Monday, January 27, 2014

A Favorite Color

There is not much change here, except for the addition of the wash over the canyon land. But I wanted to share a few secrets about a standard color that I use and show you just how easy it is to see the outlines through the wash that I applied since the last post.
After you have been oil painting for a while, several colors will keep showing up on your palette. They will become your go-to colors when starting a painting or when solving problem areas. Their properties and limitations will be anticipated. They may often be the solution for whatever it is you are trying to accomplish and you will instinctively grab for them under certain conditions. It is only then that you can establish a consistent method of painting and develop the familiarity of the "why" and "how" your images transform.

Burnt Sienna is one of my favorite colors for many reasons. I am partial to the Winsor Newton brand, because I have used it for years, and the consistency and drying time is now predictable.

Here are some of the ways I use WN Burnt Sienna and other appealing qualities that you may want to consider for your own oil paintings:

1.      The Wash— Thinned with turpentine (or equivalent), this paint serves as an excellent base coat, upon which other colors can be applied.

2.      Developing Skin Tones – Since burnt sienna is has transparent qualities and a reddish brown tint, it can be mixed with other warm colors or white to create beautiful flesh tones.

3.      Fast-drying Properties – One coat of a burnt sienna wash that is applied to a cotton or linen canvas will dry to touch overnight, without the use other drying mediums.

4.      Warming Agent – Adding this color to selected opaque paints will tone down the vibrancy and add warmth. This is especially evident with cadmium yellow and bright greens and is beneficial for painting landscapes, where the amber light of a sunset casts shadows of earth tones verses the brighter tones often found in mid-day light.

In my next post, you will learn why I chose magenta for the sky.


  1. Great info especially for those that are new to oil painting. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thank you for commenting, Vicki. This is definitely a slower method of painting, but once the foundation is prepared, the process becomes more interesting :)


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