Forest Sketch 4

Forest Sketch 4

Pencil: Palomino Blackwing
Paper: Canson sketch universal, 5.5″ x 8.5″ 65lb

This pencil has an interesting history. The version I have is just the Blackwing, not the 602 which I’ve read has a little firmer lead. This one is dark and feels smooth.

Also, I updated my previous post on verdigris with some new photos. I may try to do some more with it in the future, mainly to try making a purer verdigris pigment as I’m sure that what I made has impurities.

Snow Tops, after Arkhip Kuindzhi

Snow Tops Copy 1

Oil on canvas, 7″ x 5″

I made this copy of another painting by Arkhip Kuindzhi from memory. It’s probably been a couple of months since the last time I looked at it and I wasn’t looking at it while painting, so the details are a little different.

I think this small canvas was originally a practice painting that I was making with a palette knife, but it wasn’t very well thought out, so after it dried I covered everything with blue in preparation for a different idea that I didn’t end up trying. Today I decided to just try painting something, and I remembered that I’ve wanted to copy this painting for a long time now.

The paints I used were mostly French ultramarine blue, terre verte, titanium white, and a little cadmium yellow pale. Also there’s a tiny amount of phthalo green and terracotta mixed in for the darker colors in the lower left corner. For the river I actually just wiped away the ultramarine and terre verte mix that I had covered that area with so the blue ground would show through.

Verdigris Part 2: Oil Paint and Matching

Verdigris 5

After my first verdigris post I made some more pigment and now I finally got around to making some proper oil paint with that, seen on the left of the image above. This was made with poppyseed oil and it was very easy to mull, requiring almost no effort. The finished paint is a really nice turquoise that’s extremely transparent and has extremely low tinting strength. I used a 1:1 mix with zinc white to tint it and it was still very strongly affected even by zinc white, so glazing seems to be the best use for this pigment in oil.

As I mentioned before, almost no one at all presently sells verdigris as either a dry pigment or as a paint of any kind, even though for a couple thousand years it was among the most vivid greens available. A big reason for that is the mix I made on the right side of the image above. Verdigris is moderately toxic and well known to have problems with lightfastness, but the mix I made using only lightfast, non-toxic, and inexpensive paints is nearly a perfect match. I used a lot of terre verte (hoping it’d lend transparency and low tinting strength), french ultramarine, a very small touch of phthalo green to increase the chroma, and zinc white (again hoping for transparency).

The mix isn’t as transparent and has far higher tinting strength, even though I used so much terre verte. Plus, the mix was only intended to match verdigris. Exceeding its chroma with the same hue is very easy with modern pigments, and the high transparency could probably be matched by adding some painting medium to the mix.

In conclusion, my curiosity of what this historical pigment was like has been satisfied and I can now say that it really is an obsolete pigment. It was fun and interesting to make, but there is really nothing that it would offer today that isn’t done better by modern pigments.

Verdigris 4

Here’s a photo of the second batch of pigment that I made in the copper dish, again using white vinegar. I tried using a different kind of vinegar, I think rice, in a separate dish but it only had a minimal development of verdigris and didn’t look any different.

UPDATE

Verdigris 6

Left: Verdigris mixed with cadmium yellow pale (Winsor & Newton, about 15 year old tube)
Right: the same cadmium yellow mixed with blues and greens to approximately match the mixture on the left, as a control sample
Photographed after 48 hours.

As you can see, the verdigris appears to have darkened significantly. I believe it’s in reaction to the sulphur in the cadmium yellow. From what I’ve read verdigris can also darken just from sulphur in the air.

Verdigris 7

For some reason the original swatch of verdigris, on the left, has also changed color in comparison to the control swatch on the right. In this case it’s more of a hue shift than a darkening though. This swatch was made a little less than 4 days ago.

So my experiment with making verdigris probably didn’t make the purest or highest quality pigment possible, and there’s obviously things that I don’t know about chemistry, but what I’ve seen has reinforced my opinion that this historical pigment is obsolete when I consider that I have never seen paint change like this before.

Genuine Terracotta Oil Paint

Terracotta Oil Paint 5

Here’s some oil paint that I made from a shard of a broken terracotta pot. Some paint brands like to sell a paint called terracotta, but here I now have the real thing. Genuine broken pot paint. :)

I photographed all of this in the afternoon sun. The tints are with titanium white, but I didn’t try too hard to make it exactly even ratios this time. The other two paints in the photo are just there for comparison.

It actually does make sense to do this when you consider what natural red ochres and synthetic mars reds are made of. Basically, red ochre is primarily colored by iron oxides and, depending on the source, also contains large amounts of things like clay, quartz, gypsum, etc. Mars red is made through chemical reactions using ingredients like powdered iron and is baked at high temperatures. A mars red is very similar to a natural red earth but without the mineral impurities. To make a terracotta pot (or red bricks) that mars red is then mixed with things like clay. So, as I’m understanding it, a powdered terracotta pot really isn’t much different from a natural red ochre.

All I used was this one small shard of the pot. Before now I had actually been putting the pieces into the bottoms of other pots to improve the drainage. To grind it into powder I switched back to my old granite mortar and pestle. It actually broke down a lot easier than I expected, and I only ended up using a about a third of the powder.

To make it into paint I mulled the powder with a mix of linseed and poppyseed oils. Of all the drying oils used to make oil paint for artists, linseed oil has the highest percent of linolenic acid. It dries the fastest and makes the strongest paint film, but it also yellows the most over time. Poppyseed oil has little if any linolenic acid, but one of the highest percentages of linoleic acid. It’s one of the slowest to dry and doesn’t make as strong of a film, but has a lighter color to begin with and is supposed to not yellow nearly as much. That’s why some brands specifically use it for very light colors such as white, where even a small amount of yellowing would be noticeable. The mix of the two oils should produce a paint with a stronger film than just poppyseed and that doesn’t yellow as much as linseed with a drying time between the two. Some brands of paint do also mix oils for reasons like that. Mostly though I did the mix because I’m running low on linseed oil but I have plenty of poppyseed. :)

Forest Sketches 2 and 3

Forest Sketch 3

Pencils: Grumbacher Pentalic woodless pencil HB, Koh-i-Noor Progresso woodless black colored pencil
Paper: Canson sketch universal, 5.5″ x 8.5″ 65lb

For this one I was thinking about how there’s several large oak trees near my house and every evening the birds like to socialize in the branches. As the sun sets the shadows go up the tree until they reach the top. I used an eraser for the highlights on the branches.

Forest Sketch 2b

Pencil: Grumbacher Pentalic woodless pencil HB
Paper: Paper: Canson sketch universal, 5.5″ x 8.5″ 65lb

I drew this because I thought I had lost the smaller sketchbook that had the first version of this scene with deer in the forest. There’s supposed to be water at the bottom of the page but it doesn’t really look like it. I probably should have made the water darker.

Forest Sketch 2a

Pencil: Zebra mechanical pencil .5mm
Paper: Canson sketch esquisse, 3″ x 5″ 50lb

Crayon Drawings

Crayon 1

I’m sick with a cold right now, and so busy, but things’ll be back to normal soon. Here’s a few drawings that I made using my two and a half year old niece’s wax crayons on colored paper and note cards.

In the second to last drawing I was making whatever animals she wanted to see. She likes cats. In the last one I was showing her the difference between a moose and a mouse. I’ve read that what we call a moose in the US is called an elk in the rest of the world and what we call an elk is actually a wapiti (though it’s rare to hear that name).