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We hope that these articles will be helpful to artists to make better their works of art, works we are after.


Today, Jun. 28, 2009
Mixed Black Paints
Compound black, in which transparent pigments are employed, will generally go deeper and harmonize better with other colours than any original black pigment alone. Lakes and deep blues, added to common blacks, greatly increase their clearness and intensity. Ultramarine blue has evidently been employed in mixture and glazing of the fine blacks by some old masters.

Some formulas for compound black (for Old Holland and Michael Harding Paints):

- Burn Umber (50%) + ultramarine Blue (PB29) (50%) [add white to make gray]
Burn Umber (70-80%) + Prussian Blue (PB27) (20-30%). This is fast drying black.
Some painters use Raw Umber or Raw Sienna instead of Burn Umber. Raw Umber and Ultramarine Blue, favorite combination of many painters, will generally produce black darker than ivory Black. In general, painter should make black more toward brown shade rather then toward blue shade.
Instead of Prussian Blue one can use Phthalo Blue (PB15).

- Alizarin Crimson (PR83 or PR177) (80%) + Phthalo green (PG7) (20%) will produce beautiful black. More than 20% of Phthalo Green can produce unstable compound. Use only the best grade of Alizarin Crimson PR83 as Old Holland and Michael Harding are. Never make grays from this compound that are far from black. Add no more than 15% white.
If you want to make gray that are far from black, by adding white, instead of Alizarin Crimson one can use Carmine (PR221) from Holbein or Permanent Carmine from W&N.

Today Sep. 11, 2009
Still Life - Peter Claesz
Peter Claesz, Dutch Painter, completed his simple "Little Breakfast" oil painting during 1636. A table covered with green and white cloth displays a modest arrangement: a pewter plate holding a herring cut in pieces, another plate with pepper, and a wafer glass with beer. On the right side of the table lies a roll of freshly baked bread flanked by crushed hazelnut shell. On the left side is a knife with handle projected over the table edge. The table is neatly covered with white cloth impeccably clean and ironed (as the trim creases reveal). That is all there is.


What does this Still Life have to offer us aside from well composed set of essentially nothing? The table with its humble objects is surrounded by an empty background of an indefinable colour, lacking any sign that might signify its being a wall. One may assume that the table is indoors and that is placed against a wall, but lacking a view of the table legs, there is no any indication that the table is grounded and it could as well be hovering in space. Monochrome colours of the painting underline simplicity, as if the painting wishes to excuse itself for lack of symbolism. Not telling a story, this painting is purely descriptive.
Combination of a high level of lifelikeness, an absence of narrative and a shallow space, have filled scholars and writers throughout the ages with mixed feelings of admiration and irritation – admiration because of the artist’s virtuosity in rendering a nearly perfect image of reality (which makes this work to still belong to Dutch Realism), and irritation because the image has nothing more to offer than a meticulously painted recording of meaningless daily life objects. This Still Life offer us an interesting examples of how it have confronted scholars with the simple yet disturbing question of what Still Life is about.


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