Last week I started work on this new painting, a large landscape of a path through a wooded area. The way I begun this painting is a little different, I usually tone the canvas with burnt sienna and make a quick sketch using the same color and a little burnt umber for the darks. This time I'm using color triads, a process used by Tad Spurgeon. I've been a fan of his work for quite some time and going through his website can be such an educational experience. On the image above I started mapping out the composition in a loose manner using the first color triad, made up of burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, and ultramarine blue. Following Tad's technique I started a rough sketch with burnt sienna. After capturing the overall feeling of the landscape, alizarin crimson was added to the composition, defining areas a little better. Then comes ultramarine, which starts to define the painting's lights and darks.
Over the first pass using the first triad, the second triad gets added on top. This new color harmony is made up of manganese blue, yellow ochre, and gold ochre. I didn't realize until a week ago that manganese blue and yellow ochre can make such a beautiful green! I started mixing on the palette more than I should, I believe the lesson in this technique is placing pure colors next to each other on the painting surface and letting them mix there or play optical illusions of mixed colors.
Here's a closer look of both triads at play. When I was done with the first pass I became scared that I had ruined a perfectly good canvas. It was bright red, and although I knew that the red tones would come through the greens on top making a beautiful color harmony in the end, I still could not help to think that this was looking more like a Fauvist painting. Once I laid over some green I could see that nice red tone coming through. I have spent more time working on this painting, and although I admire and respect Mr Spurgeon's knowledge and work, I went back to my usual color palette and technique. So far this painting is coming out nicely, I'll have more images on the progress in the coming weeks.