Meeting Notes, July 17, 2014

At todays meeting Jeannie (new!), Jim, Lisa, Renita, Erin, Barbara, Tom, Tedd, Eunice, Stephanie, Brenda, Diane, Marty, Kristina, Kay, Nancy, Laura (new!), Claudia, and me Celeste.

Today's suggested table topic: Darkest dark and/or black. What do you know about it?

Celeste:  I brought in 2 paintings. One was done with the Zorn pallet that permits black (and I obviously went overboard with the black). I talked about the difference between the darkest dark you observe versus the darkest dark available in your paints.

Eunice: I like to use dark purples and dark blues for darks. I will modify them for what I want. I went on the Craig Srebnik paint out. I am showing a painting of a building from Marylhurst and also a landscape.

Tedd: I like to use chromatic black by Gamblin. I did not do the lavender festival this year, but I do have two lavender paintings to show.

Thomas: It is important to not use pure black from the tube. Black (and all colors) will always have a bias. Black will have a bias such as toward red, green or blue. I used to use ultramarine blue, veridian, and alizarin to achieve my darks. It was sometimes problematic. As soon as you add white to strong mixtures like that  it will go immediately to red or green. I do now use (tubed) black on my palette. 

I will show you paintings today that I did on a trip. For these paintings I used Quin red, Hansa yellow, Thalo blue (student grade), iron oxide yellow and white. Sometimes I use fastmatte white when I travel. Sargent established all his middle values and then added darks later. 

I am giving a public lecture (July 25) in Hood River and I have announcements about upcoming workshops too (listed below).

Barbara: What I know is if you use black your eye will go there! Pure black in a painting can be like a big black hole. However, a black line can sparkle. Georgia O'Keeffe would sometimes only use black and white for stretches of time. She used black-and-white all the way to May or June before she introduced color. She was able to say all she wanted to say with just black and white.

Erin: Here is what I know, it is hard to paint outdoors (laughter). I am trying to get my values right. I have brought in a Plein air painting of a tree. This is one of my first plein air efforts. (good job, Erin!)

Marty: I find darks and blacks to be confusing. I have some difficulty discerning color in darks. Someone might say “there is a lot of blue in that black”, but honestly, I just see the black! Recently, I have been painting paintings of roses that belong to my neighbor.

Laura (new): I am a watercolorist. I am new here today. Black is used very differently in watercolor then how it is used in oil. I have learned to put the darkest dark next to the lightest light if I want to draw attention to that in my painting. That area will sometimes also received the sharpest edges. This is planned in order to get the viewer to look there. I brought in a plein air watercolor.

Kristina: I took a workshop with Sherry McGraw. She emphasized putting in your darkest dark and lightest light right away. The idea is to work out from that. If you establish it early... it will be strong and solid. I brought in a recent painting.

Diane: Black can be pushed to another type of black. I do appreciate black. I brought in two oil paintings, one from Crystal Springs and one from the Gorge. When you write a poem you must provide the reader with a place “to stand”. I wondered in my recent painting if I gave my viewer a place to stand? (Editor’s note: We all thought she did!)

Brenda: I often mix my blacks. In pastels I will push purple or blue, just finding the darkest value that I can, in order to give the illusion of dark. I brought in a painting I did recently at the lavender fields**. Next I will be painting in Door County in Wisconsin (in a plein air event). I have an announcement about classes/workshops also. (This information will be in the announcements section).

Kay: I don't generally use black, I use Payne’s gray. I am willing to listen to how you mix your darks to try it for myself. I painted with Craig Srebnik on Tuesday. I brought in a painting of a tree from that paint out.

Claudia: I learned from Za that your darkest dark does not have to be black. Za told us that we could imagine black as hell and white is heaven ..those are the extremes and should be carefully considered.

Nancy: I like Williamsburg paints. Williamsburg has many different types of darks and blacks. I did a painting of the mountain in both pastel and oil. Sumi brush painting can teach us a lot about values. I have a May show coming up. I am the artist-in-residence from September to October at the Michael Schlicting Hawk Creek Gallery in Neskowin.

Stephanie: I can show you examples from this Artist magazine of wonderful dark solutions. I think it is important early on to establish contrast. Contrast seems more important to me than black. I brought in a painting from Sauvie Island.

Jeannie: I am new today. I will need an easel for painting outdoors. I have been a studio painter and I'm very interested in learning plein air. I do not use black except I have used it on the edges of gallery wrapped canvas.

Renita: When I first started painting I used a lot of black. I thought it was so dramatic! I have since learned it's a bad idea. In this still life painting that I'm showing you today I used only red, green two yellows and white.

Lisa: When I began painting I was not allowed to use black. Now I do mix my own. I have been recently given “permission” from teachers to use black/and/or dark. I like ultramarine blue and raw umber to achieve darks. I brought in a painting that I started from life. His name is Jack.

Diane: I like to mix everything. I have quite a time leaving things be. In order to achieve a really rich dark I am sure it should be put down with authority (and without over mixing). A big thing for me right now is learning to "turn" the form. I am working on it.

Jim: Well, I am different. I like to use mid tones throughout... it is easier for me to control that. Then... at the very end I hit the accents. I put in the darks and lights at the very absolute end! It is very rewarding. I brought in two paintings that I did from life (in Aimee Erickson’s portrait workshop). I have a new project -- I am painting Brenda's daughter, Nikki. She is a favorite model for me.


Brenda Boylan is still in talks for classes at OSA. If it is a go it will start in mid September. Brenda wants it to be lessons that will be consecutive to build on on another. 

Brenda is also going to be conducting a workshop at Sequoia (Nov 8).

Brenda’s recent blog post about her recent adventures:

 ** The painting she brought today won an Award of Excellence award at the lavender festival.

Nancy Klos offers a two-day workshop scheduled for August 9 and 10 plein air with a mountain view. Please contact her for further details.

Eric Jacobson has a workshop through Sequoia, Plein air on Sauvie Island August 16 and 17 
Za will teach through Sequoia in November. (Three days). Information to come:

Join Thomas Kitts for a special Friday evening lecture (7pm, July 25) on the 'Art of Looking at Art' At Columbia Art Gallery...this is free to the public (and then if you want to make a whole weekend of it spend Saturday and Sunday, (July 26 & 27) learning how to “compose on the fly” plein air):

Info on Thomas’ 5 day workshop (beginning August 11) is here:

Craig Srebnik ongoing classes:

Our facebook page is here:

Kevin Macpherson will give a demonstration on Sept 6. RSVP to Scott (
Bring your gear to paint too!

(Click to Enlarge)

Welcome to our new participants Jeanie Bates and Laura Nunn. We were very happy to see you today and hope that you will come back.

Next meeting, Thursday, July 24, table topic: Big shapes and linking Shapes! Are you thinking about that? Do you have good examples? Bad examples? What can you say on the subject of big shapes and linking shapes?

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