flower Garden and Bungalow, Bermuda.” Watercolor on paper, reproduced as art print. Source: etsy.com via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Cerulean. adj. From Latin caeruleus, dark blue. First known use in 1662. Resembling the blue of the sky. From Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary.

When most artists want to paint a sky, cerulean blue is most likely the first watercolor pigment they think of using. Interestingly, the color was only invented in the early 19th century and was first sold as an artist’s color in 1861 by G. Rowney. Cerulean blue (color index PB 35) has the chemical name of Cobalt (II) stannate and is the result of heating tin salts with cobalt. It was invented at around the same time as the other modern cobalt pigments, including cobalt blue and cobalt green.

John Singer Sargent, “Giudecca.” Watercolor on paper. Source: johnsingersargent.org via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Cerulean blue was quickly adopted by the Impressionists, who enthusiastically experimented with all the new chemical compounds that were being developed as color pigments during the Industrial Revolution. Monet’s Gare-St. Lazare station series is frequently cited as being one of the earliest professional uses of cerulean blue in art.

Claude Monet, “Gare-St. Lazare Station,” 1877. Oil on canvas. Source: art.com via Wrenaissance on Pinterest

Cerulean blue is often described as a neutral blue, or even slightly on the green side of the blue spectrum. Personally, I find it to be a reddish blue when compared to my other favorite sky pigment, manganese blue. As watercolor pigments, both granulate in washes, but cerulean to me has a more delicate and even pattern as it settles, while manganese tends to form rivulets.

A color chart showing how Cerulean Blue mixes with other watercolors.

Top: Gradated wash of Holbein Cerulean Blue watercolor. Row 2, L to R: Cerulean with Cadmium Lemon; Alizarin Crimson; Cadmium Orange; Permanent Magenta. Row 3, L to R: Opera; Cadmium Yellow Medium; Potter’s Pink; New Gamboge. Row 4, L to R: Vermilion; Jaune Brillant; Cadmium Red Medium; Hansa Yellow. Row 5, L to R: Naples Yellow; Violet Grey; Yellow Ochre; Dioxazine Purple.

The graduated wash at the top shows cerulean blue’s fine-grained reticulations. Don’t you just love the lively, clear lime greens formed with cadmium lemon and Hansa yellow? The cleanest violets in the chart are formed by mixing Opera, alizarin crimson and Permanent Magenta with cerulean. I think mixing cerulean with the warmer reds on the chart gives some great shadow tones for painting flesh, while the warmer yellows and earth yellows result in some yummy, earthy, olive shades.

How do you like to use cerulean blue?

Information resources:

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