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Starting Again

Hi Mark & all,
I am going to give this another try. I build the shadow box, got the CDs, a new studio with lighting, bought the paints, and everything else but could never mix the paints to the correct palette always ended up as a mess. I tried many times over. I am quite a good artist as it is but I can never predict my results and I love portraiture and still life, but have yet to paint anything with Marks system that looks ok....I know it is me, I have a mental block somewhere because I know what Mark does works!, but I cannot get it to work for me...what am I missing.. I even tried with a color photo, mixing the colors on it,,..any encouragement welcome...what should I start with this time...what object would be the simplest to give me some confidence that I can do it. I no longer have the studio or proper lighting..can I do this in any room.. thanks for any feedback


  • Start simply.  Pick a color.  Take your best guess and make a mix.  Do not skimp on paint.  Use a good dollop to begin.  The paint is powerful so if you start with a small amount, the tiniest bit will push you well past the target.  Have your color wheel handy and ask the five questions.  Which is more blue etc?
    post some pics and we will help. 
    Welcome back and good luck 
  • You've made an excellent start and decisions about how to do better next time.  Looking forward to seeing your progress.
  • Keep painting - practice, practice, practice.  You say you are already a good artist and Mark's system isn't working for you.  Perhaps, it isn't for you?  I am glad you are trying, I see too many people NOT painting or creating because they don't have the "perfect" studio, set up, lighting etc....   Trust your instincts.  You will find your way.  

    @Summer is there a photo I am missing?  I am not seeing anything?

  • Julianna said:

    @Summer is there a photo I am missing?  I am not seeing anything?

    A photo would have been nice and more to go on but I thought "shadow box, got the CDs, a new studio with lighting, bought the paints" showed a considerable investment of time and money already.  Something to see is likely forthcoming.  :)
  • Sometimes, I'm not able to see attachments so just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.  Thank you.
  • Maybe start with just values. A black and white piece of something simple. Then progress to color. But I agree with Julianna. Practice is the best thing. 
  • I may be reading too much into this but I'm going to assume what you are having the most difficulty with is following Mark's work flow to lay out the color steps. I'm guessing once you have laid out the steps, you don't see the colors you will actually paint with. You have to remember that laying out the steps is to make sure your values are right. Use the right value and change the color as necessary a little at a time. @Rich_A suggests starting with B&W and that might be a good way to begin.
  • Thanks Bob - I think you have hit the nail on the head  - we are not supposed to created the right colors when laying out the steps..just get the values right and mix the colors accurately after this - is this what you mean?
  • Yes. It's all about controlling the values.
  • This might sound stupid, but could you explain what you mean by 'controlling the values'..can you give me some examples if possible..I feel quite inadequate with this system
  • I think thats far from a poor explanation @PaulB, clear concise and helpful.

    I wonder if Kurt had to ask for his ball back when it landed there.
  • Thanks @PaulB for clearing that up. 
  • Holy COw @PaulB   - that needs it's own lesson thread - what a fabulous and clear explanation!!!!!!!!!!!!!     Seriously, I hate for it to get lost in this thread - can you post something like that in "Painting" category - a file that is easy for people to read and refer to often.   WOW     that was impressive stuff!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Julianna said:
    ... that needs it's own lesson thread ...
  • Excellent description of mixing paint in steps.
  • Paul, thank you so much - this is fantastic information. I parked everything related to art for the last few days, in total frustration - I tried to paint a green leaf on my table and could not match the green colors I mixed, with the colors on the leaf - no matter what I did they would not match. I will reread what you have said above and try again. The daft thing is that I can paint a still life or portrait using my own color scheme, ie, colors that do not relate exactly to the source image. ( I suppose because they are all wrong, they all match!). The reason I like what Mark teaches ( although I still havent a clue how to do it) is that it is a system of realism that works in all cases, whereas, most of the time, the finished work that  I reproduce/paint is more of a fluke than anything else. Bob, I think that if I can crack this, I can do amazing work - because I could always paint/draw without any training. Here goes!. Thanks for your detailed reply.
  • @jchesnan I understand the frustration, matching colors from life is difficult.  I’m still struggling with that.  You could try this:  Photograph that leaf, print and laminate it, then work off that.  Matching is so much easier against a lamination.  It might get you past the frustration and on to the part where you see a nice painting.  Get your color-matching confidence up.

    If you can already do portraits using your own color scheme, that means you can already judge relative values, which is a huge help.

    Also, please freely post photos of the color you are trying to match, your palette and painting, and we’ll be able to give more precise advice.
  • @jchesnan ;  I'm writing to tell you that I relate to your anguish!  It is such a horrible feeling to really want to do something and not be able to do it, no matter how hard you try. But I can tell you from my experience with Mark's method that you can make improvements in rather quick time. The painting I am doing at the moment (the first using the DMP method) is 30-40% better than anything I've done in the past for the simple reason that I have been able to apply Mark's principles. In the past there were no consistent principles that I could apply - I would use a little tip here from one teacher, another little tip there from a different teacher, and in the end my painting had no kind of internal consistency or harmony to it at all. And when I encountered a problem I had no PRINCIPLES to guide me, so I would throw down my brushes and give up.   So I guess the answer is persistence and have faith that you are learning some excellent principles and a real method and YOU WILL SUCCEED.
  • Thanks Paul & Dianna, I will keep trying,
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