Painting the Spitfire
Detail from the painting showing the ranges of green on the golf course and that lovely Cadmium Red Deep Hue in use on the roundel and gun muzzle tapes.

11. Using Colours in the Painting

23/02/2021
A short aside on my use of paint colours
(Part 11 of a series on creating an original Battle of Britain oil painting)
This might be a good moment to digress on to a quick explanation of paint colours that the art is worked up from for those that are interested in such things. I tend to prefer a very simple palette, working mainly with the three primaries and a white. Over the years, I seem to keep gravitating back to the same three base colours: Prussian Blue, Permanent Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Yellow Hue. I find I can generally get the range and depth of colour I want for 90% of the painting from these, using white to tweak the values where necessary.

My tubes of paint, together with the jar with my thinner in
My tubes of paint, together with the jar with my thinner in
 

I find that using this simple range of colours promotes colour harmony in the art and allows me to ‘find’ mixed colours again on the pallet fairly easily. I use a water soluble thinner with the paint and always keep a little pot of water soluble painting medium on the side of the palette (the little foil ‘tub’ on the corner in the picture) to mix in where necessary to obtain the right sort of ‘fatness’ in the paint. The different colours seem differently ‘hungry’ for the oil, so the mix of thinner to medium varies all the time, depending on the colours and the build of the painting.

My pallete showing the complex mixes of colour that come from a very simple set of primaries
My pallete showing the complex mixes of colour that come from a very simple set of primaries
 

Some might find my ‘tin foil over a biscuit tin lid’ palette a little primitive. I find it works, born out of expedience when I could little afford materials on farm worker’s wages, it has continued. I find all the little mixes on the palette useful references for remixing the same colours as I go along, and when the palette becomes too messy to be able to produce nice clean colours anymore, I just change the foil and start again. With my small paintings one foil does the trick, but a bigger painting like this often uses two, although as I discussed in my 'Context' blog, I often find I can use the left-over paint to mix the ground for the next painting.,

I do use a few other colours. In this painting, the black came out for the aircraft nacelle, but little else. I also found it necessary to use a few lighter colours, still working from primaries. A Lemon Yellow gave me a better range of saturated light greens for the golf course grasses, a Cerulean Blue gave me the right tones for the light blue in the sky and a Cadmium Red Deep Hue for that lovely red on the Spitfire’s roundels and the tape over the gun muzzles.

Sorry for this rather detailed digression, but there are those who ask! Back to the nearly finished painting...