Chistensen Color

The Golden Hour— 18 x24″ Painted right off Wellio Rd. in Roswell along the Chattahoochee River

2018 is here, with it the end of the holidays and the beginning of getting back to work. As a painter you must be completely self motivated, your own task master, marketing manager, financial officer —and well, everything. I’m set up to teach a class this spring at Kennesaw State and even though it’s just one class and part of their continuing education department, I’ve taken it very seriously and intend to do the best I can for my students. It’s a bit of experiment to see how I like teaching and how effective I can be. I hope to use it as a primer for teaching workshops in the future. If you have some interest and live in the area, look for my Oil Painting class in the Spring OLLI — Osher Lifelong Learning Institute catalog(http://ccpe.kennesaw.edu/olli/) —we will cover basics but I will have my eye out for some willing students who may wish to expand their learning and get out for some Plein Air. All in all it will be fun and affordable.

I’m always looking for a spark of info and sometimes a class or video can be just the trick. Recently I was given a gift of the Scott Christensen video, 3 Landscape Studies (http://lilipubsorders.com/CHRISTENSEN-Scott/products/20/) by my wife for Christmas. I love his work—mostly western mountain landscapes in the tradition of Edgar Payne. So many have been influenced by this painter that I was a bit shy to adapt too many of his techniques but I can honestly say that a few things he stressed hit home for me and might have improved my work.
He uses a very limited palette —Titanium white, Ultramarine blue, Permanent Red, and Lemon Yellow Cad.—ad to this two self mixed colors, a grey built out of those colors in somewhat equal amounts and a yellowish tan khaki —again mixed from those basic colors. I found this interesting and simple —a good thing, especially for me, as I tend to go off the deep end with my color. The big change is no Ocher and Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red or Orange —All very prominent colors on my palette. The red in not overly saturated —like Cadmium so it takes a bit more to warm things up and it’s not as dominant in a mix. This gets a bit more paint in —especially in darks, something everyone always runs short on. Darks shade either blue or red. I mix Ultramarine Blue—a somewhat de saturated color to begin with at 60-70%, to Alizarin at 30-40% and a bit of yellow (2%) to get my darkest dark. Permanent red —not being as saturated requires a bit more paint. but it’s easier to mix at about a 50/50 blue and red +the Yellow.

Winter Grays 12 x16″ —painted at Mabry Farm using a limited palette

Another key aspect of his procedures is his pre mixing. Of course all of us have done this but I am not religious about it —well not until I saw this video and decided to give it a good honest try. I’ve been very pleased with the results.
I’m a sight size guy, so my view is pretty much transcribed onto my board at the same scale— I observe and mix the colors starting with the darkest dark. Then I work on picking out the other dominant colors and building them—I mimic Christensen here, mixing in some of that neutral gay into almost every mix—especially the greens. He says he mixes the gray before hand and tubes it up himself along with that khaki tan color—I have not tried this but certainly the gray is rather easy to obtain, if you paint as much as most of us you’ll have some left over from your last outing or on your studio palette—easy enough to transfer into your box before you go out. The khaki is another matter—you’re going to have to mix this purposely or perhaps buy a titanium buff—no big thing.

Pond Reflections —12 x16 Painted at Lieta Thompson Park

This method, although it slows you down to start actually improves your speed and gives you better cleaner color and in my case plenty of it so I can do the thicker applications that I prefer. Bring a full size palette knife because this will speed things up. It also helps you from over stroking —or petting as they say. You have plenty of paint so you just use it more directly instead of stretching it out. You can’t paint a good plein air painting with out the proper amount of paint. And again I found that I actually used less paint! You have the colors you need and you are better at mixing them all at the same time than you are on the fly. Often, deep into a painting I run out and find myself tired and just using any dark or any light just to keep at it.
The result is lively grays, less acidic greens and cleaner color. Nuff said…give it a try!

Final Portrait 12 x12″ Painted at Mabry Farm

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