Monday, November 8, 2010

Organic Color Mixing

I just finished a little Santa Gnome hybrid figure. In a number of ways it was an experiment. I carved him from some cottonwood I bought at auction years ago. Many carvers work in cottonwood bark, but this is the tree itself. Something you don't see much of on the carving wood market. It looks a lot like aspen or basswood. It is harder than both, but with sharp  tools, leave a very nice surface and it paints well. The second aspect of this experiment was that I just started carving it without any pattern or design, just a few proportion markings. Hence the odd look. Not really round enough to  be a true Santa figure and too tall and slender to be a gnome or elf. So i call him Santa Gnome. The third level of experimentation had to do with how I arrived at the colors. I used only red, green, blue, yellow and white. In other words, primary color (except for the white). I mixed blue and red for a purple seen on the cap. I added some yellow to that to get a brownish color for the boot bottoms. I added water to create more of a wash and used that for the boot tops. I added to that more yellow and got a kind of dark olive color for the shirt. I added a bit of white to that for the gloves. I found this progressive color mixing to result in a very organic palette of "cousin" colors. This is not a new concept for painters, but it's something different from painting a carving using colors straight from the bottle. We don't really need so many bottles.

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