Colour steps

Hello! I've just made my first attempt at getting the steps for one of the objects - the green vase (the image is a cropped one from Mark).
Does anyone have any feedback on my steps, before I start painting with them?  Thank you! Anna :)
dencal[Deleted User]ElizaKaustav


  • Anna

    Looks fine to me, but your color checker should be the final arbiter.


    [Deleted User]Annajatmarieb
  • You steps look good to me, Anna. If they pass the colour checker test then go for it. I look forward to seeing your painting.
  • Thanks @dencal and @tassieguy! As far as I could tell, I thought the steps were ok too, and matching to the colour. I'm excited to start painting! Just need the other colour groups and I'll be good to go :D
  • Anna

    It helps at the outset to mix and paint one colour group at a time. Keeps it more manageable and less pressured.


    jswartzart[Deleted User]NanaBean
  • Good point Denis! 
    Out of interest, how long have you found your mixed colours to last on the palette, if kept in the fridge? 
  • Anna

    About an extra day or two. So about five days all up. Sealed, small containers, no air space - values will be useable for about six weeks.


  • Ok, thanks.

    Here is a picture of my progress with the painting. I can't tell whether I've got the gist, and / or if there's an obvious way I can improve on it. I'd love to hear feedback. :)
  • dencaldencal -
    edited July 2016

    Don't even think of improvement until you have completed the picture.
    Magic happens as you place your last value.

    Meantime you can surround the object with some black background.


  • You've got the gist  :) , follow  Denis's advice above. Things will look weird until the canvas is covered.
  • Hi Anna,

    The steps look really good above. But it would be difficult to say anything until you cover the whole canvas. I did the very same painting but in black and white (there is nothing called Black and n White though. Some are reddish, some parts are bluish).

    Here is my painting. You may understand what are the things may go wrong while putting values.

  • AnnaAnna -
    edited July 2016
    Oh wow @Kaustav! That looks great!

    Thanks Denis and @Boudicca. So tempting to go in and "fix it"!!! Couldn't resist blending in a couple of little areas.

    Cool, I'll keep going in this way then, and see how it turns out! Hoping it'll all come together lol!
  • I agree with what's been said above, Anna. You won't be able to judge until you get more of the canvass covered. It looks good so far but it would help to get some of that dark background in first and you'll then have a better idea of how good your values are.
  • Ok cool, I'll get onto that.

    With black - Mark uses a mixture of red and blue, is that right?
    I have a tube of lamp black ("transparent" colour) - just wondering if I can use that? Does anyone have any experience with mixing it with SDM? Are there any special requirements?
  • Mark uses Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber to make black. 
  • Aha! That makes a lot more sense! My black was looking quite purple :-p
  • They are both red and blue in hue, just a lot darker valued than most other red and blue pigments.
  • @davidwwilson  Philosophically, is anything correct, or is it all about approximations? I can't create the infinite variations (well, I might be able to, if I had a lifetime), but I can work with a set number of steps :)
  • Update: it's ivory black I have (semi transparent), not lamp black. And about the medium - use less SDM than you expect to need. A little went a long way with mine.
    I've attached the pic with the black background blocked in. Sure makes a difference!
  • @anna, if you turn the painting upside down it might be easier to see how you can have both sides of the vase equal. try it, works well!
    cheers, tomas
  • AnnaAnna -
    edited July 2016
    @tnittner ok cool I'll try that. Thanks!
  • @davidwwilson ah, that makes sense! At this point of my painting, I'm finding its a process that helps me discern / appreciate the variation in value, which I've struggled with so far / feel I haven't fully understood. 
    I am wondering what to do with all the leftover paint. Looking at them, I thought my piles were small, but the paint went a long way!!
  • I have used the step system for mixing paint for some time.  It always helps in the final appearance of the painting.  It is especially useful for beginners in that it teaches you to closely observe the color variations that are an integral part of any painting.  This in and of itself will help with the overall image that is produced.  As you become more proficient in mixing colors, all the "steps" may not be so necessary.  People that aren't painting in a realistic manner aren't usually concerned with this aspect of creating a piece of art.  Realism requires very close attention to detail and color application is part of that.
  • Anna

    Looking good.


  • Go for it. Looking good...
  • looks good so far.
  • David

    Yes. Along the same lines that Mark recommends. Pushing a brush in to a wet mosaic of value tiles risks losing form, dimension and light.


  • David

    Apologies for the word "Completed" please accept the alternative phrase;

    "...until you have covered the canvas completely with the color checked values..."

    I have said recently on this topic....

    Blending is the use of a clean brush to smooth the transition between values and create a soft or lost edge. 

    Overblending is the use of this technique to excess, to the point that many of the values that turn a form are lost. The result is a rather insipid, plastic, flat shapes that do not contribute to the depth and drama of the painting. Oftentimes, overblending milks up the darks and the dimension of the shadows.

    Blending has legitimacy in creating a ceramic, hard, shiny surface or in gently sculpting the exquisite undulations in the feminine figure or a face.
    The takeaway from all this is blend by all means but blend with conscious discretion, with a jaundiced eye on what it is costing or what might be lost.

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  • You're doing fantastic @Anna!
  • dencal - tim_gier - Thanks so much, folks, for clearing this up for me. I understand the concept- I know it's so easy when using words to be misunderstood, and I misunderstood what Denis was trying to say. I can be so dumb, but I was hoping that Anna would not run into the same trouble I was having, and now everything is clear! Very sorry!
    I don't think there's any need to be sorry. A lot of people rely on other people to ask the 'dumb' questions that they're to scared to ask- in case people think they're dumb, lol.
  • Insightful discussion! Great to read the knowledge of experienced artists :)

    Here's another update. I'm afraid that by the time I get the canvas covered, the paint on the canvas will be dry :-/ but I'm really enjoying the process. I've never painted anything like this before, and never expected to! I like where it's going :)

    Thanks to everyone who has provided feedback :D this forum is wonderful :)

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  • @Anna, do you mean that you are afraid that the paint on the vase will be dry before you get the whole canvas covered, and won't be able to blend or "fix" the vase? I had that problem. I chose to blend a little to make the object (vase) a little smoother in appearance. If you are relatively happy that the tones are correct then go for it. After all it is a learning curve,the painting will still be fine !
  • @marieb that's it exactly. And I've taken that approach too. I like how it's turning out anyway. I'm doing a tiny bit of blending as I go :)
  • @davidwwilson aww thank you!
    Yes, anxiety mixed with painting is a funny thing isn't it! I've spent years trying to kick anxiety out of my painting space. It's gotten much better, I must say. I used to be afraid just to put a mark on the paper! Once I pushed through that, it was fantastic, so liberating! And so exciting! I'm in a funny space at with it at the moment. I think I've gotten to a point where I can make the pen/paintbrush do what I want (literally years of practice)... And now that that challenge is gone.. I'm actually at a bit of a loss! Where to next? Which is why I was stoked to discover Mark's free teachings. But, without sounding callous, I'm actually finding painting with his method quite easy. Which brings me back again to a sense of, where to next? You know? It's a strange space to be in. But for now, I'll just keep using his method and see where it leads me :) 
     Hope that wasn't over sharing... Have other you experienced this too? Or anyone else? If yes, what do you do with it?
  • @davidwwilson - than you for taking the time to make such a thoughtful response.
    Is Holden Caulfield this guy?

    I have had teachers say "loosen up", and wine does help lol. Maybe I've gotten too tense again. I used to have the impulse to paint, and wow that was great. I was producing so much stuff but it was just pure fun and delight. I've lost that somehow. Still mourning that / trying to get it back. It's been gone for years though :( 

    I love you're quote of 'painting is just being out loud, silently'. I will think on that.

    I no longer care about errors either. I've learnt the hard way that I can't fix them all. And then there's always the errors that improve the painting! I've accepted that I will never paint perfectly / hyper realistically.

    I hope this is an ok forum to have these kinds of conversations. I used to have an art teacher to have these kinds of conversations with, but our ways parted a few years ago. Such a shame.
  • Hello! How cool! I didn't know about this. Thanks :)
  • Here are my steps for the vase/towel. Interesting just how much colour is in those grays!!!
    Thanks to @Kaustav who gave me a heads up on that one.
    Took me about an hour to mix all these. Getting quicker already :)
  • It will become much quicker gradually. You know, sometimes having the right materials may also help you to see. A master may do a fabulous painting with one brush only, but you will find that it is the best one in the world! :)
  • AnnaAnna -
    edited July 2016
    Ok. I've had a cold (boo) which saw me out of action for a while. All my colours survived though :D Here's the latest update - the vase! I'm not add happy with this one. It looks better in the photograph.
    Talk about variations in gray though!! There were so many more than I initially mixed up. I used some of the colours from the bronze ball to get since of the "subtle" yellows.
    I'll come back to this tomorrow I think, and "fix" it...or try to anyway.
  • I may be completely wrong but it seems to me there is some misunderstanding where it comes to the idea of "completely covering the canvas" before blending. My understanding of Mark's video's about blending and his method in general is that if you have a vase, for example,  as one element of your still life, you should put in some background color around the vase and then completely cover the area of the canvas that contains the vase, getting the color and values right, before blending that area. And then move on to the next element. I did not understand him to mean that the entire canvas must be covered with paint before you blend anywhere. If you work on small canvases this may not be an issue. For an experienced painter, working on a large canvas, it may be possible to cover the whole thing before blending, but for those learning the technique, it seems overly ambitious and breaking the work into smaller areas is more doable. If you have used the color checker then you know the color and values are correct, wether they look correct at that point in the process or not. Completely covering the canvas with paint isn't going to change that.

    Again I may have completely misinterpreted Mark's teaching and if so, someone please set me straight.
  • Anna

    Looking good. Keep going. Fix after all the values are in.

    @jmac51 Every value placed on the canvas influences the perception of all the other values.
    Blending should be held off until all the values are on. After a solid and thoughtful stare, a light touch should adjust smooth and solid surfaces (ceramics, metals, foreheads) with care not to destroy the turns of form, or to milk up the shadows.


  • jmac51jmac51 -
    edited July 2016
    @dencal Yes I understand the influence of the surrounding values. My understanding of the DMP method is that you must learn to trust the color checker and know that if the color matches, the value is correct, regardless of it's perception at any point in the process. Trusting the colors you have laid down means you can proceed knowing that once the canvas in covered completely everything will look as it should, blended or not. Or am I still missing something. Being a very slow painter it's hard for me to imagine being able to cover the canvas completely for a large painting and still have the paint wet enough for blending. All of this complexity is what leaves me hesitant to dive in with oils.
  • jmac51

    I suppose staged blending (confined to one colour group at a time) would be OK. Except that it is so easy to get carried away. There is no way to judge the overall effect.

    Don't be hesitant, you are the artist, you are in control. Blend to your hearts content. Just be aware of what the painting  is losing by blending.

  • Anna said:...
    I hope this is an ok forum to have these kinds of conversations. I used to have an art teacher to have these kinds of conversations with, but our ways parted a few years ago. Such a shame.
    IME this is a great forum to have these kinds of conversations! I have an art teacher/friend to talk to but she felt threatened and came unglued at the discussion of other methods...  Far from ideal for me in learning but I just keep it out of her studio - she has a  lot to teach me. When I am there I paint mostly like she teaches. I find 'real conversation' refreshing and it encourages horizon expansion. I want to learn!
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