A Twitch in My Right Arm

Quickly! There is a disturbing itch developing near the crown of your head. Scratch it!!!

When you scratched, did you draw blood or make a wound of any kind? Obviously, not. Since you inflicted no damage, how much pressure did you use? In what direction did you scratch? How many strokes did you use? Did you use fingernails or finger tips? Did you satisfy the itch? Yes? If so, how did you know when you were finished scratching? When it didn’t itch anymore? How did you know that?

My guess is that we all developed this reflexive and second nature skill through tens of thousands of ‘itch scratching’ occurrences. In other words, a whale of a lot of PRACTICE ! You know exactly how to scratch and don’t even think about it much when you do it . . . right? Of course!!

Color mixing and learning about color characteristics and applying that stuff in a painting is much more than pulling the ‘right crayon’ from the box. It really is about understanding the color relationships you are building into the painting. It is how this color is going to react with the other colors in the painting.

But . . . . . . . How does one KNOW about relationships and how a color will react with the others next to it, away from it, mixed with it, surrounded by it etc? How many books have been written about color? How many opportunities to practice mixing different greens have you,( the artist), taken to fill reams of canvas or paper to achieve that “knowing” of when it is right. How many different colors on your palette are possible to use in the mixing of greens? How much PRACTICE have you put in to learn it? Are you waiting for the right moment when you need that certain green to figure it out? Or, are you developing the skill quietly by yourself so, when the need arises, you can deliver it in spades?

I am preparing a first time three day workshop on Color Relationships to be given in Murphys, California near the end of this month. 25 participants will be there to learn more about the utility of color, color harmonies and color relationships. At least, we will be able to put out enough knowledge to make any painter “dangerous” with color if they develop and PRACTICE their skills AFTER the workshop.

How does one explain color harmony? Comments anyone? What about color relationships? How does one explain that? How does one awaken the thinking muscle about color when one is the teacher? I have ideas and would be interested in yours. Drop me a note or comment. Meanwhile, our house is still ‘the gallery’ for open studio. I am cleaning house again today and fussing with details and more outdoor clean up to get ready for tomorrow.

I am sure you would be interested in knowing my right arm is under severe “twitch observation” since I have not been able to find a moment to actively paint. The twitch is from brush neglect! And it is painful!!

7 thoughts on “A Twitch in My Right Arm”

  1. Hi Mike, thanks for taking the time to drop by my blog the other day. I know you are very busy at the moment. Hope the open house is going well. For me composition and tone have always been easier to handle than colour relationships but as you say these are the key to making us “dangerous painters” (love that expression). Its about technical understanding but also about perception I think – whenever we put a colour down looking at it against all the colours around it. It is far more than just understanding the colour wheel. I have just started using oils after using acrylics for quite some time and I love the richness of oils but am finding it harder to make the subtle colour adjustments as I paint. But it has to be done. I keep meaning to cut out a small (say 1″) square from the middle of a piece of card and pass that over different areas of my painting to isolate the different colour juxtapositions irrespective of the objects themselves.
    Must go. Your paintings are wonderful by the way!

  2. Good idea for a workshop Mike. I just attended a presentation by Gamblin paints technical rep, Scott Gellatly, who talked alot about the difference between the classical colors (mineral based),the Impressionist colors (metal based) and the modern colors(synthetic based). I always wondered, when say two bright colors of a mineral based paint such as cadmiums were mixed why the color intensity was neutralized and it has to do with partical size and shape suspended in the binder. The modern colors have much smaller and regular shaped particals allowing for a much more intense color mix. You can get alot of interesting info from http://www.gamblincolors.com/

  3. Mike, how did the studio tour go? You must be exhausted. I’m wondering about the twitch in your arm. I hope you get to paint something soon. We wouldn’t want the twitch to turn into a full blown muscle spasm!

  4. Open studio is going great, Silvi! We are surviving under the continuous flow of traffic through the house and finding lots of new friends and people of like mind! Sales are going well, though it hasn’t reached the pulse of the last several years. Thanks for your thoughts. I should be back at the easel soon!

  5. Great question to ponder on this weekend, Mike. Why do we make our color choices and how do we learn to make them better? Oh yes, and how do we execute them?

    Practice and experimentation is the path we use get there but study, reading, observing, asking other artists, and above all critical thinking of our own methods and habits, can help open our eyes to the world of color.

    I am always in awe of artists who nail color and values and seem to know the science and magic of color. Those are the “Dangerous Painters”

    Great post Mike!

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