After the blizzard we had last week, it was really nice (albeit a little bizarre) to have a day of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70′s on Monday. So I took advantage of it and went over to to our local Bryan Park to do a little painting. I had some other work to do in the morning, so by the time I got there I only had about an hour and a half to paint on site:
This is a 12×9 oil on linen panel. The rocks were more of a challenge than I expected but it was a good exercise, and I plan to return to have another go at this scene to rework the composition and do a better job with some of the values. I also saw a few other spots in the park that interested me, and with it being so near my house, I will definitely return at different times of the day.
I’m still using a pretty limited palette both in the studio and en plein air. I have been experimenting lately with my red; trying to find ONE tube that can act as a substitute for the two or three tubes of red that I commonly use (alizarin crimson, permanent rose, and sometimes cadmium red light.) What I’d like to do is try and limit the number of tubes I bring outside to lighten my load and get better/faster at mixing my colors.
Alizarin crimson works pretty well to this end, but sometimes the color doesn’t have the “punch” I’d like, expecially if I’m painting sunsets or flowers. On the other hand, it works well to mix deep purples, browns, and darker values in general. Permanent rose is great for that brighter punch, but then I’m challenged to use it for deeper values and still keep the color looking “red”. I find cad. red light the most limiting of the bunch, though it works great for some things also.
To confuse matters even more, paint colors that go by the same name vary widely between manufacturers. Windsor & Newton’s alizarin crimson is a bright, and relatively clean and versatile color, but it’s permanance rating is listed as “B”, moderately durable. Gamblin offers a “permanent alizarin”, which has been my fall back, but it is a good deal duller and darker than W&N’s, and tends to create a muddier color when tinted. So right now I am experimenting with a quinacridone red by Williamsburg Oil Paint company. This is a definte contender, though it is such a clean pure and strong color that it may require a little TOO much work to tone the mixtures down, which isn’t exactly desirable in the field when the light changes so quickly. Quinacridones are also modern pigments and tend to be a lot more expensive than some of the other reds.
Any way, I’m still experimenting, but if you’re an oil painter and have a solution or suggestion, I’d love to hear it. What red would you choose if you had to pick just one? I may stick with my old tried and true (permanent alizarin) and finish the color charts I started a long while ago to see if I can get a better handle on mixing it. But I’m open to other ideas. Artists, if you work with oils and have a suggestion, let me know, and be sure to identify the manufacturer you use as well as the color name.