Painting: My Copper Kettle Studies

Copper Kettle Study 1: Payne's Gray and White Only

In mid-November I went back to my painting class after a two month hiatus. I had to earn some dough before I could return to class. In the time that I was away from it, my stress levels soared, I got depressed, and things looked bleak. I’m not saying all of this was related to not painting—there was plenty of other stuff going on. But I remember thinking during all of that, I just want to paint. I yearned for it. I decided for the sake of my mental health that continuing my classes was good for me.

And it is. I’m now three more classes in and I’m still loving it. This is a series of three paintings of a copper kettle. The first was the black and white one above. We were instructed to use only Payne’s gray and white. The point of the study was to focus only on value and not on color. I have a lot to learn about this, but value is the relationship of dark and light. With the two paint colors I mixed a middle gray, then a light gray and a dark gray.

Color Wheel

Modern Color Wheel from My Class

Goethe’s Color Wheel (for Fun and Because It’s Pretty)

After Thanksgiving we were given a new exercise: Paint the same subject in basically the same position on the same background using complementary colors, which are opposite on the color wheel. When mixed in equal proportions, they should create a neutral gray. I’ve learned that in painting “gray” is not so specific a shade as it is in my mind. There are lots of grays and, well, isn’t that wonderful?

Copper Kettle Study 2: Viridian and Red Orange Only

This second study above was painted with a blue-green and a red-orange. All the colors you see were mixed from those two and then tinted with white to ultimately fill my palette with 15 different colors. My kettle wasn’t in the exact same position as in the first study, but the effect is the same. (I just noticed there is a diagonal shadow in the bottom right corner of these photos. That’s not in the painting; it’s in my window and the photographs.)

Copper Kettle Study 3: Triad of Orange, Sap Green, and Violet

This one is last night’s study: same kettle, different exercise. The point of this study was to use three colors from the color wheel, a triad. (A color scheme in which three colors of equidistant distribution on the color wheel are used, e.g., red, blue, and yellow.) We could pick any three, so long as they had the right relationship to each other. I chose green, orange, and violet. I mixed and mixed these three colors and then tinted with white to get roughly 17 colors on my palette. Just doing this was awesome. I also had three goals in mind when I was painting this third kettle study: 1) paint a little faster, 2) paint thicker (use more paint), and 3) take more risks.

Now, this copper kettle isn’t exactly the thing I want to have a painting of in my home, much less three paintings. But this was a fascinating exercise and I’m so glad I did this. I have a much greater appreciation for color and mixing than ever before. Also, I no longer feel that every painting has to prove anything. The doing of it was the thing.


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    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

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