Gamut Masking Exercises

I finally had some time to work on gamut masking. The principle is simple: take a color wheel (In my case a printed out YURMBY wheel), cut a shape our of a piece of paper, and overlay it on the wheel. The visible area is what is called a Color Gamut, containing all of the possible colors you can mix within the shape.
The most common shape is a triangle, which makes it easy to get a decent variety and have a good amount of color choices within the range.

The technique for Gamut Masking is well explained in various posts by James Gurney (I believe he kind of invented this method):
Gamut Masking at Gurney Journey

After masking out a triangle, the goal is mixing the colors you have at each vertex, called Subjective Primaries. Additionally, Subjective Secondaries (that is, colors found on each side’s midpoint) can be mixed, to further save time when painting.

Premixing is really time consuming, at least for me, being a rookie. Still, it does save a huge amount of time when painting later on. Here are my attempts:

Warm Gamut

Gamut Mask Warm


This was my first mask, pale pinks and greens, strong yellows. I actually grabbed this from Richard Robinson’s Interactive Gamut Mask Tool. But I mirrored it horizontally when printing out, as I prefer having warm colors on the right hand side.

Gamut Mask Warm Palette

I then matched the color at each end. Starting from the top left, the third yellow, the fourth pink, the third green. Then, I expanded these into 5 different values to make Color Strings. I skipped the secondaries, and painted the next swatch.

Gamut Mask Warm Swatches


Lastly, I applied it to my test landscape.


Gamut Mask Warm TestNot having any blue, I had to rely on grays to keep balance in the scheme. I am quite happy with the result, although it looks a bit muddy. Pinky shadows help green look greener (which might as well look too starking in the context, and might have been looking better if a good deal duller)

Cool Gamut

I then swapped the triangle the opposite way, and using the same complementary pink/green, I basically replaced yellow with blue. Kind of challenging.

Gamut Mask Cool Gamut Mask Cool Palette


I ended up with my blue (ultramarine plus white only) being way too washed out/ Blue having the top chroma at its lowest value, I used the out-of-the tube one for my darkest tone, and killed saturation by adding white.

Gamut Mask Cool Swatches


The resulting swatch sees blue being way inside the wheel, more than I really wanted, but I guess it’s no use with blues on higher values.

Gamut Mask Cool Test

Painting a landscape is far more complex without yellow, than without green. This type of gamut gives a very cold look to the picture, making it look like a frozen, lifeless landscape.
Here is a final comparison between the two
Warm and Cool Gamut Tests



Ths kind of landscape might in any case not be ideal for testing out gamuts, as it lacks enough hue variety in the high chroma range.


Experiments with a limited palette

Over the last few days I tried experimenting different limited palettes on the same painting. I did it as part of the course on Mastering Color by Richard Robinson, and grabbed the following image (part of one of his workshops) as reference:
New Zealand Landscape

I first made a black and white study to try to define lights and darks, then moved to a few limited palettes (and I admit the transition is more painful than it seems!).
All studies are about 6.5 cm wide. I wanted to push the middle mountain back in the distance so I also made it lighter and bluer.
Yellow Ochre + Burnt Sienna + Ultramarine Blue + White
Limited Palette NZ 1I felt too limited by the absence of a strong light color, so I switched my yellow to a Cadmium Yellow.

Limited Palette NZ 2

In the first one, I realized the middle distance mountain and tree line were way too gray, so I tuned up chroma. However, I tried getting it so green that I lowered value as well, making it look closer (#2) and odd. I then painted it all again and was quite pleased with the third one. Still, despite being the better of all tests (in my opinion), the middle distance mountain still has something wrong. Whilst the the light color is acceptable, the shade is too saturated and way too light (taking off color makes it vanish into the rest of the mountain. The scheme is nice as it’s an almost complementary orange/blue.
Gamut Test on Limited Palette

Being undecided on the warm/cool choices, I painted a study using only Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine plus white:

WarmCool Exercise 1


Yes, it makes no sense. However, by taking away any possible green I noticed I got less scared on mixing decisions and placements. Not being distracted by trying to get the color I saw, I purely focused on value (kind of difficult in this case for me to get the hang of) and warm/cool hues.
I used the midpoint grayish pink between red and blue as my neutral, red/pink for the warm, blue for the cool. It really helped me getting the feeling of which zones I can paint cool, and which warm, in my final painting.

Lastly, I added Lemon Yellow (ugh, I don’t really like it) to Alizarin and Ultramarine:
Limited Palette NZ last

The first one is really fiddled, I even scraped some colors off with the palette knife and tried again. Apart from that, it seems fairly harmonious. I was unsure about the dark brown of the tree shadow.
Limited Palette in Oils NZ Really Last
The photo here washed out my colors a bit. In any case, I was unsatisfied of the muddy look of the top one, because the shadow is way too brown and lacks the green’s complementary, purple. Therefore, I went for an almost pure Alizarin in the last (bottom) one. I am happier with the result. I also tried making the tree darker and could use a duller green, closer to the reference, thanks to the dark purple.

All in all, I still prefer the Cadmium Yellow one to this. I also went too high in chroma for the green, as Lemon Yellow heads way towards the cold spectrum. I should really get a better Cadmium Yellow Light to use in this painting.

Next up: Gamut Masking!


How to deal with excessively oily paints for wet-on-wet (and new landscape!)

I finally got around the (before) mysteries of wet-on-wet. I struggled for months trying to have a color layered on top of another without having it contaminated, unsuccessfully. Then, I read several topics on WetCanvas stating the real deal for wet on wet (specifically, Bob Ross’ and Bill Alexander’s styles) is paint oiliness.

Right after reading it, I wanted to experiment myself an see if that was the catch…it was! I laid down a few blobs on a paper towel, let them sit for more than one hour, than painted using them.
How to make oil paint firmer for wet on wetSo, if you still can’t get the hang of it yourself, here is how to make oil paint stiffer for wet on wet! Make sure you don’t leave blobs on the towel too long, or you’ll end up with them being unusable. It all comes down to your brand: Winsor & Newton’s WInton paints are claimed to be firmer, and better suited for this technique (I just ordered some tubes, still waiting for them). On the other hand, Talens Rembrandt and Van Gogh  seem to be excessively oily (My yellow and red here).

For your interest, starting from the bottom left, I have burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue, nickel azo yellow, scarlet lake, mars black, yellow ochre, titanium while.
I wanted to test the new consistency out on a full scale painting, and here is what I came up with!

Peaceful Stream

Yes, there are plenty of mistakes 😀 As always! I first started out with swatches made with the Gamut Masking Method, but ran out of them and made a real mess trying to match the right colors again. Those greens on the trees are outside my gamut! And the trees themselves went a bit over where I wanted, covering an excessive part of the river and side hills… but oh, well! That is it!

I will post and update soon on gamut masking and color mixing!

p.s. I added phthalo blue and lemon yellow to my previous palette, and almost didn’t use mars black and ultramarine for this


Yet again, Wet on Wet Oils Landscapes!

Got a bigger canvas, which unfortunately was not stretched decently enough to try out a big painting. I didn’t want to trash it of course, so I took a chance and made a couple of other small wet-on-wet sketches. I had a reference image for the first 2, while other ones are totally from imagination (and I guess it’s noticeable!). Also, the new canvas (first 3 pictures) has a really nasty tooth which I don’t like at all.

Wet On Wet Oils landscape exercise 1Wet On Wet Oils landscape exercise 2

Wet On Wet Oils landscape exercise 3

Wet On Wet Oils landscape exercise 4


Also, Nickel Azo Yellow seems to be mixing a bit better with ultramarine (last one), while lemon yellow appears to be too weak, losing its tinting properties when mixed with white (first and third).




Wet on Wet Oils exercises (skies and mountains)

I finally (somehow) managed to get around the excessively wet background when dealing with Bob Ross’s wet on wet oils technique. As far as I can tell, the secret is all in applying as little paint as possible, same for the white medium, which I made up mixing titanium white and linseed oil in roughly 50/50 proportion. Got a very small amount on the brush, and put it on the canvas with circular motion, keeping the brush itself perpendicular to the surface. Having a light striking on it, I could tell which areas had too much by the excessive sheen on them.
The canvas was actually not completely white, but definitely dirty because of previous tests, that’s why the following look, needless to say, “polluted” 😀

cloudscape_test mountainscape_ww_test

Yes, the foreground mountain is totally off, and the snow in the shadow part is reflecting a blue sky that is not there 😀 Still, the point was getting it on evenly and letting it fall off the palette knife nicely.again_mountainscapeIn this one, I brushed in the background peaks using a filbert only, to try to achieve a (somehow) depth of field effect. Might be eccessively blurred though!


Oils still life – WIP

I’ve been recently tried to wrap up what I know about oils… and ended up realizing I can’t reasonably dive into Bob Ross’s wet-on-wet technique without having, at least, explored the medium’s capabilities a bit more in depth. Therefore, I decided to challenge myself in the traditional (somehow :D) oil painting technique, layer after layer, week after week. Here is where I got.  The first image is just the base sketch on a toned ground, shaded ever so slightly to give it a defined shape:Oils Still Life WIP Stage 1 - Blocking out


Then, the main values’ underpainting, Burnt Umber (which I also used for the sketch above) and Titanium White only
Oils Still Life WIP 1 - UnderpaintingI’m particularly happy with the rose, so far. Of course, I hope I won’t mess it all up with color!
Geez, this is going to be long 😀



Getting into Oil Painting… at last!

After months of struggle trying to refine a room and make it decent enough for a painting studio, I made it! Yes-sir. And here is my new studio at last!
My new painting Studio

I couldn’t wait and immediately got involved with oils. I first make a quick blue/white sketch of some peppers (you can see them on the small table easel in the picture), then another small test of the wet-on-wet technique I saw some videos about on Art Tutor. Well, I liked it, and searched more info about it. That way I came across some amazing Oil Landscape videos by Kevin Hill (see here his website: PaintWithKevin) and eventually found out that he learned thanks to the old PBS tv show broadcasted in the eighties and early nineties, hosted by Bob Ross. His technique is just amazing, I couldn’t help buying some bigger brushes and giving it a try (you can see the beginning on the big easel on the left).

Here is the final result:



Being the first one, I’m “somehow” satisfied. I should have played more with aerial perspective but i ended up with a sea of paint and admittedly had to wipe it off almost to the bare canvas a couple of times. In any case, decent as a starting point!

See you soon with other oils then! …and not only, of course!

P.s. I didn’t use any reference image, it’s just straight out of my crazy brain